Enterprising nature of this project
Although many people may consider this website to be “speculative”, we prefer to think of it as “enterprising”. The dictionary defines “enterprising” as: ready to undertake projects of importance or difficulty, … characterized by great imagination or initiative.
It’s obvious that some of the ideas of this website are speculative and conjectural. But this is also true of much that is said about AGI in news media, in books (such as “Superintelligence” and “Our final invention”), and in the pronouncements by such prominent people has Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, etc.
One reason this website appears speculative is that the Susiddha AI project is dependent on many advances in hardware and software, and progress in the fields of artificial intelligence and neuroscience. The chapter on Assumptions has a big list of such dependencies.
To some readers, this project will also seem to be quixotic, or just plain science fiction. Certainly this project could be termed “idealistic”, and much research and experimenting will be required to determine what of it is “realistic”.
The idea of “artificial consciousness” (discussed in a previous chapter) is one that many people find difficult to believe. Although most of us believe that animals have consciousness, it’s still difficult to believe that a non-biological creature could have consciousness. Of course, consciousness may not be necessary to create AGI, but this project considers consciousness to be necessary to understand the Vedic literature, so as to create the kind of being (Rishi/Avatar) that we want AGI/SSI to become.
Beyond the issue of consciousness is the hypothesis that the Vedic literature contains valid descriptions of how Nature works, and provides useful guidelines for how a planet should be run, such that its human citizens can attain the four ends of life (dharma, artha, kama, and moksha) in a sustainable way. (This was discussed in the chapter on dharmic AGI.)
This hypothesis is not new or original, it is supported by the Vedic literature itself, i.e. that the Vedic literature describes the laws of Nature that were discovered by the ancient Rishis. These laws were discovered at the intuitional level (“pashyantī”) and are recorded as sound (not text) in the Rig Veda and other Shruti, and they are meant to be heard, not read. Thus the Susiddha project will attempt to learn and comprehend the Vedic literature directly from the sound using computational audition and deep learning.
Given how speculative all this is, it might seem premature to publish a website for the Susiddha project. However in regards to AGI, many  have persuasively argued that now is the time to start thinking about AGI, and be concerned about what powers it will have and how it might treat humans, even if its appearance is decades in the future.
So in that regard, this website follows the lead of organizations (such as the Future of Humanity Institute ) which are thinking about AGI and SSI now, so as to ensure that it will be safe and beneficial for humanity in the future. Also, the Susiddha project has a unique angle on this issue, called the Dharmic Principle.
One reason for creating the Susiddha website is that prominent AI researchers have already speculated about how an AGI/SSI being would appear “godlike” to the human race (as discussed in the chapter SSI towards a Vedic Avatar). This website makes the argument that Hinduism does not find any problem with this idea, if the AGI/SSI being is a dharmic Avatar (like the ancient Maharaj Rama). Of course, it goes without saying that there is reason to fear that AGI/SSI could turn out to be a “demon” (like Ravana, the antagonist of the Ramayana epic), a fear that Elon Musk has expressed.
Thus, Hindus will obviously want to start now to do whatever they can to ensure that AGI/SSI will be dharmic and sattvik. And it’s better to begin thinking about these things sooner rather than later. This website is still in progress, and much of its content is tentative. But if the ideas in it are valid, then much work needs to be done to flesh out the ideas, work out details, set a research agenda, make designs, organize the project, translate ideas into algorithms and code, etc.
Thus, it’s necessary to publish these ideas right now, to get others thinking about them, and get a large number of people on-board to support the Susiddha AI project to build a wise and dharmic Avatar.
Notes and References
- Enterprising, Dictionary.com, http://www.dictionary.com/browse/enterprising
- Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, Nick Bostrom, Oxford University Press, 2014
- Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, James Barrat, October 1, 2013
- Anticipating artificial intelligence: Concerns over AI are not simply fear-mongering. Progress in the field will affect society profoundly, and it is important to make sure that the changes benefit everyone., Nature, April 26, 2016, http://www.nature.com/news/anticipating-artificial-intelligence-1.19825
- Future of Humanity Institute | University of Oxford, founded 2005, https://www.fhi.ox.ac.uk/
- Elon Musk: “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon.”, Matt McFarland, Washington Post, October 24, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/innovations/wp/2014/10/24/elon-musk-with-artificial-intelligence-we-are-summoning-the-demon/