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True Genius

As I mentioned last month, I have been reading a lot about neuroscience lately and that has led me to think about Artificial Intelligence. I first heard about this about 30 years ago when I was in graduate school studying systems engineering.  The application we first considered was the problem of backing a semi-truck into a loading dock without human assistance.  Algorithms were created to mimic the way an expert driver would process angles and turns to come to the optimal solution.  It was fascinating to me then, and even more so now as the algorithms are going further into simulating human intelligence.  I am not a fan of the term Artificial though.  It somehow diminishes its value, like an artificial diamond or artificial sugar.  They are an ok replacement but I would rather have the real thing.  AI has the potential to merge our collective intelligence, which could be more valuable than individual intelligence.

With intelligence though, the entire concept is subjective.  What might seem like an intelligent idea or action to one person could seem idiotic to another, like bungee jumping… why in the world would any intelligent person do that?  AI is also being used to generate art and music. I took the photo above at the MOMA in New York at the exhibit of Unsupervised by Refik Anandol. It is an AI algorithm that processed the museum's collection and generates a dynamic moving image. Is this better than the human created art in the museum? Its not Frida Kahlo or Picasso, but I could have spent hours watching it.


What is exciting to me is that the use of AI tools could help us expand our perspective in ways that our biased and limited brains might not get to in our lifetime.  If you can imagine all the human knowledge in the world, with all of the perspectives and insights we each have, being processed through a computer to leverage our collective intelligence, imagine what we could learn from each other!  And what if we added to that the collective wisdom of the natural world, the plants and animals, streams and crystals that form and flow and grow based on some innate wisdom.  Maybe we could learn to stop striving to have more.  Maybe we could go beyond intelligence and collectively become wise ourselves.  Could that bring peace, harmony, justice?


The risk of AI is in the application.  The algorithms today do not pull from all of our collective intelligence.  The data sets upon which they are built are limited and have inherent biases.  It is like the human equivalent of "group think" when a group of likeminded people get together and convince themselves an action makes sense for the greater good, not considering that people outside that group could have different values and perspectives.  And, some of the algorithms are even human enough to make up an answer when they don't know it.  This is referred to as AI hallucinations, which I guess sounds more forgivable than AI lying to save face.  And I suppose that begs the question, is it possible to have unbiased intelligence?  I think it is.  In yoga it is called pure consciousness.


My yoga teachers Alan Finger and Peter Ferko wrote a book called "The Genius of Yoga: How Yogic Meditation Can Unlock Your Innate Brilliance."  The premise is that the intention of yoga is to still the mind and enable yourself to find a meditative state where the thinking brain can pause and let intuition come through.  Like the ah-ha you may have in the shower, when on a run or in the middle of a sun salutation where there is a new clarity that can't be forced.  So, while we wait to see if and how computers might be able to support us in achieving this state unbiased intelligence, we can practice yoga to find our own genius to help us navigate our world.

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