Trans-Spirit list a transhumanist research program into religion and spirituality. It seeks to understand religion and spirituality in terms of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology, and to project the future of religion and spirituality in the dawning transhuman era.
Abolitionist SocietyPromotes eliminating involuntary suffering and increasing lifelong individual happiness through science
Cyborg Buddha Project
IEET Executive Director James Hughes - a former Buddhist monk and attenuated Buddho-Unitarian - is writing a book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha: Using Neurotechnology to Become Better People.
IEET Board member Mike LaTorra - a Zen priest and author of A Warrior Blends with Life: A Modern Tao - runs the Trans-Spirit list promoting discussion of neurotheology, neuroethics, techno-spirituality and altered states of consciousness.
The three of us are launching the IEET Cyborg Buddha Project to combine our efforts and promote discussion of the impact that neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies will have on happiness, spirituality, cognitive liberty, moral behavior and the exploration of meditational and ecstatic states of mind.
One of IEET’s projects is Cyborg Buddha, which explores the role neurotechnology will have on spirituality, happiness, and alternate states of mind. In this interview, Warrior pick Dr. Hughes’ brain on how technology can be used to engineer virtue – something all religions throughout time have stressed is the key to a good life. They also get into technology allowing us to upload our minds computers, a possibility available sooner than most realize.
In the Cyborg Buddha book, IEET Executive Director James Hughes borrows from his personal experience of studying Buddhism for several decades, briefly being a buddhist monk, and later living as a secular buddhist in USA. James attempts to distil key human virtues, and argues for the possibility of human moral enhancement in the future.
It was hailed as the most significant test of machine intelligence since Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov in chess nearly 20 years ago. Google’s AlphaGo has won two of the first three games against grandmaster Lee Sedol in a Go tournament, showing the dramatic extent to which AI has improved over the years. That fateful day when machines finally become smarter than humans has never appeared closer—yet we seem no closer in grasping the implications of this epochal event.
To start, I need to be specific about what Buddhism means in this context.
I suggest there is no such thing as ‘Buddhism’, but rather ‘Buddhisms’. There is little in common with Buddhism as taught in the Theravada (the earliest Buddhist teachings as based on those of Siddhartha Gautama - ‘the Buddha’), Zen, or the Tibetan tantric traditions. Although they all maintain the base of their teachings on the realisation of the Buddha, the methods they employ vary widely.
Marshall Brain (1961 – ) is an author, public speaker, and entrepreneur. He earned an MS in computer science from North Carolina State University where he taught for many years, and is the founder of the website HowStuffWorks, which was sold in 2007 to Discovery Communications for $250,000,000.