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Upcoming Conference to Explore “Buddhism, Consciousness, and AI”


The Woodenfish Foundation will host the 5th Woodenfish Forum on Buddhism, Science, and Future at the Grand Hotel in Taipei on 21–23 June. The conference, titled Buddhism, Consciousness, and AI, will bring together scholars, practitioners, and technology experts to discuss the intersection of Buddhist philosophy and modern scientific advancements. An English-language live-stream of the event will be available to those who register.

The three-day forum will feature a series of panels addressing various aspects of mindfulness practices, artificial intelligence, and their ethical implications. The agenda will highlight a blend of historical Buddhist context and contemporary issues, aiming to foster a comprehensive understanding of these topics.

Day 1: 21 June

Morning session: Buddhist Consciousness & Modern Science

The first panel, scheduled for 9 a.m.–12 p.m., will delve into the mechanisms and impacts of mindfulness practices, alongside critiques. Paul Swanson, emeritus professor at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, will discuss “Meditation as Clarity, in Light of Zhiyi’s Tiantai Buddhism.” Eric Loucks, director of the Mindfulness Center at Brown University, will present “Planet and People: The Power of Mindful Behavior Change.”

Bernard Faure, emeritus professor at Columbia University, will explore the relationship between mindfulness, neuroscience, and naturalism in his talk “Towards a One-dimensional Buddhism?” Evan Thompson, professor of philosophy at the University of British Columbia, will present on “Mindfulness as Social Cognition: A View from Cognitive Science.” The panel will conclude with a presentation by Yit Kin-Tung from National Sun Yat-Sen University.

Afternoon Session: AI and Buddhist Ethics

From 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., the second panel will examine the ethical dimensions of AI through a Buddhist lens. Thomas Doctor, executive director of the Ranjung Yeshe Institute, will speak on “Building Bodhisattvas: Towards a Model of Powerful, Reliable, and Caring Intelligence.” Peter Hershock, director of Asian Studies at the East-West Center, will discuss whether digital consciousness represents an evolutionary leap or a karmic digression.

Soraj Hongladarom, Professor at Chulalongkorn University, will address “What is the Overall Goal of AI Ethics?” This session will also include youth participation to provide diverse perspectives on these critical issues.

These panels will be followed by presentations by Taiwanese youth. Venerable Yifa, the founder of the Woodenfish Foundation, told BDG that, “it’s important to involve the youth. They will have a new perspective and it is their future we are discussing.”


Day 2: 22 June

Morning session: AI and Buddhist Metaphysics

The morning panel, from 9 a.m.–12 p.m., will consider AI’s possibilities and limitations from Buddhist metaphysical perspectives. Christian Coseru, professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston, will discuss “Engineering Enlightenment? Artificial Minds and the Problems and Perils of Synthetic Phenomenology.” Robert Sharf from UC Berkeley will ask “Can AI Meditate? (And Why It Matters).”

Georg Northoff, professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa, will discuss “Meditation and the Self: Why AI Cannot (Yet) Show Non-dual Awareness.” BDG contributor Gereon Kopf from Luther College will present “AI, Sentience, and Buddha’s Mind: A Fourth-Person Approach,” followed by Cheng Kaiyuan from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University on the integration of body and brain in mindfulness practices. Finally, Jundo Cohen, author of Building the Future Buddha, will speak on “Zen of AI, Gene, Saving the Earth and Traveling to the Mars.” 

Afternoon session: Application of AI and Buddhism

The afternoon session will run from 1:30 p.m.–5 p.m. and focus on practical applications of AI within Buddhist contexts and vice versa. Bill Duane, principal at Bill Duane and Associates, will speak on “Buddha and the Corporation in an AI World.” James Robson from Harvard University will discuss the “Space Temple – Buddhist Application of AI in Japan.”

Jiryu Rutschman-Byler, co-abbot of the San Francisco Zen Center, will present “Roshibot: A Case Study of AI in American Zen Buddhism.” The session will conclude with Seiji Kumagai and Toshikazu Furuya discussing the development of the BuddhaBot and the Tera-verse.


Day 3: 23 June

Morning session: AI and The Future of Buddhism

The final panel, from 9 a.m.–12 p.m., will explore the future relationship between AI and Buddhism. Li Si-chen, former president of National Taiwan University, will present on “The Discovery of Internet Universe by Finger Reading Experiments and Its Implication to Consciousness.” Olaf Witkowski, founding director at Cross Labs, will discuss “Interwoven Futures: Harmonizing Biological and Technological Minds.”

Jeanne Lim, co-founder and CEO of beingAI, will present “AI being: Co-Pilot in the Quest for Wisdom and Enlightenment,” followed by Pat Pataranutaporn from MIT, discussing “Can AI Help Humans Attain Enlightenment?”

The Woodenfish Foundation’s forum promises to provide a diverse and insightful examination of how Buddhism and AI intersect, offering a platform for dialogue and exploration of these significant topics.

The Woodenfish Foundation is dedicated to bridging the gap between Buddhist teachings and contemporary issues through educational programs and conferences. Founded by Ven. Yifa to promote understanding and the practice of Humanistic Buddhism, the foundation offers immersive experiences, such as the Humanistic Buddhist Monastic Life Program (HBMLP), which introduces participants to monastic lifestyles and Buddhist philosophy. The foundation also hosts events such as the Buddhism, Science, and Future forum, which explores intersections between Buddhism, science, and technology, fostering dialogue and collaboration among scholars, practitioners, and the public.

More information and registration can be found here.

See more

2024 Buddhism, Consciousness and AI —5th Woodenfish Forum on Buddhism, Science and Future (Accupass)
Woodenfish Foundation

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