Survival of the Brahmacharya in the time AI and ChatGPT

By Bal Ram Singh, PhD


Some 20 years ago when cell phones and laptops were beginning to appear on the horizon and  in the hands of students, there were reports and videos from classrooms where teachers were taking cell phones from students and smashing on the floors in disgust, as students used to get distracted from the classroom attention. On the other hand, use of technology by professors was encouraged and admired. In fact, I used to get commended and rewarded for using transparencies (if any of you may still recall them!) and powerpoint presentations in the classroom.

Much water (online) has passed through the Mississippi river since then, in terms of America online (AOL,) mobile phone, skype calls, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Whatsapp, zoom, Vyoum (try it!), YouTube, VyoumTube (try this one, too), ChatGPT, etc. that now it is hard to recall what life may have been without them. All this remains artificial as in Artificial Intelligence or AI as it is commonly referred to.

Aside from engineering involved in designing and manufacturing the hardware, the gizmos mentioned above are either based on programming to operate a computer or phone, or information extracted from the databases, which amount to nothing but a memory that is the hallmark of all beings in one form or the other.

Humans talk because of their vocal cord structure and its neuronal controls available to them, something that is missing in animals, plants, insects, bacteria, viruses, or in the non-living matter. However, they all communicate with each other, and the rest, through energy vibrations that may or may not be cognitively received by all others. For example, dogs perceive sound frequencies up to 45,000 Hz but humans can hear only up to about 12,000 Hz. Even the 12,000 Hz sound is heard by dogs a lot louder than by humans.

Human communications are words, and are thus being stored, database, accessed, and analyzed for communication. Remembering words, communicating in a context, and creating a framework for proper understanding have become the key elements of the exchange of information that are used to extract knowledge and wisdom. This is a quite effective way to carry out routine work, more like a machine. Brahmacharya is, however, a creative phase of human existence. Creative would be something not repetitive, or copied over.

Etymologically speaking, “to bring into being,” early 15c., from Latin creatus, past participle of creare “to make, bring forth, produce, procreate, beget, cause,” related to Ceres and to crescere “arise, be born, increase, grow,” from PIE root *ker- (2) “to grow.” De Vaan writes that the original meaning of creare “was ‘to make grow”.

As an aside, these dictionaries tend to avoid something even so obvious as create coming from kriti (कृति), the Sanskrit word for original writing, designing, producing. Western scholars tend to avoid acknowledging even obvious Indian sources, at the risk of even sounding foolish.

To be creative would essentially be antithesis to memory or a memory-based system, which is what the AI is all about. Expression is an attributed name for a person (व्यक्ति, vyakti), that is derived from vyakt (व्यक्त) meaning the expression, which defines a person’s vyaktitva (व्यक्तित्व), the personality. That personality is unique in all and every way, including gene map, finger print, face, tongue, sound, walk, none repeated ever before or after. Making all the same over again is outright boring and it never happens. It doesn’t happen mentally or physically. Thus, it can never be recognized, manipulated, and entirely predicted. Each human is unique, lashed with free will, thus can defy any AI based prediction of herself/himself.

I decided to test the intelligence of the latest AI Avatar, the ChatGPT by asking, “Who is Bal Ram Singh?”, assuming this is the safer bet with the much touted prowess of this much loved/feared tool. Well, here is the result. Not that what it said was wrong, other than the Dhanvantari Award that never happened (LoL!), but this is not the description that represents all that I am professionally. I asked a follow up question, “What is Bal Ram Singh’s background?”, and the results were only worse?

So, I tried the ultimate weapon scientific inquiry uses to get to the bottom of the truth. I made up two words, Kumpudra (कम्पुद्र) and Kumpudrani (कम्पुद्राणी), coined after Rudra and Rudrani for our Rudramanthan discussion we conduct annually. The results were the same, fake words.

You can laugh or cry for the world that is waiting to fall down upon us!

Well, this is the side of what we can test of the capacity and capabilities (or lack those of) of the AI. The  Brahmacharya side of the story remains to be examined further to explain how a well trained and practicing Brahmachari can and does communicate for expression and understanding.

Balram Singh is a Professor and the President of the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, Massachusetts, researching Ayurveda, Yoga, Vedic education, and Vedic social and political traditions. He is also an adjunct faculty at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi.

Images courtesy of PMW and Provided

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