Artificial Intelligence and Karma: A conversation with Nikki Mirghafori and Steve Omohundro

Event has passed (Thu Nov 2, 2017 - Thu Nov 2, 2017)
California Institute of Integral Studies - CIIS
07:00 PM
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With origins in ancient India, karma is a key concept in many belief systems including Buddhism and Hinduism. It is the theory that our actions have inevitable and unknowable results in our future, either in this life, or the next. Karma is also described as the good or bad emanations felt to be generated by someone or something.
This conversation explores how the concept of karma can guide us as we push forward towards creating non-human intelligence. How we develop and design artificial intelligence will impact individuals and society for generations to come. If we think about karma in our interactions with human beings, will we consider it in our interactions with these new artificially intelligent beings as well? Does karma apply to artificially intelligent beings?
How our present and future society chooses to answer these questions could result in major spiritual and ethical shifts with cascading impacts that, like karma, lead to inevitable and unknowable results in our shared future. Join Nikki Mirghafori, Buddhist contemplative and AI research scientist, in conversation with Steve Omohundro on artificial intelligence and karma.

Nikki Mirghafori, PhD, is an Artificial Intelligence scientist and a Buddhist teacher. Since receiving her PhD in Computer Science from UC Berkeley in 1998, she has directed international research programs, authored over 40 scientific articles, taught courses, and mentored Berkeley graduate students. She has served as the scientific advisor to Silicon Valley technology startups and holds multiple patents. Since 2003, Nikki has practiced in the Theravada Buddhist tradition with a keen interest in intensive long silent retreats. She was instructed by the renowned meditation master Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw to teach. She is also a Spirit Rock retreat teacher, a Stanford trained compassion cultivation instructor, and a UCLA certified mindfulness facilitator. She teaches Buddhist meditation and contemplation nationally, and Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Center, where she also serves on their Board of Directors.
Steve Omohundro, PhD, founded Possibility Research and Self-Aware Systems to develop beneficial intelligent technologies. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a PhD in Physics from Berkeley. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois and cofounded the Center for Complex Systems Research. He published the book Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics, designed the programming languages StarLisp and Sather, wrote the 3D graphics system for Mathematica, invented many machine learning algorithms (including manifold learning, model merging, bumptrees, and family discovery), and built systems that learn to read lips, control robots, and induce grammars. He's done internationally recognized work on AI safety and strategies for its beneficial development. He is on the advisory boards of several AI and Blockchain companies. 


  1. California Institute of Integral Studies - CIIS 1453 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA