Intelligence and Wisdom - When AI Meets Chinese Philosophers 智慧与智能-人工智能遇见中国哲学家

Edited by Bing Song, published by the Citic Press Group

Bing Song

Focusing on potential impact of frontier technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics on humanity and human society, 17 thinkers from China, well-versed in Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism and Western philosophical traditions, contributed to the book Intelligence and Wisdom – AI meets Chinese Philosophers, published in March 2020 by the Citic Press Group.  They included former Berggruen fellows such as Zhao Tingyang, Gan Chunsong, Stephen Angle, Li Chenyang, Robin Wang and current Berggruen fellows of He Huaihong and Zeng Yi, in addition to 10 other distinguished philosophers and scientists.

Berggruen Institute is one of the first global research institutions to focus on bringing together artificial intelligence scientists and Chinese philosophers to foster mutual understanding and innovative thinking.  Since late 2017, the Berggruen Institute China Center organized a series of dialogues and workshops, inviting Chinese AI scientists and philosophers to opine on the following questions: what is the core and changing nature of humanity, the nature and machine in the age of frontier technologies?  What would be an appropriate ethical framework, if any, for regulating human-machine relationships?  If certain human values are to be embedded in or learnt by AI, what would those values be?  What is the future direction of Chinese philosophical research?  The discussions in the past two years culminated in this edited volume in Chinese of over 300 pages.  The table of content is as follows:

• Zhao Tingyang, The Infinite Advancement of Technology May Be a Dangerous Gamble (技术的无限进步也许是一场不可信任的赌博)

• Zhang Xianglong, Humanity, Sense of Time and the New Realm of Artificial Intelligence (人性、时间意识与人工智能新境)

• He Huaihong, Think about Artificial Intelligence as if We’re Back in the Axial Age (回到轴心时代思考人工智能)

• Yao Zhongqiu, Artificial Intelligence, Human beings and Things(人工智能,吾与也)

• Daniel A. Bell, Artificial Intelligence from the Perspectives of Marxism and Confucianism (从马克思主义和儒家的视角看人工智能)

• Liu Xiaoli, The Evolution of Human and Machine Consciousness (人类意识与机器意识的演化)

• Cheng Lesong, Insight, Misunderstanding and the Power of Imagination (浅识、误解与想象力)

• Stephen Angel, Can Artificial Intelligence Lead Us to Genuine Virtue?

• Li Chenyang, The AI Challenge and the End of Humanity

• Gan Chunsong, Artificial Intelligence, Emotion and Order: A Confucian Perspective (人工智能与情感、秩序:从儒家的角度出发)

• Robin Wang, Can Machines Flow Like Dao?

• Gai Fei, When Artificial Intelligence Meets Taoism Religion (当人工智能遇见道教)

• Liu Fenghe, The Ultimate Wisdom for Solving Human Suffering and the Issue off Life and Death (解决人类生死烦恼的根本智慧)

• Li Silong, New Humanities and the Value of Life (新人文与生命价值)

• Chen Xiaoping, Research on Uncertainties in AI Technology and Philosophy (人工智能中的不确定性问题与哲学研究)

• Cai Hengjin, Becoming Saintly: Constructing a Conceptual World (成己而圣:在此岸建构理念世界)

• Zeng Yi, Building a Harmonious Society of Humans and Artificial Intelligence (构建人类与人工智能和谐共生社会)

In the extended introduction of the book, the editor-in-chief, Berggruen Institute’s Vice President Ms. Song Bing noted that, like their Western counterparts, many Chinese philosophers (mostly trained in Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism) have expressed deep concern over the diminishing of human autonomy and free will in the age of data manipulation and automation, as well as the potential loss of purpose and meaning of human life in the long run. Others are concerned about humankind’s eagerness to tinker with the human genome and the natural evolution process to achieve much-desired longevity and physical well-being. Confucian scholars seem to be the most alarmed as certain developments in AI and robotics, especially those related to affective relationships and aged care, directly threaten the foundation of Confucianism, which emphasizes the importance of bloodlines and familial norms.  Most interestingly, however, Ms. Song pointed out that there are other lines of thinking, which are different from the views above. These views have had a huge impact on the Chinese approach to AI threats and ethics, namely the strong tradition of non-anthropocentrism, methodological openness and psychological easiness in embracing changes and uncertainty, and finally, the importance of human self-reflection, self-cultivation and even self-awakening when thinking about values of this digital era and ethics for AI.

Berggruen Institute fosters global dialogues between thinkers of the East and West on issues of great transformation confronting humankind.  To that end, later this year, the Institute will host a series of dialogues and workshops among Chinese and Western philosophers on the impact of frontier technologies on humankind and human society.  It is hoped that an English version of a part of this book, together with contributions by Western philosophers, will be published in the U.S. in 2021.

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