Bijoy Misra, "Intelligence and God: Shankara's View of the World and Its Implications for Cognitive Science” - God and Computers: Minds, Machines, and Metaphysics (A.I. Lab Lecture Series)
FOERST: Okay, welcome to the lecture series "God and Computer," which we are running this fall. Today's the seventh lecture-- the eighth lecture, actually. And just for the people who have not been here before, just to give them a brief summary of what we did so far, we started with four lectures on what does it mean to be human and what was called the human factor. And we heard an engineering perspective, a comparative ethology perspective, a brain and cognitive science perspective, and an AI perspective.
Then we had a part, which we have today the last lecture of, personal reports, kind of case studies on how scientists from various backgrounds deal with existential issues within and outside of their research. We had first a Christian perspective, then a Buddhist perspective. Last week, we had a Jewish perspective. And today, we have a Hindu perspective. And the last two lectures, both after Thanksgiving, will deal with how to build it. Or is it possible to build it?
Next week, we don't have a lecture because of Thanksgiving. And for all people who are totally unhappy about that, we have next week a discussion group, Monday at 12 o'clock at Harvard Divinity School, which is 45 Francis Avenue over at Cambridge. And the discussion group is run by Professor Harvey Cox and me. So for everyone who has questions about the lecture series, wants to discuss some stuff, 12 o'clock, Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Avenue.
I'm happy to answer every emails. My email address is A-N-N-E-F-- like forest-- at A-I dot MIT.edu. And here are also brochures. I have a couple of them outside and a couple of them inside, including my email address and all the other information you want to perhaps know.
And now I'm very happy and very glad to welcome Professor Bijoy Misra here today. Professor Misra is physicist originally and got his PhD in 1977 from Pune University in India. He came then to MIT as a researcher and worked in the energy lab. And since 1982, he has been affiliated with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard. And he is now faculty member for computer science at the Harvard Extension School and also consultant in the Department of Radiology and Neurology at Harvard Medical School.
So already in the science, there is a variety of different interests. But very interested for this series is beside all these scientific interests is he has a very strong interest in Hindu tradition and Hindu religion. Coming from an orthodox Hindu background, he works a lot-- he's very, very active in research on Hindu religion, Hindu philosophy, and also Sanskrit and Indian culture in general.
Right now, he's working on a high-resolution mapping of the brain. And today, he will talk about the insights from his research with that project with regard to his Hindu tradition. He will focus on Shankara, whose work he also has in part translated.
And I think this is a just wonderful background in both science and religion. And so I'm very, very glad. I'm happy that you are here today. And tell us your ideas. Thanks for coming.
MISRA: Thank you. When Anne called me several months ago to create a lecture for this series, I kind of initially thought that I will talk with cognition. Cognition as a topic has interested me strongly, because more and more as I grow older, I believe that we become prey to perception.
Perception in a sense of electrical engineering, that is, where is the signal? What is the signal? Do we have a signal? Can we get the signal? How much of error is there in our sights, in our hearing, in our feeling, in our overall sensory reception?
How did I come to feel about this strongly is different people, scientists, various enlightened people, various people with a lot of information, will present information somewhat differently. That is how I felt that we must have a good understanding of perception. However, when I wanted to prepare the talk and then I talked to her again when she spoke me back, I said, well-- she said that, look, you must speak from the Hindu perspective. I said, well, if Hindu perspective, I will talk about my favorite philosopher.
So what you will hear from me today is about someone I admire strongly who lived in India and whose work I think has a great importance in the present-day understanding of cognition and intelligence. His name is Shankara. What I will guide you through is--
Since it's supposed to be Hindu talk, so I will kind of first give you a little bit of background about what Hindus think. And then I will put Shankara in the Hindu manifold. The Hindus' ideas are the following-- Hindu as the word probably is not very old, but Indian as a word probably is more older. Indian means, like-- India was called differently before, but things coming from India.
So a long time ago, I would say several thousand years ago, definitely there was a time where Indians strongly felt about finding something called truth. Now, truth in this particular point of view, or a mathematical point of view-- if you read the scriptures and literature strongly, you will find what was bothering them was something that has little higher time scale. Something is not transient. Something will leave tomorrow. And tomorrow may be somewhat like 100 years, 500 years, 1,000 years, depending upon the philosopher.
This particular thing, which we'll call being, which says something exists. All right? That will be called truth. Something is being.
Now, from that being, [INAUDIBLE] create a situational philosophy of this being, so basically you have being and non-being. And from the beings, things that are somewhat permanent, somewhat in the world, in some stability, they will create the philosophy, the fundamental parts of which philosophy would be consciousness and nature. That is, all beings are endowed with two fundamental qualities, consciousness and nature. These are Sanskrit words which have translated, but basically they're kind of close literal translation.
Nature is the property of the individual, the property of the being, the way the being operates, the way the being interacts with society, the way the being interacts with the environment. Consciousness is something that helps him, helps her, helps it do things. All right? So this separation, which has no metaphysical or godly impetus in it, was very basic, that everybody's endowed with a consciousness and with a nature. And nature can be of diverse manifold, but consciousness is a part of the being in order to activate the nature.
Going somewhat further, the nature would have three different elements. Nature's manifestation is the body, the physical body. That body will have three different elements. The first element, intellect, intelligence, and ego.
Intellect is something that you are endowed with, genetic. Intellect is something that you have less control, but somehow which helps you organize, which helps you obtain things and accommodate things.
Intelligence is something that you do, your cognitive abilities, your brain activities, in which you try to manipulate. You try to obtain. You try to create. You try to accommodate. Or as [INAUDIBLE] says, you try to assimilate. Those are all true for intelligence.
And the third thing is ego. Ego is who we are, your own personality. All right? Now, ego as you can see, is a function-- you know, here we have three different components of the nature.
And so we have the ego being the human body itself, and the human body has intelligence as a part of it, which tries to operate, which tries to make a person move, make gestures, make speeches, make movements, eat. Intellect is something which helps them to organize thoughts. So basically, as you can see, mind is a part of the-- between the intelligence and intellect. And at those points, mind is a-- and original points, mind becomes a part of intellect.
Now this particular ego can have several attributes. Cosmologically-- cosmologically means if you transcend this particular theory to a larger scale, like, the universe have a consciousness. The universe has a nature. Universe has an intellect. The universe has an intelligence. And the universe has an ego.
If we have an ego which carries our structure, the universe structure has its own ego. From all that point of view, ego can have five cosmic elements. This is, again, old. This is at least 3,000, 4,000-year-old material. But the point is, to create a model of the universe into bringing to the human psyche and to create a metaphorical operation in which we can understand ourselves by the universe was this people's strong contribution.
The five elements that I note here are the sky, air, fire, water, and earth. I do not know whether somebody-- what kind of empirical work went on to standardize this. Was there any work at all to say the sky could be the first element?
But as you will see the material henceforth, you will find people probably did meditate or did speculate on things and coming to a conclusion that if there is a fundamental element in the universe, that could be the space. That could be the void. That could be the creation of space between objects. All right?
I think some people who are familiar with Hinduism might also know or might think that because of that, they somehow revered sound. Sound needs the space to move. So why Hindu people are so much fascinated with sounds comes back from these very, very early thoughts that the sky, space, becomes the fundamental element in the cosmological universe of the Hindus.
When I say Hindus, I'm saying the people who thought in these lines and which probably continues to be true, even at the modern times. And that's how it kind of pleases me to present such material to and from the cognitive point of view.
So sky, air, fire, water, and earth, in this particular order. Sky gives rise to air, air gives rise to fire, fire gives way to water, water gives way to earth in some kind of a continuous succession. And that is how the development takes place.
Now, one these five elements, which are orthogonal, or independent, which are kind of mutually exclusive, they are-- even though one originates from the other-- once they are in place, they do not interact with each other. They are separate. And once they are in place, they could give rise to, or to carry the message of each of these elements, then human beings or the so-called beings can create, evolutionary way, create the sense organs, our sensory perception. Our sensory perception, from this point of view, is designed because of the cosmic elements, sensory perceptions being five and the elements being five. There's a one-to-one relationship between the sensory perception and the cosmic element.
Now the sky space carries sound, and in order to hear sound, you have ears. The air carries the pressure, the molecules, and in order to get the feeling of the molecules, you have the touch sensation, have the skin. Similarly, fire gives you the shape, the presentation of material-- the view, so that gives you the eye. And then the tongue, the taste, and the nose, the smell.
So these five organs can be created. Once these five organs are created, then these philosophers will go a little further. And they will say that human beings are composed of some more organs, which are the hands, legs, the procreation, excretion, and the speech, the mouth. And finally, maybe if you want to have mind as an exclusive organ, exclusive element, you also add mind.
So this is the Hindu universe, which even [INAUDIBLE] today, conceived, developed, probably somehow empirically debated, maybe 3,000, 4,000 years ago. But when a person is born, dies, during his life, somehow people have this belief that this is how the body is composed of, and this is how the body will deal with. The principal part of it, I must say, in this whole thing, that all these so-called developments, they took place from the right-hand element, which is the nature.
The consciousness did not interact with all the development. The consciousness is an entity. Nature is an entity. And this nature, through its own processes, develops the various elements and then organs and eventually beings, and beings become human beings, and so on. okay.
If that's so, then what happens? At this time, they will think about that suppose that consciousness is endowed in all beings, and they are the guiding factors in all beings, so naturally, there is a element of consciousness in all beings. This particular thought, which eventually we have called soul or something, which Aristotle accepts-- and I think generally we have become addicted to a system that, yes, we have a soul. And soul is the one which God [INAUDIBLE].
The soul is the one which understands, suffers. Soul is the one which probably eventually takes our life wherever it needs to go. Some kind of religious thoughts have been associated with the soul.
Originally, however, these people did not think that way. They thought the soul would be an element of consciousness. And because consciousness does not transform-- oh, by the way, when I say consciousness and nature, and from the point of view of the time scales I was talking about, all right? So nature, because it evolves, it has a shorter time scale, because these things evolve, form. They might change. But consciousness has a much, much larger time scale, most likely doesn't change at all, from the original theory.
Now coming back here now, so the soul would be, then, an element of consciousness. And because the original consciousness has a very long time scale, the individual soul's consciousness will also have a strong time scale. What follows because of that, from the point of view of the body-- when the body decays, body dies, this time scale of the soul is longer than the body.
So it might look as though the soul is immortal. It might look as though the soul doesn't die, and soul remains in the universe. Once created, doesn't go anywhere. It stays in the universe.
What does it do? It becomes what they call a passive witness. Why becomes passive? It's a passive witness, passive witness because it doesn't act.
I must tell you also one more thing here. During this particular discussion about the Hindu cosmology, or the time of these philosophical discourses on this, the question of time strongly came in. And people thought the definition of time would be something that differentiates.
The object is there. The object has moved. The position has changed. See? There's a different realization has come in. And that will kind of make you feel that as though some time has elapsed.
So from that point of view, because the soul has a long time scale, so it should not react. Even though my hand moves, my mouth speaks, even though I have personally moved, my soul is not moving with me, because it operates on a longer time scale. All right? So it basically-- because of that, it will stay inert.
So once we define this, once we make this particular framework, then we come to the experiments that people have done lately. And I want to project them in view of Shankara's work. Those experiments have shown, I think, the following.
These are accepted by the Indian philosophers. And I think lately the different experiments in Europe and this country have come to such kind of conclusion. That is, we do operate on different brain waves. We do operate on different kinds of systematic cognition on our brain function, depending upon how we exercise our brain, depending upon how intensely the brain is working, how relaxed the brain is. The concept that these people have from the point of view of their own thinking that the consciousness-- which I said soul, which I said is a part of universal consciousness-- may exist in four quantum states.
One state is as we are, waking, which is very strongly-- if you take the brain images, you will find that the brain is functioning pretty fast. Brain is functioning, what, about 20 cycles of second. It's kind of very strongly operating, because different kinds of sensory perceptions are coming to the brain, different kinds of ideas coming to the brain, and you are dealing with all the different functionalities.
Then you come to the dream, which kind of semi-awake, but not really fully cognizant of everything that's going on. You are slept, but not fully slept. In that situation, the brain has slowed down considerably. It probably has gone down to about eight cycles a second. And also, people know that as you close your eyes and so on, you can possibly see these different images, visions, and so on, which is a part of the whole cyclic process the brain goes through when the brain is somewhat slowed down, not as compared to the completely awake state.
Then there are two other steps, which are the sleeping state, which is kind of the original thought of the soul that the person is living. And however, simply the body is sleeping. That means that the person's life is not really fully gone away. Person's senses are not fully gone away. And the soul is only active. So in that state, people say-- like we have the delta wave, which is the one cycle a second and so on, which is operating on your brain functioning.
However, the fourth state, which I call the awakened state, for which these people talk about very strongly, and I can't really give a good example of what an awakened state might look like, except I will kind of comment the following. I will say that when you are strongly focused, when attention is concentrated, when you are dealing with a particular process with utmost sincerity, where as though your whole senses are focused on that particular object, it is either to rescue a person, saving your own child, helping your friend in strong distress, or being very lonely yourself on any particular problem, where you are deeply to yourself-- so I think such kind of states, which can happen momentarily to us, where we don't really get cognizance of all of our senses at all, because they're so focused-- or even for students and so on when you're doing your homework for tomorrow, when the exam is there and so on, and you don't really care what's going on around-- so that could be a state where you are fully, fully, fully, fully conscious of only yourself. And not receiving this sensory input from anywhere.
What happens in such situation-- it could be, I think, no experiments have been done-- would be that probably, you don't have a wave at all. You will simply have a DC current. You will simply have a situation where you will have a full-- the brain is functioning, but brain not functioning in an undulating manner, but brain is functioning as though it is steady, as though it is operating with full attention.
Now, such particular thought, such particular state, Shankara will deal very strongly with. Let me now come to Shankara. Oh, before I come, I want to put two more words here, that in this theory that we have, because this consciousness can be all around us, consciousness can take two different manifestations, or what are called manifest consciousness, unmanifest consciousness.
And then people have-- Hindus have called them gods. Hindus have called them-- you know, like when somebody has endowed with strong consciousness, where he's cognizing everything easily, quickly, strongly, has strong values and so on, they have been associated with godly nature in this particular philosophy. But in general, also, the confines consciousness may be all around us, but doesn't manifest itself as a physical object.
You see, and you must understand this, even though that consciousness do manifest as a physical object, it is not associated itself with some nature. And so consciousness may not manifest at all, but may be present all around us. And that, we can call God. Or we can call God something where an embodiment of consciousness did take place and which kind of went through the normal, natural cycle controlled by the nature.
So this brings us to our philosopher friend, Shankara. Shankara-- who is Shankara? He lived around 800 AD, a prolific writer.
And what we know so far-- that he's a strong debater. Debater because when you make some thoughts which may be somewhat different than what the establishment thinks at a particular time, some people might try to argue with you. So he was probably-- spent most of his time in debating his views with the other people. Most people at that point were Buddhists, Buddhists who would not really-- who'll think-- I'll say what the difference is.
But basically the difference would be that whether our consciousness, our understanding, our cognition, our intellect, is controlled by us, or our intellect is controlled by or helped by, assisted by, a consciousness which is larger than us. That's the principal difference. And as you'll see, Shankara will argue now that that particular-- the intellect operates, but intellect is endowed always with this blessing of large consciousness from which it draws its resources.
How does it do it? He defines three terms. He defines something called a knower, something called knowledge, something called known. So knower is the actor, the one which does, one which sees, one which hears, one which remembers, one which decides. So that's the knower.
So in all cognition process, Shankara will say that something, a quantity, called knower exists. So the question is, can we find what the knower is in our body-mind-nature system?
Knowledge is easy. We know that whenever we try to know things or search for things, or we can search always for knowledge. And knowledge we acquire. But I'll come in a second where Shankara will think about knowledge.
And then finally, known. Known is your accumulated knowledge. Known is your decision process. Known is how much you can really reach out to your own consciousness and knowledge to associate new objects into that knowledge.
And this come the catch, Shankara's catch. What is Shankara's catch? It is-- oh, before I do, that three definitions.
What's the knower? Knower uses the intellect. Mind you, again, we have defined intellect, intelligence, and ego. So knower uses intellect. That we can know.
In order to know anything, we have to discriminate. We have to use our collected knowledge to disseminate, to decipher what's up there.
What Shankara will say different, though, that this particular cognition is a superposition of the consciousness on the intellect. That is, the intellect is looking for a solution. Intellect is looking for assimilation. Intellect is looking for adding the stuff to the accumulated knowledge.
But intellect is not sufficiently aware to find out everything about the new object. So unless intellect is conscious, intellect will fail to operate. Intellect is biological. Intellect's part of nature. Intellect is part of the body. And that has to associate itself with the consciousness in order to make itself cognize the object that it receives.
So this is Shankara's first hypothesis on knower. Then, knowledge is a perception of the intellect. We all perceive.
We all have our own ideas about things. So he agrees with that, that you can have your own theories. You can have your own feelings about various objects, various motions, various functions. But he says you have to then go beyond that and to see how much of that knowledge is universal.
Is that knowledge strictly to yourself, or anybody else agrees with you? In order to make that particular transition, Shankara will go a very, very long step forward, will say that all knowledge, if they be classified of knowledge, they have to be true.
They have to be true. They must have a value. They must have a value which is not transient. Remember, I said the time scale. So it would not be a small time scale operation, but end knowledge, if you know it, has a time scale much larger than your perception time scale.
He will say, look, every time the sensory organs operating and you are receiving information, creating images, you are trying to think the images are stable because of persistence, because of the new image has something with the old image, and you did not distinguish the new image and the old image. However, whether there is truth in it is a function of if the image lasts for pretty, pretty, pretty long time. And that you can only do because your intellect is only operating a short time scale. You associate that with the long time scale consciousness such that you can see, yes, there is truth in this particular feeling, the truth in this particular message, the truth in this particular thought.
Because of this, he will make this second assertion, that is, our intellect is not capable of finding the truth. Our body intellect is not capable of finding the truth, because body intellect is conditioned by the body experiences, is conditioned by the knowledge that we see before, is conditioned by the accumulation of material that it has received. Hence, it is not capable of deciphering information which is new to it, which means when the child starts up, whether he will start smiling or crying is a function of the child's intellect, is a function of consciousness which the child's intellect interacts with. And then the intellect receives the message that, look, smiling is good for you.
Similar hypothesis, similar hypothesis that when we have a decision to make, our intellect is incapable of getting into the depth of the problem and making us feel assisted on the problem. And then the intellect searches for-- and when the intellect searches for, it's the consciousness which kind of then helps the intellect, okay, hey, look, there's the solution.
Now, this consciousness, whether the intellect can reach it or not, that's up to the intellect. But the theory is that that consciousness exists, and intellect can reach out, all right? And I'll come in a minute, how do you reach out?
And then known, so he will say what's known is a function of evidence, is a function of inference, and function of articulation, whether you can really speak it, right? So known is-- that's kind of easy. That's easy, because you know you can always state it.
But then when you say words, all right, by showing images, by comparing-- this man is a man because the man has two legs and so on, two hand and stands erect and so on-- so that's like evidence. But when you say, the man-- I describe this person by having seen this person, using words, that gives me a different kind of cognition, because I don't know so much about the person. I will describe the person as I see it, which is not the full story.
And hence, I must be consciously intellectually active, blessed with this overall consciousness to help me, to stabilize what I know about the things so that I can articulate. So this is the story about the knower, knowledge, and known.
Then he will say that because of this dilemma, that intellect is only limited by the human experience, by the human thoughts or by the human memory. So the first paradox would be, we will never know the knower. In other words, you know that your intellect functions. You know that your intellect helps you understand. But you do not know how that intellect functions.
The intellect has function by virtue of consciousness, which has assisted in gaining the particular cognition. And because you have no access to the consciousness, hence you-- it is beyond the intellect. And because it's beyond intellect, intellect doesn't perceive it. intellect only feels it.
Shankara's metaphor is it's like light. The consciousness is like light. So light's something that you don't see, but you only feel it when light falls on you.
So it's some kind of metaphor, similar metaphor, where he would say that knower is outside the intellect. And hence, you are, with your intellectual energy, you are not able to. And because you can't see it, all cognition is always incomplete. All right?
Why is incomplete? It's incomplete because you don't know who lets you know. You have some knowledge. You did find a solution. You did complete your local cognition cycle.
But you did not know how that consciousness, how that local cycle did get complete. And because of that, cognition remains.
So then he will hypothesize two very fundamental hypotheses, which comes Shankara's philosophy. The first one is that any knowledge that you ought to know, you must know the knower. It is the knower which helped you cognize through your intellect, assisted you. So if you have any search for knowledge, then you search for the knower.
And knowledge is consciousness. Knower is knowledge, and knowledge itself is consciousness. What it means now-- which means that every thought, every idea, every cognition, is endowed with an intellectual curiosity. But that curiosity is not complete till a consciousness-- a conscious effort has been made to cognize.
And that conscious effort is not within your discretion, but it is a pure connection. It's a pure grace. It is a pure assistance by the universal consciousness onto intellect. So you know.
So these are the two hypotheses. Once he has the hypothesis, I will kind of say that he'll go a step further. And he will say that, look-- he will conclude-- that, look, you have intelligence. You know, I titled my talk "Intelligence and God." So he will say that, look, your intelligence guides you in search of knowledge, search of knowing things.
But your-- the way you should guide your intelligence is to-- your intelligence is in search of knowledge, but intelligence limited by your perception and delusion. Delusion is a word which we'll use very strongly. That is, you think you know. You think you are. You have cognized the object completely. But that's an illusion.
That's it. You are deluded. You're deluded because your body, your senses, have failed you. They have kind of given you an impression which is a local, transient, momentary, very short time scale.
So in order to make a larger time scale, more permanent, have stronger, stable knowledge, you must search more. And if you search more, then you try to get the knowledge. If you get the knowledge, however, you can't get the full knowledge unless you know the knower.
Who is the knower? He is knowledge. So the ultimate knowledge is the knower. And that-- I did not use the word-- he will use a word called Brahman.
So he will say that, look, there's only one truth in the universe. That is this cosmic, ultimate consciousness that you call Brahman, which is pervading every object everywhere, all over the place. And then that helps you intellectually to gain understanding of various objects.
What it has to do with machine intelligence is the machines will know. Machines know them objectively. Machines don't perceive. Machines tell you what the facts are.
So we can train the machines to really go become smarter and smarter and then be consciously objective, knowledge being all parts of consciousness. So all the knowledge that we know consciously, which had been endowed through consciousness to us, if we accumulate together, maybe we can asymptotically reach this large consciousness. Thank you.
She said I must stop at 5:20 so that I can take questions, so I stopped. 5:20. I take questions.
FOERST: Yeah, we have some time for questions. Thank you very much. For me, actually, that was very new. I've never did anything with Hinduism, so I'm fascinated.
And I'm actually especially fascinated when I have the right to kind of ask the first question or give the first comment.
MISRA: Please do. Please do.
FOERST: How close that is to this whole Western idea of this whole-- first of all, the whole body-mind split and the whole subjectivity-objectivity dilemma.
FOERST: And I would like to-- if that's--
MISRA: The point is it doesn't contradict what happens the following, like the modern psychological theory that, how does our intelligence operate? I think I used those words before. But it operates in three modes-- assimilation, accommodation, organization.
Assimilation is a function of the brain, intellect. The accommodation is a function of the mind. And organization, function of the memory.
What he's saying, that these whole three processes, even though they look biological, they are not biological. They are conscious. That you are only limited by your biology, by your body structure, by your memory, by your brain, to receive the knowledge as much as you can gain, as much as you can really obtain.
So what you do is, if you stay in a so-called awakened state, where your mind is fully focused, where your cognition is total, at that point, you will see that the knowledge that comes to you is only the pure knowledge. But what happens, though, people who have written about it and people who have probably reached such a state, they will say at that point, you don't distinguish between objects.
So that's the catch there. The catch is that once you have-- you don't have undulations. When the times become still-- you understand?-- when the differentiation doesn't exist, then things become cognitively indifferent. And hence you don't have any physical perception, because you have suspend your senses.
So that's the dilemma there. That is, one can probably reach such a state, but you must have some kind of your natural perception still continuing so that you can receive this so-called understanding that you are trying to receive. Otherwise, you are towards the god, or you have reached a point where your senses are not really important anymore. The only thing that's important to you or has been important to you only is this flat field consciousness. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Without nature, consciousness is still in existence.
FOERST: Would you mind repeating the questions for the--
AUDIENCE: Without nature, can consciousness still exist?
AUDIENCE: And I'll ask a simple question and then-- do you think that what a human being is capable of knowing, ultimately capable of knowing, is replicable in artificial intelligence?
MISRA: The answer is yes. The answer-- that's exactly at heart, is interesting. That is, the-- so you can't say artificial. You know, I called-- I think I was-- I did not use the phrase, but I will call objective intelligence. We are operating on two modes. Objective intelligence, something with a longer time scale, which doesn't get refuted.
I see you. I see you exactly the way I have seen you before. So our perception, our reaction, our interaction between the two people, will not change in the next five days, next 10 days, next 10 years, because we understand each other. So that's our cognitive, reactionary operation between two individuals, two beings.
Now once that particular time scale is shortened-- you go out-- because I don't know you. I go out, I say yes, I saw that guy.
So then what happens is you are operating on a lower level, on a subjective intelligence, where as a mutual convenience, but operating on as though that we have something to deal with. We have business. We have interest. We have togetherness, which is smaller compared to the larger permanence that knowledge would be all about, that truth would be all about.
And hence why I like the machine point of view, that machines will not change. Once we train them on the objective intelligence, whatever we have found naturally-- objective intelligence, again, have their own time scales, right? You know, Newton's laws, relativity. So things do happen. So things are not permanent.
But we have some semi-permanence we can build in. And hence probably we can create super smart machines who deal with that, who are not really subjectively cognizing, but objectively cognizing, who cannot really go-- you know, something dressed up and so on-- yes, this looks good. No. I know that man. I know the nature.
And I mean, whatever we can fool-- that's exactly Shankara will talk very strongly that we are subjectively, all the time, fooling ourselves. So you have to go inside, strongly concentrate who you are, and then find out you have a basic, inside of you, an objective intelligence, and that is independent of you. Yes?
AUDIENCE: You mentioned in your early part of the lecture the avenues of universal [INAUDIBLE] elements, earth, wind, fire, and water. Now, in Aristotle's elements, he describes all these four elements, except in the Indian case, you have sky.
AUDIENCE: And the concept of emptiness, space probably is instigator of the concept of zero in inventing numerals in India. What I wanted to ask you-- were either the Greeks-- Greek had interactions with the Indians at the time. Alexander the Great, when he came to India. Or the Indians were [INAUDIBLE] independently defied out.
MISRA: I think both are independently done. I think the-- because the Greeks did not know that much of Sanskrit and so on. Probably when the Alexander came to India at that time, this was probably already established, the five elements and so on. But I don't think he spent enough time or the interaction was enough to really carry this out to-- and by the-- also, by the time-- Aristotle is old by that time. So I think his material-- he doesn't wait for Alexander come back and deliver him material.
And also, space as a concept-- this is all hypothetical, like whether they took the five elements and chopped one and so on because of the void, and-- but I don't think that's the case. I think what-- I think the visible operations-- you can make a cosmology out of the elements, Aristotelian elements. But to think about space as an element, to sound as a attribute to that element-- and human beings have a speech, have the fundamentally different than other objects to make that happen. So those are all metaphysical, which probably Indians were somewhat advanced than the Greeks at that time. Yeah?
AUDIENCE: I can [INAUDIBLE] remark on both this talk and the structure of the talks.
AUDIENCE: I think we deal here, is like two directions of thought. One is a traditional thought with [? general ?] understanding of the world and also ethical philosophy that is called religion. And that's the same thing [INAUDIBLE] understand without data, but it's still our-- more of an ethical attitudes to things that that's partly, what [INAUDIBLE] now. And the other thing is science, that is, the [INAUDIBLE] in terms of motivational structure. So it's natural to try to reconcile the two, but things like recapitulating the ancient ideas of cognitive science like Shankara, Artistotle, somehow don't do it to me.
MISRA: Don't do what?
AUDIENCE: They-- it's primitive science, is my opinion. It's primitive cognitive science there, but, of course, it doesn't appeal to my ethics. And maybe we can also sometimes hear opinions of people who are not trying to reconcile those things, but think that--
MISRA: It's primitive because it's done at old time, or primitive because the ideas are-- because it's thousand years old, it's primitive, or because you think that's mundane, and should not discuss?
AUDIENCE: Neuroscience, how the brain is really designed-- some of these things are out of--
MISRA: Because neuroscience doesn't answer this. We go back to consciousness. See, consciousness is a particular-- that's exactly-- I went to the brain mapping project. The consciousness, if we can find in your brain what cells are there which makes you conscious. It's not a function of how you hear or how you see or how you sense. It's a function of what makes you conscious.
Our instruments at the present time, our thoughts at the present time, have failed to even understand how we synthesize, how the mind functions, even from sensory perception. What you are receiving is only some kind of sketches. We're receiving only small signals. Remember I said in the beginning that we have this very, very sketchy signals that are coming from different directions to you.
You are processing them to create an image. That processing, how it is done, which part of the brain does that, we don't know. That's the reason why we are going to make these five-micron brain map. Hopefully, we can navigate and see where it is happening. Not that I can guarantee we can see it, but that's the question.
The question is, we have all these neurons, we know how these neurons are activating themselves, we know how they are reacting to different sensory operations, but we don't know how they're synthesizing, if they're synthesizing, what time scale they're synthesizing. And then the question is, if they're synthesizing, what happens to the perception of it, the knowledge of it?
What the consciousness-- you had a good question. Consciousness could be some kind of a genetic cell. That's what I think. It could be a very minute cell which probably operates in all of us in different degrees. And probably, in some process, we get activated to it. Could be.
But you can't deny the fact that you are not conscious all the time. You can't deny the fact that sometimes you're conscious, sometimes not conscious. And your brain doesn't say that. But the same brain, the same memory, the same mind, the same intellect, same body, same blood, goes unconscious. That's the question.
It happens in children more. Yes?
FOERST: No, please, please go ahead. I just would like to finish to answer his second question.
MISRA: Yeah, another question?
FOERST: His second-- No, his second question was-- to the structure of the lecture series, I don't try to reconcile religion and science. I try to present a variety of different scientists and their ways to deal with these two. So today Professor Misra tries to reconcile them. We had other people who try to keep them apart.
We have other people who try to keep them kind of in a balance, but still-- I've tried to present a variety of people with different ways. So it's not an overall objective goal to bring the two together. I don't know-- it's probably your first lecture, otherwise you--
AUDIENCE: No, I've been here for multiple talks. But I would like to hear two more people, one who thinks that religion is it and science doesn't do anything and its view of the world is hogwash, and the other person who would think the same thing about religion. Not people who have both things and try and--
FOERST: Well, you know, I tried to invite those people. But people, if you think that science is bogus, are not scientists, and therefore they wouldn't-- I cannot present them here as scientists doing that stuff. And people who hate religion-- I invited several people, and they all denied to come. So in that sense, it's--
MISRA: No, if you asked me what my personal opinion-- religion is bogus.
FOERST: Oh, good.
MISRA: I didn't say religion at all. Did I use the word religion at all? There's no religion. It's a question ignorance. Ignorance to the point that you use the perception, and perception for a short time scale.
I don't know-- what's your-- you are a physicist, chemist, computer scientist? Yeah. So time scale. We're talking about cosmology. We're talking about how the universe begins.
How does the universe sustain itself? Do the laws that we think are true here are true elsewhere? Are they true in you and in me? If not, why not?
What we are talking consciously, from our small experiment-- which you can do yourself-- that you and your friend, seeing the same object, may not have the same perception. That's where the cognitive weakness comes in.
If the same-- you can make experiments with color. You can make experiments from the stars. You can make experiments on the-- you know, why we thought astrology was an important parameter for a long time, why people still think.
This sky looks 2D. Sky looks like it's spherical. That's a cognitive weakness. The sky, which expands so much behind-- looking to you, it's a sphere. Stars hanging in this particular sphere is our cognitive weakness.
Ignorance. And we stayed with it for a long time. We still probably-- you know, whatever we know now is still weak. So that is what you would inquire, that is there truth means how long in knowledge, what timescale the knowledge may have, and further, we can always receive full cognitive conscious feedback from our observation, from our senses.
What he's saying-- again, I don't know whether it is right or wrong to talk Shankara. I think it's a pleasure to talk Shankara and so on, because I admire him. But what he says is that probably you will never have access to full truth.
Then he of course becomes godly and so on, which you can question. I didn't show his-- I made a little picture for him, who did not come out well. But you know, it kind of inkjet-- I think it kind of-- you will kind of snark at this and say, wow, he shows a religious person's picture here and so on. But I will show you anyway.
It's kind of a typical-- it's some kind of artist projection of the man, all right? But the point is why this man thinks about this, whether it's a scientist, a religious scholar, philosopher, or has a very high IQ. I don't know. But what kind of makes me wonder that he did think about this particular knowledge and ignorance in the scientific way, that [INAUDIBLE] talks about in 1923, the same things, not with that particular detail, but with experimental-- I don't think he did an experiment. It's pure intuition.
okay, what else? Yes?
AUDIENCE: Yes, according to your lecture, would it be correct for me to assume that a machine can be intelligent, but a machine can never be knowledgeable?
MISRA: Machine is conditioned to be knowledgeable to the point that to inject knowledge to it.
AUDIENCE: Right, but that makes it illusional, because there's always a knowledge beyond that. So a machine will always be only delusional, only be intelligent, but never fully knowledgeable.
MISRA: Like all we are.
AUDIENCE: So that [INAUDIBLE] with the Hindu religion. The Hindus--
MISRA: That is correct. Yeah. Yeah, what-- it's not a Hindu religion from Shankara. I think the-- suppose you ask a Hindu religious person some, he will say he knows it.
AUDIENCE: He knows it.
MISRA: He knows it. Do a prayer or do something, something, you know what to say the truth is. But what he kind of, [INAUDIBLE] says that what you say the truth has presented to you, without having a full dose of consciousness, is only perception.
AUDIENCE: It's only a delusion.
MISRA: You take it with a pinch of salt. You take it with a lot of apprehension. And then--
AUDIENCE: It's the beginning but not the end.
MISRA: Right. Yes.
AUDIENCE: The end is when we're dead.
MISRA: I don't know whether you would really see the consciousness. I think-- I don't know. I think that to be-- they do like in the [INAUDIBLE] for that gentleman. [INAUDIBLE] that doing the yoga as a technique to determine consciousness. They're trying to do experiments to see whether we can really see, like when the person is kind of concentrating strongly, whether we can measure the brain function.
So that results will come out. They're not come out with it. I think last week there's some kind of epileptic-- you know, epilepsy-- those kind of results came out in neuroscience-- in the conference last week. But some more things will come in next-- they said this is the year of the brain, right? Decade of the brain.
Any other question? Yes?
MISRA: Oh, okay.
AUDIENCE: But go to the other slide, please.
AUDIENCE: Gentleman on the left has a [INAUDIBLE]. She asks you about a [INAUDIBLE] genes. And the organizer asked about [INAUDIBLE] and your own last sentence there says knowledge of the [INAUDIBLE] is the only truth. Shankara only are your truth. And also, therefore, copying from ancient texts wherein this pursuit of this knowledge at this stage-- lore, truth, knowledge, and love. They are all mushed together. It means a dichotomy [INAUDIBLE]. My question is, in this part-- you wil tell me what you got also, in this part of attaining that state, the text is neither the full [INAUDIBLE]. Can those bodies-- You know them, of course.
MISRA: I know, but--
AUDIENCE: Nobody's ever been [INAUDIBLE].
MISRA: I don't think we should get into that, I don't think the cognition, like what do you feel-- like what happens when you go to the objective intelligence? Like human beings know. I think that, again, know-- see, this has been done by children. [INAUDIBLE].
Have bunch of kids, 10 kids, all right? You quiz them, how much they know, what they know. Then you can find out where the loopholes are.
For the adults, it's difficult to do, because adults have so much different knowledge. And an experiment to say that, look, where the ignorance level is and how high the ignorance level is, what we do is we do the testing. We do the exams and so on. And people flunk. People move. Things happen like that.
But that is not cognitive test, that yes, I know my friend. I know my father. I think mother and son, probably a little different, because mothers know their sons, but sons do not know the-- for example, I tell you one particular experience on my part.
I look somewhat different from my family. I don't know why. So we had a person we were working for in our home, and she kind of made me feel that-- and my mom was a little strict. She was a very strong disciplinarian. So she will kind of always yell that if I don't come home at a particular time or something.
So this woman, for whatever reason, she will tell me that, look, you are not her son.
And I mean, I was, like, 11, 12 years old or something. I said, wow. How do I deal with this, you know? How do I deal with this? What is this?
So I talked to her-- I had-- you know, my father is a liberal person. So we had, like-- I called a conference. My father was there. Mom was there in this thing.
I sat down. I said, look, I have something important to ask, and so on. And then they said-- they're sitting here. I'm sitting here.
So I told them. It was 1959. I asked them-- I asked my dad, but how do I know I'm your son?
How do you know you are your father's son? You can do a DNA test now. Shankara didn't know that.
My point is these are cognitive issues, issues that you, through your perception, through your senses, you're receiving information from the other object to create an association. That association, how scientific it is, how truthful it is, how objective it is, is up to you. What this says-- it can become objective if you are totally conscious.
Unfortunately, we are not all the time fully conscious. Is there a way to be conscious? We do not know. And religion takes over there.
FOERST: I'm sorry, we have to interrupt.
MISRA: okay. Very good. Thank you again.
FOERST: Thank you so much for coming.