Dr. Nikki Mirghafori – Bringing Ethics and Wisdom to AI: Navigating the Ever Growing Potentials & Challenges of Artificial Intelligence

Dr Nikki Mirghafori AI Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

In this engaging, informative, and thought provoking conversation, artificial intelligence expert Dr. Nikki Mirghafori gives us a clear picture of where AI technology stands at this point and enlightens us as to its gifts, its potential, and its dangers. Nikki, who is also an internationally acclaimed Buddhist meditation teacher, is passionate about helping to bring equanimity to the whole issue of AI and emphasizes that the fear mongering going on around it is doing all of us a real disservice. She opens our eyes to the enormous potential of AI as applied to global issues such as cleaning up the environment, ending hunger, providing clean water, improving methods of food production—even acting as a wise mentor in supporting people to be their best selves. Nikki tells us that ethical use of AI depends on both designers and users, and that we are not powerless in the way things unfold. 

How can AI systems be benevolent and supportive and bring out the best in us? Will we be able to maintain our values and ethics as our use of AI continues to expand? If our perception of AI was sort of murky or limited before, this conversation effectively brings us to a much more informed understanding. Nikki explains everything from where we have been exposed to AI without knowing it, the important distinction between weak/narrow AI and strong/general AI (AGI), personal choice engineering, our natural tendency to anthropomorphize AI, and the difference between benevolent AI and compassionate AI. Nikki is a superb teacher and a pleasure to listen to; this conversation is invaluable in its timeliness and its ability to bring us all up to speed on AI. Recorded January 29, 2024.

“There’s so much good that can come from this technology… the list is endless how much AI technology can be helpful.”

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Topics & Time Stamps

  • Introducing AI research scientist and inventor & gifted meditation teacher and practitioner, Dr. Nikki Mirghafori (01:13)
  • What exactly is AI? (03:07)
  • The important distinction between weak or narrow AI and strong or general AI (AGI) (05:11)
  • AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) which is self-aware and conscious is still only theoretical: fear mongering around AGI is really a disservice to us (06:46)
  • Where have people been exposed to AI without even knowing it? (10:28) 
  • The gifts that AI technology can bring are endless (13:33)
  • The most exciting AI applications for Nikki: finding creative ways to clean up the environment, stop hunger, provide clean water, produce our food, and be a mentor in supporting people to be their best selves (15:07)
  • Pattern recognition: taking input patterns and producing output patterns is the heart/brain of AI (17:35)
  • How can AI help us to become wiser and more compassionate? The ethics of AI depend on both designer and user (20:14)
  • Creating AI in our image and how our developmental level fits in—it’s in the data that the AI system is fed (28:16)
  • Personal choice engineering (32:11) 
  • Kids have become ruder interacting with chatbots like Siri & Alexa: how can we keep our humanity alive and be true to our ethics as we interact with AI? (34:40)
  • Resisting temptation and avoiding sliding down the slippery ethical slope (36:50)
  • What is the mystery of being human? We don’t even know what consciousness is (40:43)
  • The New York Times journalist who was told to leave his wife by a chatbot (45:11)
  • Our natural tendency to project on and anthropomorphize artificial intelligence—many people will be fooled (46:53)
  • Does AI have the potential for exponential growth? AI’s self-improving capacity does not exist now—and may never exist—but parameters, computational power, and storage capacity have become far greater & neural net training has become faster (48:42)
  • Bringing equanimity to the issue of AI (52:42)
  • Why Nikki likes the term “benevolent AI” versus “compassionate AI” (54:23)

Resources & References

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Dr Nikki Mirghafori AI Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Dr. Nikki Mirghafori is an Artificial Intelligence scientist and an internationally recognized Buddhist teacher. She serves as a Stewarding Teacher at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, where she is also on the Board of Directors, and a Dharma Teacher at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, CA.  She teaches with clarity, warmth, and humor on topics ranging from mindful leadership to cultivating kindness, with a rare expertise on mindfulness of death. Dr. Mirghafori is widely published in AI, has led international research collaborations as a Berkeley academic, and advised technology startups. She is of Persian heritage, an advocate for wisdom and compassion in daily life, as well as ethical AI in our zeitgeist. More info at https://www.nikkimirghafori.com.

Podcast produced by Vanessa Santos and Show Notes by Heidi Mitchell

Besides his passion for getting the invaluable conversations on the Deep Transformation Podcast out to the world, co-host John Dupuy is also dedicated to encouraging the use of brainwave entrainment technology for its transformative effects. John has been working personally and professionally with brainwave entrainment technology since 2004, and in 2010, he co-founded iAwake Technologies to help create high quality soundtracks using this technology, which supports the healing of emotional/shadow issues, deepens meditation, mental focus, creativity, and flow states, and enhances a daily integral transformative practice.

To experience the effects for yourself, you can download a free sample of the Stealing Flow Warm-up track here, for a 25-minute, full-spectrum, whole-brain workoutWe hope you enjoy it!