In another post, I posed some questions about how artificial intelligence and Theosophy might fit together. The ensuing discussion was riveting, but the question is still burning in my mind. Much was brought into the discussion, including the overall progress of research in artificial intelligence, along with some insights that can be gleaned from the way humanity has evolved. I’d like to reframe the question, beginning with a quote from The Secret Doctrine:
“Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’ a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no
emergence of consciousness could ensue.”
So we have Cosmic Ideation (is it right to call this parabrahman?) and Cosmic Substance (mulaprakriti?) as two sides of the same coin–joined together by Fohat, and separated from each other only at a cursory glance. At a deeper lever, they cannot be separated. Consciousness flows through all matter, every atom. It is there, perhaps undifferentiated, but certainly latent within everything.
It is able to become reflective, individual and self-identifying thanks to its being contained within a vehicle of matter.
The materialist view holds that consciousness is emergent from matter–in a chicken-or-egg scenario, it says matter is the egg, that consciousness is nothing more or less than the result of highly complex but ultimately mechanical interactions between the billions of parts of a very complex machine, the brain.
Is it possible they’re onto something? My interpretation of the above passage tells me that the only difference between the materialistic view and the view expressed in the Secret Doctrine is that the SD asserts that consciousness is already latent in matter–but that, given a complex enough vehicle, that latent consciousness can be brought out of its undifferentiated state and become active as an individual center of conscious force.
In the prior discussion, this was framed in the context of consciousness as it manifests in humanity–but even within Theosophical writing, we have examples of modes of consciousness that work a bit differently (such as devas). So, putting the instance of the evolution of humans aside, thinking outside that established box and using these basic principles as a jumping-off point, what’s the verdict? Theoretically speaking, is it possible that with the creation of a material vessel complex enough, the latent, undifferentiated consciousness within its matter, driven by Fohat, could be molded into such a center of conscious force? Would we then have a conscious machine? Why or why not?