Published on: May 11, 2024

Research on Buddha’s teachings and Artificial Intelligence will commence next year

  • A budget of LKR 01 billion will be allocated for this initiative- Says the President.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe emphasised that LKR 01 billion will be allocated next year for research on the relationship between Buddha’s teachings and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The President mentioned that while the research on Buddha’s teachings and AI was scheduled to begin this year, it has been postponed to next year due to the absence of required legislation for the regulation of Artificial Intelligence. He emphasized that the subsequent steps will be taken once the new laws are adopted.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made this statement during his attendance at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Sri Lanka Buddhist Society Moratuwa, held today (11) at the Moratuwa Buddhist Society Hall.

The Moratuwa Buddhist Society Hall, initiated under the Sri Lanka Buddhist Society Moratuwa, had its foundation stone laid in 1925. This society was established on May 11, 1924, under the leadership of Mr. Arthur V. Dias. The building was inaugurated as the Buddhist Headquarters for Buddhist population in Moratuwa on June 24, 1929, by the then Governor of British Ceylon Sir Herbert J. Stanley with officiating the opening ceremony. Additionally, on that same day, the foundation stone for Moratuwa College was also laid.

The President reiterated that the government will finance the restoration of the Moratuwa Buddhist Society Hall, which is approaching its centenary.

During his visit to the Moratuwa Buddhist Society Hall this afternoon, President Ranil Wickremesinghe participated in solemn religious ceremonies before the sacred Buddha statue. The Maha Sangha meticulously adorned the Seth Pirith and extended blessings to the President.

Additionally, the President participated in the ceremonial planting of a sandalwood tree on the premises, symbolizing the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Moratuwa Buddhist Society.

The Vice President of Moratuwa Buddhist Society Dhammika Chandranath Fernando presented the centenary commemorative souvenir to President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Additionally, the most senior member of the Moratuwa Buddhist Society Ranjith Gamanayake, along with Vice Presidents Pradeep Sriyantha Fernando, Dhammika Chandranath Fernando, Gamini Perera, and Regional Secretary Keerthi Perera, also presented a commemorative gift to the President.

Furthermore, commemorative gifts were extended to Minister of Justice, Prison Affairs and Constitutional Reforms Wijayadasa Rajapaksa, Member of Parliament Eran Wickramaratne, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security & Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayaka and former Mayor of Moratuwa Samanlal Fernando.

Additionally, a picture of the Moratuwa Buddhist Society Hall, featuring a portrait of President Ranil Wickremesinghe painted by W. A. Imasha Shavindra Ashinshana a student from the Moratuwa College student, was also presented to the President.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe, speaking at the event, added:

“Today, the world is confronted with a significant threat posed by climate change. The unprecedented intensity of sunlight we’re experiencing is unlike anything we’ve encountered before. We find ourselves in a challenging situation that requires focused efforts to mitigate climate warming. Additionally, we’re grappling with a substantial water scarcity issue. It’s essential to approach these challenges in alignment with the teachings of Buddha.

In the next two or three decades, climate change will emerge as one of the primary global challenges. According to Buddha’s teachings, this issue stems from civilization’s greed for rapid progress. The widespread desire for advancement has led to increased vehicle usage, resulting in significant environmental damage. Consequently, human society has inflicted considerable harm on the environment. Hence, it’s crucial to prioritize efforts to control climate change.

Today, the world is witnessing rapid technological advancements. Despite initial beliefs after the atomic bomb explosion in 1945 that technological progress might cease, there has been significant advancement across all sectors. Particularly, the IT sector has seen remarkable progress. During our school days, computers and mobile phones were non-existent, but with modern technological advancements, we now have access to Artificial Intelligence.

We are currently at the dawn of Artificial Intelligence, prompting questions about its trajectory over the next two decades. It’s essential to explore the relationship between artificial intelligence and Buddhism.

Buddha’s teachings emphasize the power of our minds in shaping our lives. By mastering our minds, we pave the way for progress; failure to do so leaves us with no future. This message was specifically intended for humanity, highlighting the importance of controlling our minds to overcome desires.

Now, artificial intelligence (AI) mirrors the capabilities of the human mind. AI can process vast amounts of information and operate accordingly. Therefore, it’s pertinent to explore the connection between Buddha’s teachings and AI, considering their shared focus on the mind’s control and its implications for our actions.

If artificial intelligence promotes a different religion, it could pose a threat to Buddhism, so it’s crucial to consider this possibility. Throughout history, Buddhism in Sri Lanka has been influenced by Hinduism, Mahayana and political influences. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, it adds another layer of influence. Therefore, we must contemplate whether AI might propagate alternative doctrines.

It’s essential for people to contemplate the implications of integrating Dhamma with the mobile devices they use. This issue extends beyond Buddhism to other religions as well.

Hence, we are implementing new regulations to oversee artificial intelligence. The Ministry of Technology has drafted legislation for technology development, including plans to establish an artificial intelligence centre. Countries like the United Kingdom and the European Union have already enacted laws to govern artificial intelligence, and we must follow suit.

Moreover, there are plans to allocate LKR 01 Billion next year for research on the interconnection between Buddha’s teachings and artificial intelligence. Although originally slated for this year, the initiative has been deferred to next year due to pending laws and regulations concerning AI oversight. Consequently, we anticipate introducing new legislation to kick-start these endeavours”.

This event was graced by the Maha Sangharathna including Venerable Magalle Nagitha Thero the Chief incumbent of the Moratuwella Dhamma Niketana International Buddhist Centre & Amarapura Kalyanivamsika Sri Saddhamma Justice Sect, Venerable Ariyagnana Thero the Panadura Sangha Council Judicial Sangha leader and the Chief incumbent of Koralawella Walukarama Maha Viharaya, Venerable Gampola Sugunadhaja Thero the Chairman of the Moratuwa Shasanarakshaka Bala Mandalaya and the Chief incumbent of Moratuwa Indibedda Sri Sudharma Ratnarama Viharaya, Shasthrapathi Venerable Udugama Wimalakitthi Thero the Chief incumbent of Moratuwa Horetuduwa Purana Sanghikarama Vihara and Angulane Gnanavimala Buddhist Centre, other religious priests and a large number of people including members of Sri Lanka Buddhist Society Moratuwa.

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