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BBT Africa Hosts Fascinating Lecture Exploring AI, Humanity, and God

ISKCON News

(iskconnews.org) – ISKCON News | BBT-Africa Hosts Fascinating Lecture Exploring AI, Humanity, and God

The Bhaktivedanta Book Trust Africa (BBT) hosted the 10th Annual Bhaktivedanta Swami Lecture, presented in honour of His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (1896-1977), the founder of ISKCON and the BBT. His literary contribution continues to be appreciated by global audiences for his Vedic commentary on national priorities like education and leadership.  The lecture premiered today, August 30th, on YouTube.

This year’s Bhaktivedanta Swami Lecture focuses on AI, Humanity, and God. AI has become urgent and developing at an exponential rate. Some experts believe that by 2050, people may worship a super AI God. While AI surpasses human intelligence and has excelled in various sectors, it remains bereft of heartfelt emotions, the softness of compassion and love.

The keynote speaker is His Holiness Svayam Bhagavan Keshava Swami. Keshava Swami is a spiritual author and teacher who accepted vows of renunciation in 2022. He shares from a Vedic viewpoint the necessity of higher spiritual consciousness feeding machine super intelligence for the benefit of humanity. “While AI increases intelligence capacity, for humanity to remain at the epicentre it requires the awakening of the soul to utilise that higher spiritual intelligence for social upliftment through technology. Science makes things better, but spirituality makes people better.”

Joining the conversation is guest speaker, the Chief Operating Officer of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, Itumeleng Monale. Itumeleng was recognised as an IBM Global Women in AI Honouree in 2020 and named one of the top one hundred Global Data Visionaries of 2020.

Itumeleng shares insights on having humanity’s best intentions at heart, which is required for AI to be a useful tool. She also delves into the risks because AI is a human-generated construct, and human beings are flawed, with intrinsic bias. There is a need for enriched experiences.

“We need to make sure the balance on how AI and technology are developed over time as a growing body of knowledge that is fed by interested people who have humanity’s best interest at heart. Most of the time, the type of people in the industry feeding the knowledge base only have commercial outcomes as an objective. That which makes us well is community, connection, and as basic as human touch that a robot cannot give.”

The thoughtful conversation is facilitated by Nanda Padayachee, Associate Director at Boston Consulting Group. Nanda has more than 15 years of experience in data, AI, digital, and innovation. One of the salient questions Nanda posed was, “Often we see the role of technology as it becomes more pervasive and expansive, we start to become more isolated. The essence of spirituality is that shared connection. How can technology be adapted to deepen connection and relationships as opposed to diverting our attention?”

To watch the full lecture, which premiered today, visit the YouTube link. To learn more about BBT-Africa and follow its service, visit its website, Facebook page, or email them at info@bbtafrica.co.za.

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