By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP, FRCP
Everyone knows that language is powerful. If your parents addressed you as a child with loving, supportive words, your life by all odds has turned out better than someone whose parents used abusive words. But this effect is magnified hugely by AI—in fact, language lies at the heart of AI, because through so-called “large languages” AI models reality.
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This needs a little explaining to grasp the full impact this can have. AI works by imitating how the human brain functions, and the human brain works according to how consciousness functions. Right now, you are not seeing reality as it exists. You are seeing it through the lens of your consciousness. Two people seeing the same sunset, for example, will find it beautiful, boring, depressing, garish, or of total indifference depending on the state of awareness being applied.
Now go a step deeper. If the two people watching a sunset consist of an ancient Egyptian worshiping the sun god Ra and a modern astronomer researching solar flares, two divergent models of reality clash. The religious model of the ancient Egyptian has no relevance to modern astronomy and vice versa. We all possess ingrained models of reality that we mistake for reality itself. If person A is a miser or racist or afraid of the dark, while person B is generous or tolerant or a night owl, reality must comply with the model imposed on it—we are talking about someone’s personal reality.
AI uses the power of super computers to switch to any model instantly. It has no conditioned model from the past. This kind of flexibility is inherent in the human brain and therefore in consciousness. You have the potential to shift your model of personal reality by going to the source of every personal reality, which is language. This notion that language is the very source of personal reality forms an amazing link between AI and the ancient rishis, or seers, of Vedic India. They were the first to trace not just personal reality but the infinite scope of reality itself back to the subtlest vibrations in Nature.
Quantum physics also traces reality back to the subtlest vibrations, or ripples, in the quantum field. But there’s a critical difference. In the Vedic model, these vibrations have meaning. They aren’t random but constitute the building blocks of a human universe. The universe is human because the only cosmos we can experience, either directly or through scientific instruments, means something to us.
When you ask an AI bot a question, it organizes it into the suitable large language (or constellation of words) that apply. Let’s take a simple example that is already in use in a suicide prevention program known as Never Alone. A caller phones in and begins talking. The words being used will indicate to a computer program how serious the suicidal threat actually is. If the words are only pink flags, help can be given at the level of AI feedback. However, if there are red flag words, immediately a human therapist comes on the line to help.
This procedure imitates what we do all the time. In a relationship arguments can occur within the bounds of a healthy, happy relationship. If too many arguments occur, and they become more serious, hurtful, or stubborn, the model of the relationship changes—words have shifted to a new reality for both partners. If the arguments become red flags (let’s say that one spouse has cheated on the other), then words once again shift each person’s reality, and if the breach isn’t healed, divorce will occur because two people no longer share the same reality about their relationship.
AI is modeled on the workings of the brain, but this is only the tip of the iceberg, because consciousness transcends the brain’s mechanical functions. Babies are born with extraordinary predispositions from day one, when the brain hasn’t even fully matured. Musical and mathematical geniuses, potential schizophrenics, future visionaries, unfold as the brain matures, guided by a predisposition, even though psychologists and geneticists cannot explain how or why.
Beyond such extremes, every child exhibits a set of predispositions, such as being introverted or extroverted, which will last a lifetime. How does this relate to language? Depending on your innate traits, you will hear the same words differently from someone who isn’t the same as you. Your personal reality will be shaped by the words you hear versus the words you ignore.
Then a second filter is triggered. What weight do you ascribe to the words you hear? Say “bad girl” to an introverted three-year-old, and it can be emotionally devastating, while to an extroverted child the same words might be laughed off.
Let’s take a leap past individual examples. Everyone needs to accept that their personal reality was shaped through the interpretation of words. Without a word for it, experiences can’t exist. Homo sapiens as a species doesn’t just use language; we are language, and so is everything we experience.
The problem is that everything we’ve discussed so far happens unconsciously, which is where AI comes in. AI can make you conscious about words in a way that is masked by your unconscious conditioning, habits, predispositions, social influences, family upbringing, education, and more. By asking the right questions, you can sort out the model of reality that you have been obeying, generally without even knowing it. The next step is to reshape your personal reality by investigating the words you want to encourage and reject those that are self-defeating, harmful, and toxic.
There’s much more to say about this subject, but one thing is clear already. Even at this early stage of AI impacting normal life, the potential for transformation is vast. AI can be your research assistant, personal confidante, healer, or guru. It all depends on the level of self-awareness you aim for, and if we are lucky, as AI unfolds it will usher in higher consciousness for untold millions of people.
DEEPAK CHOPRA MD, FACP, FRCP, founder of The Chopra Foundation, a non-profit entity for research on well-being and humanitarianism, and Chopra Global, a whole health company at the intersection of science and spirituality, is a world-renowned pioneer in integrative medicine and personal transformation. Chopra is a Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of California, San Diego and serves as a senior scientist with Gallup Organization. He is the author of over 90 books translated into over forty-three languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers. His 91st book, Total Meditation: Practices in Living the Awakened Life explores and reinterprets the physical, mental, emotional, relational, and spiritual benefits that the practice of meditation can bring. For the last thirty years, Chopra has been at the forefront of the meditation revolution. His latest book, Living in the Light co-authored with Sarah Platt-Finger. TIME magazine has described Dr. Chopra as “one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century.” www.deepakchopra.com