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Dao of the Go: Contextualizing “Spirituality,” “Intelligence,” and the Human Self

Issue: Vol 20 No. 3 (2017) Special Issue: Artificial Intelligence and Religion. Guest Editor: Beth Singler

Journal: Implicit Religion

Subject Areas: Religious Studies

DOI: 10.1558/imre.35893


The remarkable defeat of Lee Sedol, an international Go champion by AlphaGo, a computer program, raised again the question of the future of humanity vis-à-vis increasingly competent machine intelligence. Exploring the origin of Go in East Asia, we find that the rational capacity emphasised in the Go game was traditionally associated with spiritual meanings while the etymology of spirituality in English reveals a connection with rational humanity. The cultural paradigms of intelligence invite us to rethink the dichotomy between ‘spirituality’ and ’intelligence’, so as to abate the alienation we feel towards AI-based technologies that are simulated upon our own intelligence. The contextualization of intelligence and spirituality further provides a model of resistance against the homogenizing forces and assumptions of globalization without succumbing to cultural stereotypes, which also renders a framework for the development of AI philosophy and technologies beyond universalism while addressing the future concerning the human collective.

Author: Ting Guo

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