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Sikhism’s core tenets, equality, truth, seva (selfless service), community, and environmental stewardship, provide an ethical framework for addressing AI’s challenges. Sikhs are called to prevent biases, ensure transparency, advocate for social justice, and support those impacted by AI-driven changes. The emphasis on community highlights the need for inclusive decision-making and equitable AI benefits, while environmental stewardship urges the integration of sustainability into AI development, aligning with Sikh spiritual values.

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Ethical and moral considerations regarding artificial intelligence (AI) are not confined to any single religion or belief system; rather, they permeate across diverse cultures and faiths, including Sikhism [1-9]. As Sikhs engage with the advancements and implications of AI, they confront a myriad of ethical dilemmas rooted in their religious principles and values. Central to Sikhism is the belief in the equality of all beings, the pursuit of truth, and the importance of seva (selfless service) to humanity [10-12]. These core tenets intersect with AI in profound ways, raising questions about the impact of technology on human dignity, justice, and social responsibility. 

One of the fundamental ethical concerns in Sikhism related to AI is preserving human dignity and autonomy. Sikhs believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every individual, emphasizing the importance of treating all with respect and compassion. However, as AI systems become increasingly integrated into various aspects of society, there is a risk of dehumanization and the erosion of human agency. For example, using AI in predictive policing or algorithmic decision-making processes may perpetuate biases and discrimination, leading to unjust outcomes and the violation of human rights. Sikhs, guided by the principle of equality [12], are called to advocate for the ethical development and deployment of AI technologies that uphold the dignity and autonomy of all individuals, regardless of their background or identity. 

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Moreover, Sikhism emphasizes the pursuit of truth as a foundational principle [10-11]. The use of AI in generating and disseminating information raises concerns about the authenticity and integrity of knowledge. In an era of deepfakes and algorithmic manipulation, distinguishing truth from falsehood becomes increasingly challenging. Sikhs are encouraged to evaluate the sources and implications of information critically propagated through AI systems, striving to uphold the value of truth in their interactions with technology and society. Furthermore, as AI algorithms shape online discourse and influence public opinion, Sikhs are called to promote ethical practices actively, prioritizing transparency, accountability, and the pursuit of truth in the digital sphere.

Additionally, the concept of seva (selfless service) [10-12] holds significant relevance in the context of AI ethics for Sikhs. Seva is central to Sikh identity, reflecting a commitment to serving humanity and promoting social justice. As AI technologies continue to shape economic systems and labor markets, Sikhs must consider their ethical responsibilities towards those whose livelihoods may be affected by automation and digitalization. This includes advocating for policies that mitigate the negative impacts of AI on employment, as well as supporting initiatives that ensure equitable access to education and opportunities in the digital age. Furthermore, Sikhs can contribute to the ethical development of AI by engaging in seva-oriented projects that harness technology for the betterment of society, such as using AI for healthcare, disaster relief, or environmental conservation.

Moreover, the Sikh concept of sangat (community) underscores the importance of collective well-being and solidarity [10-12]. In the realm of AI ethics, this principle calls for inclusive decision-making processes that involve diverse perspectives and prioritize the interests of marginalized communities. Sikhs are encouraged to advocate for the equitable distribution of AI benefits and to challenge systems of power and privilege that perpetuate inequalities. This may involve supporting initiatives that address algorithmic bias, promote diversity in tech, and foster greater transparency and accountability in AI governance. By actively engaging in sangat-oriented approaches to AI ethics, Sikhs can contribute to creating more just and inclusive technological systems that serve the needs of all members of society.

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Furthermore, Sikhism emphasizes the interconnectedness of all creation and the stewardship of the earth as a sacred duty [13-14]. As AI continues to shape environmental systems and resource allocation, Sikhs are called to consider the ecological implications of technological development. This includes addressing the carbon footprint of AI infrastructure, as well as exploring ways in which AI can be leveraged to mitigate climate change and promote sustainable practices. By integrating earth-centred ethics into AI discussions, Sikhs can contribute to developing environmentally responsible technologies that align with their spiritual values and principles. 

In conclusion, the ethical and moral challenges of AI present complex and multifaceted issues for Sikhs, intersecting with their religious principles and values in profound ways. From concerns about human dignity and autonomy to the pursuit of truth, seva, community, and environmental stewardship, Sikhism provides a rich framework for engaging with the ethical dimensions of AI. By drawing upon these principles, Sikhs can contribute to the development and deployment of AI technologies that promote justice, compassion, and the well-being of all beings.

 

References

  1. Dorobantu, M. (2019). Recent advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and some of the issues in the theology & AI dialogue. ESSSAT News and Reviews. 4-17.
  2. Geraci, R.M. (2008). Apocalyptic AI: Religion and the Promise of Artificial Intelligence. Journal of the American Academy of Religion. 76 (1). 138-166.
  3. Olaore, I. B., Nwosu, J. C, Oladipo, S. & Oyenuga, E. O. (2014). Artificial Intelligence (AI): The Christian Perspective, Journal of Information Engineering and Applications. 4 (11). 96-100.
  4. Pinto.I. (2022). The Contemporary Possibilities and Challenges of Artificial Intelligence: A Theological Appraisal. Indian Journal of Family Studies. 69-80.
  5. Rendsburg, M. A. (2019). The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Religion: Reconciling a New Relationship with God. United Nations & Global Policy Studies. Rutgers University, the State University of New Jersey. 1-26. 
  6. Hardev Singh Virk. (2023). Role of Sikh Scripture in the Modern Scientific Era of Artificial Intelligence. Proc. IISR Symposium. Pune.India.
  7. Devinder Pal Singh. (2023). Sikhism and Artificial Intelligence - The Mutual Relevance, Understanding Sikhism: The Research Journal. 25 (1). 153-157. 
  8. Devinder Pal Singh. (2023). Challenges of AI for Promoting Sikhism in the 21st Century (Guest Editorial). The Sikh Review, Kolkata, WB, India 71 (9). 6-8. 
  9. Devinder Pal Singh. (2023). Using Artificial Intelligence for Promoting Sikhism- Beneficial or Harmful. Sikh Philosophy Network. Chandigarh. India. https://www.sikhphilosophy.net/threads/using-artificial-intelligence-for...
  10. Sri Guru Granth Sahib (SGGS), (1983). (Reprint), S.G.P.C., Amritsar, p 1-1430.
  11. D. P. Singh. (2014, July-Aug.). Relevance of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in 21st Century, The Sikh Bulletin, 17 (7& 8).  18-22.
  12. Devinder Pal Singh. (2019). Universal Relevance of Guru Nanak’s Teachings, The Sikh Review, Part -I: 67(11). 15-21; (Part -II): 67 (12). 19-30.
  13. Devinder Pal Singh. (2009, Nov.) Interdependence of Things: A Gurbani Perspective, The Sikh Review, Kolkata. WB. India. 57(11). 11-14.
  14. D. P. Singh. (2021, Aug.). Ecological Teachings in Sikh Theology. Academia Letters, USA. Article 2653. 
  15. Photos: Courtesy Google.

 

Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

Dr. Devinder Pal Singh

Dr Devinder Pal Singh, Center for Understanding Sikhism, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, has published about 100 articles on various aspects of Sikhism in several newspapers and magazines of English, Punjabi and Hindi.

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