What are the parallels between a computer algorithm and a concept of conditioning – Samskara?

In Hindu philosophy, samskaras are the impressions, patterns, or habits that are formed in the mind as a result of our actions and experiences. These samskaras shape our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour, and they are believed to carry over from one lifetime to the next.

On the other hand, a computer algorithm is a set of instructions or rules that govern the behaviour of a computer program or system. Algorithms can be simple or complex, and they are designed to solve specific problems or achieve certain goals.

Despite their apparent differences, there are some interesting parallels between samskaras and computer algorithms:

  1. Both are based on patterns and repetition: Samskaras are formed through repeated thoughts, emotions, and actions, while algorithms are based on repeating sets of instructions.
  2. Both shape our behaviour: Samskaras influence our choices, habits, and personality, while algorithms determine the actions and output of a computer program.
  3. Both can be modified or changed: Samskaras can be transformed or dissolved through spiritual practices such as yoga, meditation, or self-reflection, while algorithms can be modified or optimised through programming or updates.
  4. Both can have unintended consequences: Samskaras can lead to unconscious patterns or negative behaviours, while algorithms can produce unintended outcomes or biases if not carefully designed and tested.
  5. Both can be influenced by external factors: Samskaras can be reinforced or transformed by our environment, relationships, and experiences, while algorithms can be affected by input data, user feedback, or changes in technology.

Overall, the parallels between samskaras and computer algorithms suggest that there may be some underlying principles or laws that govern the way patterns and habits are formed and expressed, whether in the human mind or in the realm of technology. Understanding these principles could help us to design more effective algorithms, as well as to cultivate more positive and conscious samskaras in our own lives.

“The Buddha emphasised the need to pacify or appease dispositions rather than eliminate them completely.

Kalupahana states that “the elimination of dispositions is epistemological suicide,” as dispositions determine our perspectives. The development of one’s personality in the direction of perfection or imperfection rests with one’s dispositions.

When preliminary nibbana with substrate occurs (that is, nibbana of a living being),  constructive consciousness, that is, the house-builder, is completely destroyed and no new formations will be constructed. However, sankharas in the sense of constructed consciousness, which exists as a ‘karmically-resultant-consciousness’ (vipāka viññāna), continue to exist. Each liberated individual produces no new karma, but preserves a particular individual personality which is the result of the traces of his or her karmic heritage. The very fact that there is a psycho-physical substrate during the remainder of an arahant’s lifetime shows the continuing effect of karma.”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saṅkhāra

The quote above emphasises the importance of pacifying or appeasing dispositions rather than eliminating them completely, as dispositions are an integral part of our perspectives and personalities. This idea aligns with the concept of samskaras in Hindu philosophy, which are believed to shape our thoughts, emotions, and behaviour based on our past experiences and actions.

Similarly, computer algorithms are designed to follow a set of instructions or rules, and their behaviour is shaped by the patterns and data they have been trained on. While it is possible to modify or optimise algorithms, completely eliminating them would mean forfeiting the benefits they provide in terms of problem-solving and automation.

In both cases, the emphasis is on recognising the importance of our past experiences and actions in shaping our current selves, and finding ways to work with them rather than trying to erase them completely. The quote also highlights the idea that even when we achieve a state of enlightenment or liberation, we still carry with us the traces of our past karma and experiences, much like how algorithms are still shaped by the data they have been trained on.