This project aims to integrate cognitive neuroscience, human health, artificial intelligence, philosophy of mind and the arts to better understand how artificial intelligence (AI) may contribute to human flourishing. Our central premise is that AI technology may contribute positively to human agency, and we focus on understanding variation in individual and cultural approaches to living and thriving with AI.
We begin from the picture of the human mind as an embodied prediction machine, the now dominant systems-level model in cognitive neuroscience. This same framework is being applied today to designing and developing adaptive and successful AI. As such, it provides researchers a powerful bridge between neuroscience and computation research, and provides a solid basis for the type of interdisciplinary thinking needed to understand the complex integration of human and artificial intelligence. Central to this research project are three questions: how can human happiness and wellbeing can be supported and enhanced by human-AI interactions; how can we better design AI with human happiness and flourishing in mind; and the controversial, but useful, question of what flourishing might look like for artificial selves and cyborg agents.
This research is being carried out across a number of projects, with researchers such as David Harris (McMaster University), Chris Burr (Alan Turing Institute), Andy Clark (University of Sussex), Felix Schoeller (Impossible Technology), and Casper Hesp (University of Amsterdam).
The picture of the human mind as an embodied prediction machine is now the dominant systems-level model in cognitive neuroscience. Grounded in these new (formally specifiable and empirically testable) cognitive scientific understandings, this project will begin to address some of the questions concerning human nature, character virtue, and routes to human flourishing. What mental attitudes and embodied skills are most conducive to human flourishing, why are these effective, and what practical implications does this have for the many ways we structure our own worlds and practices? By addressing these themes under the overarching umbrella of predictive processing we aim to reveal the shape of a new science of human wellbeing, and to explore how patterned practices, the human-built environment and the wider socio-technological niche can most positively (or negatively) impact our physical and mental health.
This research project is being carried out across multiple projects, with various researchers, including Andy Clark (University of Sussex); Erik Rietveld (Amsterdam Medical Centre), Julian Kiverstein (Amsterdam Medical Centre), Maxwell Ramstead (McGill), and many more.
The aim of this project is to Investigate the potential of meditation practice to increase our capacities for the control of attention, emotional flourishing, prosociality, empathy, altruism, and compassion. To do so we are leveraging a combination of novel neuroimaging and computational modelling techniques, which are making it possible for the first time, to construct maps of the causal processes in the brain that underwrite the control of attention in meditation. Using these techniques we are creating empirically constrained models of the mechanisms and contexts that facilitate or hinder meditation. In this way we are aiming to help foster a new science of meditation - a computational contemplative neuroscience. As part of this project we are in the process of using these models to design an empirically informed meditation course that provides specialized instructions based on a personalized, data driven model of student performance.
This research is being carried out across various projects, with a number of researchers, including Maxwell Ramstead (McGill University), Lars Sandved-Smith (UCL), Bassam Khoury (McGill University), Soham Rej (McGill University), Guillaume Dumas (Institut Pasteur), Michael Lifshitz (Stanford University). We have two separate project in the running for the Mind & Life Institute's PEACE grant 2020.
Here are a few of the overarching themes I am currently working within.