Book: Sceptical Spirituality

Artificial Intelligence (AI), sentient machines, and metaphysics

Ground zero, knowledge-wise?

Peter Eastman
7 min readFeb 20


Collage representing the ‘psychedelic’ possibilities of AI.
Everyone will know everything. (Artwork by the author.)

Let us imagine a machine so intelligent that it ‘knows’ everything, in terms of up-to-date, fact-based, transferable, objective and subjective human knowledge. Is there then anything left for it to know? Can it answer the question ‘what’s existence all about?’ No, because such a question is not related to fact-based knowledge, and never will be.

The debate (or ongoing discussion) about Artificial Intelligence (AI) is, when it comes to metaphysics and spirituality, extremely interesting and provocative — insofar as it brings directly into play a number of crucial issues — but the debate, unfortunately, collapses in on itself when we start asking genuinely metaphysical questions. AI — no matter how advanced it becomes — does not and cannot destroy, for once and for all, the key questions which the human condition imposes on those who somehow come to recognise the human metaphysical predicament for what it is.

And what is that predicament? Not knowing ultimately ‘what’s what’, yet feeling/sensing that it might, against all the evidence, be somehow possible to find out ultimately ‘what’s what.’ In other words, what is the point of existence in the first place?

A fair amount of intellectual/philosophical/conceptual housekeeping is required here if we are not to confuse a number of distinct issues, and descend into circularity and absurdism. Unfortunately these issues we will be discussing are, in their very nature, confusing and misdirecting and deeply divisive, so we will need to keep our wits about us — and probably find it necessary to repeat certain points for emphasis — if we are to maintain clarity of thought and purpose.

A humanoid robotic future

Opening gambit: let’s imagine we are 500 years into the future, in a more or less recognisable world, except for the fact that technology has advanced massively along the lines with which we are already familiar. Supposedly sentient robots (humanoid to the nth degree) have long been amongst us. Most people would have no idea — nor would they care — that their friends and companions and lovers and gurus are…



Peter Eastman

Independent Buddhist counsellor, teacher & writer. A quest for an objective spiritual Truth, devoid of any type of doctrine, belief or religion. Scepticism 101.