Spiritual Computing

Talk: Thrs Sept 4


How spiritual principles are being integrated into the design of
next-generation technologies…and what does this mean for Thailand?

By Craig Warren Smith, PhD
Senior Advisor, Human Interactive Technology Laboratory, University of
Room 708, Boromratchakumari Bldg., Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn
University, Thursday, September 4, 2008, 2 – 4 pm
What is Spiritual Computing?
Spiritual computing refers to technologies that further the spiritual
experiences of users. In this case, “spirituality” refers to cultivation of
compassion, wisdom, openness and other ethical qualities cultivated for
thousands of years by spiritual disciplines, which are both religious and
secular, theistic and non-theistic. Still an embryonic notion, Prof Smith
predicts that spiritual computing will emerge as a key design principle in
software fields such as computer search, home technologies, health care,.
education, computer games and in “social marketing” campaigns such as
efforts to stop cigarette smoking.
He claims that Spiritual Computing will also become a factor in religions,
as religious reformers use next-generation technologies to enhance ritual
observances and spiritual realizations of their members. “Spiritual
computing will have a disrupting effect on some organized religions, just
technology has revealed and disrupted corrupt practices in government,” he
Who is Craig Warren Smith?
Professor Smith, one of the founders of the worldwide movement to close the
Digital Divide, also is a longtime teacher of meditation in the Buddhist
tradition. In his role as Senior Advisor to the University of Washington’s
Human Interface Technology Laboratory, he is exploring a new paradigm in
which spirituality and technology could converge to produce innovative new
technologies that convey ethical principles. In Thailand, he is a Senior
Fellow at the Center for Ethics of Science and Technology at Chulalongkorn
University where he has collaborated with its director, Prof. Soraj
Hongladarom, on a lecture series regarding “Happiness, Public Policy and
What will the lecture consist of?
In the Bangkok lecture, he will report on his 2007 Spiritual Computing
world lecture tour of research labs of Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, IBM,
Electronic Arts and various universities such as Stanford and MIT. (See
SpiritualComputing.com) In these lectures he conveyed operational
definitions for spiritual experience and opened discussions on how spiritual
realization could add value to Microsoft’s concept of the “digital home of
the future,” Google Earth’s home page, and Electronic Arts’ genres of
computer games.
He will also introduce the idea that, as the digital economy spreads in
Asia, spiritual themes that are imbedded in Asia’s cultures will be
expressed in technology design – causing Asian cultures to turn away from
fantasies of Western materialistic lifestyles. He will suggest a theoretic
framework, measurement concepts, and criteria that technologies designers
can use to support the spread of ethical behavior in the general populous.
How can Spiritual Principles be Integrated into Next-Generation
According to Prof. Smith, in the Spiritual Computing framework, technology
designers must fit the following criteria

  • Satisfy the ethical concerns of governments and dominant religions,
    whether these are expressed explicitly (as in telecommunications regulation
    regarding children’s access to video games) or implicitly as in Syariah.
  • Draw insights from the field of Human Computer Interaction (HCI) which
    looks beyond “use of use” to more fundamental and ethical ways of affecting
    the behavior of users.
  • Gain measurement tools from neuroscience fields such as
    “neuroengineering,” and other cognitive sciences.
  • Become adaptable to the practical needs and economic realities faced
    by low income users.
  • Draw insight from the most robust spiritual and mindfulness traditions
    imbedded in Asian cultures.
  • Lesssen the “carbon footprint” of current technologies, so that they
    are environmentally appropriate.
  • Engender participatory engagement by users.

What could Spiritual Computing Mean for Thailand?

Following the presentation, participants will respond offering commentary
on the possible application of spiritual computing to Thailand, to Buddhist
practice, and other themes.

Soraj Hongladarom
Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts,
Chulalongkorn University
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel. +66(0)2218 4756; Fax +66(0)2218 4755
Center for Ethics of Science and Technology


About Cittasamvaro

Auto blogography of an urban monk
This entry was posted in All Posts, Upcoming events. Bookmark the permalink.