The Center for the Study of Apparent Selves (CSAS) is an international research institute located in Kathmandu, Nepal, that serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research and teaching across the world.
CSAS began work as an interdisciplinary translation effort, focusing on the development of interfaces between Buddhism and AI. In seeking to span the apparent gulfs between contemporary scientific frameworks of machine intelligence and one of humanity’s ancient spiritual traditions, the benefits of relying on recent discoveries and explanatory frameworks from developmental and evolutionary biology gradually became apparent. Such bridges of biology allowed for the formulation of the SCI-loop, which arguably applies equally to the implementations of algorithms and the dynamics of the human spirit.
Through collaborative research, grant awarding, teaching, outreach and public engagement, CSAS brings together projects, institutions, and individuals. The projects that we lead or participate in can be seen to converge in a vision of humans as interconnected, transformative, and dynamic beings—profoundly capable of care. Inspired and informed by this emergent vision, CSAS seeks to cultivate understanding of, and means for, human flourishing that are applicable to a broad range of societal and environmental contexts—health, education, peacebuilding, caring for the biosystem, etc.
We work to develop, study, and test models of intelligence that are ethically and aesthetically fulfilling and can be applied across a broad range of current and emerging substrates.
As a research network with global participation and a physical presence in Kathmandu, Nepal, CSAS is also inspired by the Himalayas—a region that since ancient times has been a fountainhead of spiritual and philosophical traditions, many of which are still studied and practiced to this day. Yet this region is also extremely vulnerable to global warming and environmental degradation (often leading to scarcity of resources and communal conflict) as well as geopolitical clashes of interest that impact billions in South and East Asia, and so also the world at large. In this way, our immediate environment abounds with rich resources for human flourishing, just as it presents powerful challenges. Our aim is then to learn from and respond to our environment—with scientific rigor and spiritual depth.