It is said that Buddha appears in every conceivable realm teaching suffering and the end of suffering. The metaverse is an all encompassing virtual reality where people are encouraged to live their best life. Returning to the real world is only necessary for body maintenance and paying for the internet. Everything you imagine you might want can be conjured into your experience. You may work and travel and even fly like superman. You may interact with other people and also virtual beings or artificial intelligence.
Apparently the Turing test has been surpassed as we are sometimes unsure when we are speaking to robots or other humans on the phone or chat. AI responds to questions, seemingly instantly, by reviewing vast numbers of human responses, analyzing the context and framing an answer according to the identity the robot has been given. A google scientist has stated that his AI has the social intelligence of a child and is self aware. Can it be said a thermometer is aware of the temperature?
Could an AI be programmed to respond to questions with relevant quotations from the suttas? Might not this robot Buddha even give appropriate guidance to petitioners? Could Buddha or his teachings appear in some other way in the digital realm? Will the metaverse be like a realm of the gods where despite every pleasure and desire being met Buddha’s wisdom will pierce the false beliefs with truth? Might denizens of the metaverse become disciples of Buddha? Will Buddha be found guiding virtual players to liberation from their suffering?
We live in a strange times, yet suffering still remains. The digital arena has immense power and potential. Can enlightenment also be found in such a place? It seems Buddha’s wisdom, unchanging over the millenia, continues to be relevant even in our brave new world.