Is Wrong Speech ever Right?

Precepts are only precepts, and not absolute commandments. They are supposed to generate mindfulness and consciousness of your actions.

Speech is the most difficult to control actually, and everyone finds themselves falling short on this one. Are there times when it is ok to lie? If you lie to make others feel good (simple lies like ‘I like that shirt’) is that ok? Usually lies are designed to make life more convenient for the liar, not the recipient.

With the never ending ingenuity of humans to deceive, at least machines are straight forward – you know where you are with machines following set codes of action.

Until now – Robots, reports Gizmag, are now being taught to tell lies to us humans.

Lies that help robots on the battlefield (usual military justification claims combat technology is there to ‘save lives’). Lies that might help a robot control a panicking human.

The experiments involved ‘teaching’ a robot to hide from another robot using deception. Deceiving another robot was not considered immoral. Which is interesting as the research was funded by the Office of Naval Research.

This is not the first machine to lie of course – my computer lies to me all the time!

2 replies on “Is Wrong Speech ever Right?”

  1. But does it speak its lies in pleasing tones? :0) Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, in The Science of Being and Art of Living comments on Speaking Rightly and Speaking Harmoniously when he writes, …..

    …the art of speaking necessarily has its basis in the plane of Being.However, the basic considerations of the relative nature of the art of speaking involve the projected art of thinking; so all that is valid for the art of thinking is valid for the art of speech. Right speech has its basis in right thinking…… Speech is the expression of both the heart and mind together. Therefore for the speech to be right, it is necessary that the man be right in his heart and mind. ……. For speech to be harmonious, appropriate and suitable, thinking has to be clear, sharp, and, at the least, harmless – and, at the best, life-supporting to the whole environment. ….. Even if “no” is to be said at any point, the art of speech demands that it should be expressed in words that will not be apparently abusive or harsh. The art of speech lies in truthful speech; yet, at the same time, the truthful expression should not hurt anyone. …. Many people think truthfully by nature, and they believe that truthfulness lies in speaking out just what they think. It many be truthful speech, but it is also tactless and displeases the listener and results in a disharmony which mars the very purpose of speech. …… Even if you have to give a ruling against something, express it in decent words. This quality of kindness and delicacy of the heart develops when the heart begins to melt at the experience of bliss and great happiness of (meditation). The heart becomes softer and then, by nature, a man cannot be harsh or displeasing to anyone. Speech will naturally flow in all harmony.

    Well, on closer inspection, I guess this applies to only humans, so beware of your computer. Its divest of heart and mind.

  2. Maharishi always has something relevant to say 🙂
    There is a good point there too – being divest of heart and mind, in theory, the computer has no ‘intention’ and therefore no karma. It can lie away, without getting bad Karmic result. Or do they go to Silicon heaven/Hell?
    In Red DwarfBetter than Life , all machines are programmed to belive in Silicon heaven, to make sure that they behave themselves properly and don’t try to take over the world.
    More seriously, how about the programmer? If he/she makes a computer lie to you, to get your credit card number or sell you something fake, does their bad karma increase everytime someone clicks on the bad link? Does the universe only count the intention, and not the real world uptake?
    One of the latest scams is a worm that will harvest all your browsing/downloading habits, and post anything unsavoury up on a website. You pay 20$ to have it removed.
    Now the worrying thing is they could post up things that are not even true

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