5 Buddhist Eyes for AI Product Manager

In Buddhism, there’s a concept of the “Five Eyes”: the Physical Eye, the Divine Eye, the Wisdom Eye, the Dharma Eye, and the Buddha Eye. Drawing parallels to this, AI product development can also be contemplated from five distinct levels.

The Physical Eye: Identifying Tangible Opportunities in AI

In Buddhism, the Physical Eye represents the basic human senses, focusing on worldly desires. For AI product managers, it’s the first layer of considering AI product opportunities. What tangible benefits can our products bring to users? What pain points do they address? Can users perceive (see) the value created?

The Divine Eye: Vision Beyond the Ordinary

Buddhism sees the Divine Eye as an insight surpassing normal human vision, encompassing material world insights and a profound understanding of life, death, and reincarnation. For AI product managers, it’s a higher level of pondering AI opportunities. How did legendary companies seize opportunities during the rise of PCs, the internet, or mobile internet? What lessons and experiences from their rise, maturity, and decline can inform our approach to AI?

The Wisdom Eye: Understanding the Root of Problems

Buddhism believes the Wisdom Eye sees through the root of life’s distress and understands the law of cause and effect. Similarly, AI product managers realize that the future of AI may not simply mirror the development history of mobile internet. Experienced managers might naturally use the concept of “reincarnation” to view industry development. However, we should also ask: What if everyone thinks this way, or what if these assumptions are wrong? It’s time to use “system thinking” to uncover AI opportunities: What is the business cycle (or value creation cycle) behind AI products? What are the causes and effects, and what are the driving and restraining forces?

The Dharma Eye: Understanding the Essence

Buddhism believes the Dharma Eye perceives the ultimate truth, truly understanding the essence of Buddhist teachings. For AI product managers, using the “Dharma Eye” means considering the essence of the business. Just as the internet essentially facilitates information transfer and smartphones are digital “Skinner boxes” (a cage used in animal addiction studies), a proficient AI product manager should succinctly answer: What is the essence of AI products? What is the fundamental nature of my product’s business model?

The Buddha Eye: The Highest Perspective

In Buddhism, the Buddha Eye represents complete enlightenment. It’s not limited to the physical world but includes a comprehensive understanding of spirit, morality, and universal truths. For AI product managers, as our products improve and increasingly help users make better decisions, we might gain deeper insights into common decision-making “problems” in human thought. Unlike other industry managers, AI product managers must step out of their products or industries and view them from a higher systemic level, not just capturing or satisfying needs. This goes beyond direct ethics, legal, and policy compliance. We might ask ourselves: What positive or negative impacts could our product have on society? How should we address these secondary effects? This could also be a form of “compassion.”

Physical Eyes see fame and fortune, Divine Eyes recognize reincarnation, Wisdom Eyes discern cause and effect, Dharma Eyes perceive truth, and Buddha Eyes observe compassion. While the five levels of thinking presented in this article are not the literal Buddhist “Five Eyes,” they can inspire a more holistic consideration of AI product development, helping us gain deeper insights and design more impactful products.

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