September 23, 2023 ()

Artificial Intelligence and the Jewish Perspective

It’s been a well established fact that human beings are the smartest creatures on earth – so smart, in fact, that they have now created an apparatus that’s just as smart as themselves. Computers that emit artificial intelligence (AI) have been in the works for a few years now, but they have gotten really refined in recent months, prompting concern from technological experts. AI bots are superintelligent and capable of writing in a highly convincing manner. Because of that, there’s no telling just how far-reaching their influence will be. We see this already with the manipulative influence of web search and advertising directed to your preferences. It is now very plausible that AI technology will come to manipulate public opinion in a way that’s all-consuming, to the extent that it will control human behavior through its words. In the recent past, AI’s show absorbed bias, based on suggesting feelings e.g. connoted preferences for specific political candidates that entirely usurp the efforts of human beings. How long before these effects of AI become malignant and – disruptive rather than assistive? With the rate that AI is developing, it may soon morph into a force that determines the future of the digital world, not to mention our national security and society as we know it.

For this reason, many professionals who are deeply immersed in the field believe that we should be cautious in regards to AI and ensure that there is continual government oversight of the concept. Tech titan Elon Musk is a strong advocate of AI regulation, prizing safety over all else in the effort to advance forward. Only if we monitor the consequences of AI, take continuous stock of just how influential it is in altering human behaviors, do we have any hope of channeling AI’s benefits. AI has the potential to be productive or destructive. Diligence is required in keeping it in check.

AI has only come about because we’ve become such an affluent society, accumulating wealth which can be a wonderful force for good, but it also can very quickly distort, disrupt, and denigrate the people under its sway. Access to bountiful opportunity has given Americans the ability to become technologically sophisticated and efficient. However, with this ease comes greed, complacency, and a lack of empathy. Affluent people are so accustomed to luxury and achieving their own ends that they become detached from the needs of others. This is precisely the sort of social slide that Judaism warns against.

Judaism is all for enjoying the fruits of this world but we strongly discourage chasing after the newest technological fads just to keep up with the Jones’. On the contrary, Jews are encouraged by their religion to remain grounded, centered, and beholden to a divine power which is more ethereal and benevolent than any accommodating computer. Because of AI, we are currently on the verge of a national crisis, but those adhering to Jewish principles know how to reign themselves in, distance themselves from a construct while only using AI for its benefits in moderation.

Let’s get on board with those pushing for the making of a security system that would protect and defend our foreseeable future. We must be frank with ourselves and acknowledge that AI, unchecked, could be dangerous. Civilians concerned with how it can help them may very well forget to help others. Let’s guard the fiber of our moral character and remember that there is much that the Creator enabled us to do for ourselves. Judaism wants us to use these gifts and employ our creativity, rather than leaving it all for a computer with AI to execute on our behalf. Under those parameters, just how genuine is our accomplishment? How far have we really advanced? How much of ourselves have we truly imprinted upon this world? Not very much – only as far as our voice can carry in instructing this computer to display its capabilities.

The question remains, what about our capabilities? What about our potential for growth and greatness? If we let AI continue to chart our future course, we will never truly discover just how much we have within ourselves to give.