Elliott is Prizmah's Director of Thought Leadership. Learn more about him here.

Questions About AI (Artificial Intelligence)

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Recently, I had the golden opportunity to take a plunge into the world of AI (Artificial Intelligence) at the JEP’s Jewish Futures Conference, whose theme was “Jewish Education and AI.” Until then, I had the luxury of ignoring this latest trend, and I admit, as a humanities major and a proud luddite, I am usually the last person in my family to show any interest in contemporary tech: cellphones, social media, Alexa, you name it. However, this avoidance came with a certain guilt. I read article after article with a shiver of dread, knowing that if I don’t learn about AI, AI will learn everything about me. Like it or not, we live in an AI world, and it’s good to know something about how it works.

A first exposure to modern AI is both exhilarating and uncanny. The power of these platforms is enormous and awe-inspiring. We watched ChatGPT write genuinely creative short stories with minimal cues, and compose an impressive sonnet on any subject given; an AI image generator create multiple pictures based on instructions (“boy chasing dog in Renaissance painting”); a voice generator inputting words into the mouths of famous people (super creepy), and more. On character.ai, I held a lengthy conversation with “Socrates” that was, frankly, entirely lifelike and believable–except that it writes back too quickly and has far more knowledge at its “fingertips” than us humans. It even picked up my dry humor, which my family and friends often don’t get!

The presenters helped us process what we were experiencing, and although they assured us that computers will never be able to do what people do, it does feel like the line between the two has become dangerously blurred. We’ve seen the powers of social media for mass manipulation and spreading propaganda; the powers of AI seem infinitely greater, existentially so. Indeed, a letter signed by more than 50,000 so far, including leaders in Silicon Valley, calls for a pause in AI development until some safe guidelines are put in place. In a recent blog, consultant Sarah Rubinson asks some probing questions about education in this brave new world. In this Pesach season, it’s appropriate that we search for the right questions with which to approach this powerful technology.

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Passover 2023

Speaking of Pesach, today’s JTA has a thoughtful piece about the relationship between machine-made matzah and AI. Just in time, two new Haggadahs offer AI-programmed commentary:  Haggad.AI and Haggadot.com's Chat GPT Haggadah Supplement. And the Mayberg Foundation has created two new chatbots for the holiday. Chag kasher ve-sameach!