ABSTRACTS & BIOS
Wednesday, December, 8
Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence - A Dialogue
Professor Joseph Jacobson (MIT)
Artificial Intelligence and The Structure of the Written and Oral (Torah) Law
Artificial Intelligence is the framework for conferring capabilities, reminiscent of human-like intelligence, to computers. A sub-area of AI called machine learning (ML) is a mathematical framework for associating sets of things, such as a set of pictures of animals to a set of names of animals. In general there are two steps to machine learning. The first step, called training, consists of creating a set of correlated pairs of items from each set (a picture of an animal and its name, a picture of another animal and its name and so on) and running that through a computational procedure to generate a rule for correlating the sets of things (animals to their names). The second step called inference is a computational procedure for applying the rule to a new piece of data (a new picture of an animal) which predicts a corresponding label for that data (the name of that animal). Machine learning can also be used in the 'reverse', to, for instance, generate a picture of an animal when given the name of an animal. In this talk we plan to give a brief overview of how machine learning works along with some examples of what machine learning can do. Finally we draw a deep analogy between the framework of machine learning and the structure of The Written and Oral (Torah) Law.
Dr. Joseph Jacobson is Associate Professor at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where he leads the MIT Media Lab's Molecular Machines Group and is a founding member of the Center for Bits and Atoms. His lab at MIT has co-pioneered developments in Genomically Re-Coded Organisms (The first forms of life which run a different genetic code) and Next Generation (chip based) Gene Synthesis for a range of applications including programming cells to produce new pharmaceuticals, renewable chemicals, fuels and food. His lab is currently focused on the application of machine learning, AI to design small molecule and protein therapeutics. In the private sector Jacobson was a co-founder of E Ink Corporation, Gen9 (now part of Gingko Bioworks) and DeepCure and was a founding director of the non-profit foundation, One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), which designs and builds laptops for education for kids around the globe. He was educated at Brown University (B.S.), MIT (Ph.D. Physics) and Stanford (Post-Doctoral Fellow).
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar (CYS College)
What is Intelligence?
What is real intelligence? What are its origins, method of operation and objective? The fundamental separation between human intelligence, animal intelligence and artificial intelligence.
Rabbi Sholom Dovber Lipskar was ordained at the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva in Brooklyn in 1968, pursued advance studies at the Chabad Lubavitch Graduate School of Theology and Applied Rabbinics and at the Kollel Avreichim – Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Graduate School. He was appointed a Shliach (Emissary) by the world leader of Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, in 1969. Assigned to the Landow Yeshiva Center in Miami Beach, where he founded Yeshiva Gedolah Rabbinical College and served as Principal and Dean of elementary, secondary and high school studies.
In 1981 he founded The Shul, where he continues to serve as Head Rabbi and founded the Aleph Institute, a national Jewish education and humanitarian organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the incarcerated and the military and their families being the official endorser of chaplains for the Department of Defense; and the Educational Academy for the Elderly, where he is responsible for the development of pilot programs which restructure the educational priorities of elderly citizens. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University.
Rabbi Lipskar served on the Miami Beach Commission of Housing in 1981. He is the chief organizer of the premier biannual International Torah and Science Conference since 1987.
In 2004, he founded the Chaim Yakov Shlomo College of Jewish Studies offering Bachelors and Masters degrees in Hebrew Letters, and Rabbinical Ordination, attracting students from across the globe.
In 2009, The Shul was recognized as one of America’s 25 most vibrant congregations by Newsweek magazine and in 2013 Rabbi Lipskar was listed as one of the “Jewish 100” by The Algemeiner.
Thursday Afternoon, December 9
How It All Works: The Internet, Big Data, Algorithms, Social Media
DE Sam S. Lightstone
AI and Big Data: State of the art today and challenges for Jewish life tomorrow
In this session Sam Lightstone will showcase the current state of the art for Big Data and AI, and the far-reaching advances already achieved in natural language processing, medical diagnostics, finance, simulation, automation, and art. We are literally living through a transformational moment in history where these technologies are redefining human life. Sam will discuss the challenges to Jewish life that are likely to emerge around family economics, Sabbath observance, Torah scholarship, Halacha, religious engagement and Jewish continuity.
From 2020-2021 Sam Lightstone was IBM Chief Technology Officer for AI. From 2017-2020 Sam was the IBM Chief Technology Officer for Data focusing on IBM’s database and big data portfolio. He is cofounder of the IEEE Workgroup on Self-Managing Database Systems. Sam has more than 65 patents issued and pending and has authored 4 books and over 30 papers. Sam’s books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. In his spare time, he is an avid guitar player and fencer. His Twitter handle is "samlightstone".
Professor Henry Abramson (Touro)
Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Wisdom: Postmodernism and the Digital Age
Were it confined to the academy, the corrosive philosophy known as Postmodernism would have little impact on the daily lives of most Americans today. With the rapidly accelerating digital revolution, however, the real-life translations of Postmodernist fantasies are increasingly dominating our everyday discourse, from politics to culture, careening away from assumptions that were widely accepted to be as authoritative as the law of gravity and taking us far into uncharted spaces where we, as a species, have never gone. On a technological level, we are confronted with a landscape of endless possibility, figuring out how to effect some major, life-altering change before we know why we should do it—or more importantly, before we know why we should not do it.
Nothing is more stark than the gap that has opened up between intelligence on the one hand, and wisdom on the other. The former used to be associated with the capability of amassing a large body of information and retrieving it as well. Speed was also of value: we used terms like “swift” or “quick-witted” to describe such people. In many ways, this function of the human mind, valued for millennia, has been replaced by computers. Although artificial, they are certainly intelligent in this limited sense, and far more so than people.
On the other hand, wisdom has never been associated with speed. On the contrary: the wise person deliberates, meditates, and responds after only exhausting not only the information that is available, but the information that might be derived from intuitive analysis. Wisdom is more about the weeding out of extraneous information than the hoarding of irrelevant data. And unlike intelligence, wisdom is becoming rarer and rarer in our times.
This lecture will discuss the implications that digital technologies such as artificial intelligence have for our postmodern society.
Henry Abramson serves as a Dean of Touro College in Brooklyn, New York. A native of northern Ontario, Canada, he earned his PhD in History from the University of Toronto for a dissertation on the Jews of Ukraine in the early 20th century, later published by Harvard. He is the author of several books on Jewish History and Thought, and his online lectures at henryabramson.com have been viewed over five million times. He is the content creator of the Jewish History in Daf Yomi podcast for the All Daf app of the Orthodox Union, a seven-year project producing short videos on the history of each page of the Babylonian Talmud. He is currently working on a three-volume history of the Jewish people for Koren Publishers in Jerusalem.
Franklin Zemel, Esq. (Cyberprivacy Attorney)
The Links Between OSINT (Open Source Intelligence) and Ransomware
The Information We Give Away to Strangers – For Free
Today’s lexicon is peppered with new words such as “phishing,” “vishing,” “spear phishing” and even “whaling.” While there are differences between these, they all amount to the same thing – the use of our personal information by threat actors to trick us into clicking, downloading or installing malicious code. Once infected, our computers, systems and devices become compromised in a mind-numbing ways – none of them good for us.
For all of the technological defensive mechanisms we can put into place, by far and without question, the single greatest risk-factor is - - us! Yes, we are the greatest threat to ourselves because threat actors need our help to infiltrate our own computers, systems and devices.
How do we help threat actors? By giving them our own personal information -- for free.
The term “OSINT” refers to “Open Source Intelligence” which means all the free information about YOU which you’ve happily and willingly made available to strangers and threat actors alike, such as: Your name, your maiden name, your place of birth, date of birth, and marital status. The names of your family members, including elderly parents and young children, as well as all of their respective dates of birth, places of birth etc. We tell strangers where we work, when we work, who we work with, as well as our work email addresses, phone numbers, and extensions. We also announce the locations of our favorite restaurants, our gym, our children’s school, our hobbies and more.
From all of this personal information, threat actors create fake links for us to click on, or they easily guess our passwords, or trick us into giving up other crucial information which inevitably leads to the corruption or theft of our information, accounts, and worse.
Franklin Zemel graduated from the University of Miami School of Law in 1989 and is a Member of both the Florida Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court Bars. He is a partner in the AmLaw 200 national firm, Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP. He is a Certified Information Privacy Professional and his practice includes Privacy and Cybersecurity Law, Religious Land Use and First Amendment law, Complex Business Litigation and Appellate Law.
He is a past Member of the Board of Jewish Federation of Broward County and the Posnack JCC and is Member of the B’nai Brith Justice Unit and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce and co-chairs the Technology Committee.
He has been repeatedly voted as “Top Lawyer” by the South Florida Legal Guide and holds the highest ratings for professionalism and ethics as rated by Martindale Hubbel.
Franklin is frequently cited in the media, is an author of many published articles and lectures on Privacy and Cybersecurity and Professional Ethics.
Franklin has been married to Karen Zemel for more than 30 years and they have a daughter and son in law, Kacie and Matthew and a son and daughter in law to be, Quinn and Chelsea.
Rabbi Dov Schochet (CYS College)
Privacy through the Prism of Torah
Our personal information has become big business. What we look at, where we shop and our tendencies. Who owns that information about ourselves? What can the Torah teach us in navigating these thorny, difficult questions?
There are two main avenues to explore how a canon of law that is millenia old and codified in the Talmud over a thousand years ago can relate to digital information.
Ownership: much of what we take for granted today, and in fact the foundation of much of the American economy, namely intellectual property, is questionable in the Halachic system. The idea of intellectual property is nothing new. As long as there were books, they had authors but ownership of words and ideas we create isn’t recognized by Halacha. Ownership requires something tangible, so this would undercut the basic argument for laws regarding our digital footprint. If we don’t own it, can we control it? But in the Torah system ownership might not be required to enforce restrictions.
Privacy: from the inception of the Jewish nation, privacy was recognized as a critical value. One of the great blessings we received from the prophet Balaam, recited daily in our prayers, relates to this value. Privacy was not only recognized as valuable, but became an enforceable right, a right against visual intrusion. Can this be the source for data legislation? Is the law limited to tangible objects or can it be extended to our digital cookies?
Dov Schochet is a Rabbi and teacher at The Shul, and Rosh Yeshiva of the Chaim Yacov Shlomo College of Jewish Studies. He gives weekly classes on a wide variety of topics including Talmud, Ethics of our Fathers, the Prophets, Chumash textual analysis etc. Along with seasonal courses covering the breadth of Jewish life. Rabbi Schochet was born in Miami and currently resides in Surfside with his wife Kayla and their two daughters Musya and Shayna. Prior to coming to The Shul, he served as an instructor in Yeshiva Tifferet Bachurim in Morristown, NJ and ran a learning summer program for teens in Parkland FL. He received his Rabbinic ordination from Kollel Tiferet Menachem in Pacific Palisades, California. He then received Dayanut from Rabbi Moshe Gutnick of Sydney Australia while studying in Brooklyn, NY.
After getting married, he lived in Jerusalem for three years while studying in the old city in the Tzemach Tzedek Shul. While there, Rabbi Schochet received his license from the State of Israel to be a Rabbinic Lawyer, authorizing him to argue cases in front of the Israeli Rabbinic courts. He also began personal training with Rabbis in both Jerusalem and Monsey, NY for practical knowledge in family purity laws. His objective is to elevate the level of Torah knowledge in the community. By fostering in depth study and an appreciation for our rich academic history, his goal is to bring real awareness and understanding to our beautiful Torah, its laws, our festivals and Jewish thought.
Thursday Night, December 9
Rabbi Prof. Avraham Steinberg, MD (Shaare Zedek)
The New Media and Neurological Impact
In my presentation I shall define the term "new media" and discuss the following:
The general Jewish attitude toward the new media.
The pros and cons of the new media.
The negative impact on the brain of inappropriate use of the new media.
Some neurological consequences and their etiologies.
Rabbi Prof. Avraham Steinberg, MD - A Short Bio
Associate Clinical Professor of Medical Ethics, Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, Jerusalem
Author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Medical Ethics – 7 volumes in Hebrew (2 editions) and 3 volumes in English (translation by Dr. Fred Rosner)
Author of Ha'Refuah Ka'Halakha – 6 volumes in Hebrew.
Director, Medical Ethics Unit, Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
Chairman, Institutional Review Board (IRB – 'Helsinky Committee'), Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem
Director, Yad Harav Herzog Institutions & Head of Editorial Board, The Talmudic Encycloepdia & Editor-in-Chief, The Talmudic Micropedia
Chairman, National Committee for Inspection on Mohalim, The Chief Rabbinate of Israel & The ministry of Health
Chairman, National Committee in accordance with the Dying Patient Act – 2005
Member of various Israeli national committees and councils concerning issues in medical ethics and in medicine and law:
Summary of Publications and Presentations:
• Books and public reports (author, editor) – 46 (in 73 volumes)
• Articles and Chapters in scientific journals and books – 310
• Tutor for doctoral theses – 12
• Presentations in national and international conferences and symposia – 280
• Over 4500 expert witness opinions in court cases in pediatric neurology and medical ethics
Summary of Prizes and Awards:
• ISRAEL PRIZE, 1999
• Gerta Schwartz Prize, The Hebrew University-Hadassah Medical School, 1975
• Abramowitz-Zeitlin Prize, 1976
• Rabbi Kook Prize, The Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, 1990
• Katz Prize, Kneset, 1990
• The Annual Prize of the Department for Medicine and Halakhah, The Religious Council of Jerusalem, 1991
• Einhorn Prize, The Municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa, 1995
• The Minister of Health Prize, 2019
• Honorary Doctorate, Bar-Ilan University, 2008
• Worthy Citizen of Jerusalem (Yakir Yerushalayim), 2020
Dr. Norman Goldwasser (Horizons)
Trauma, Addiction, and Cyberbullying: The Perils of Social Media
This presentation will be focusing on both the helpful aspects of social media, as well as the many difficult challenges that people who use this medium face in their lives. An overview of the various ways that social media negatively impacts people will be followed by discussions specifically addressing how social media affects self-esteem, anxiety, OCD, and depression, especially amongst teenagers and pre-teens. Special emphasis will be placed on the criteria of addiction, and how social media use fits the description of an addiction. Finally, cyber bullying will also be addressed, as well as ways that parents and individuals can more effectively deal with this very pernicious challenge.
Dr. Norman Goldwasser is a Licensed Psychologist based in Miami Beach and Boca Raton, Florida. Originally from Newport News, Virginia, he went to high school and Yeshiva in Talmudical Academy and Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Maryland, and then went on to earn degrees in Psychology and Health Science from Johns Hopkins University. He completed his graduate training at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond, where he received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and a Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.
Dr. Goldwasser has been the Director of Horizon Psychological Services for the past 21 years, where he has led an interdisciplinary team of mental health professionals who work collaboratively to meet the increasingly complex needs of our community. He is a nationally renowned speaker who has inspired dozens of communities across North America dealing with a wide range of topics, and has been a popular speaker at a number of different conferences over the years. His areas of expertise include trauma, addictions, sexual orientation confusion, marital conflict, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, depression, and Adult Attention Deficit Disorder. Dr. Goldwasser is also the Director of Victim Services or Jewish Community Watch, an organization whose mission is to stop child sexual abuse, and to provide support and treatment for victims. He also has been an experienced practitioner and consultant in EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, a dramatic treatment for trauma, that literally transforms the lives of victim of traumas.
Dr. Goldwasser lives in Miami Beach, where he has been active in Jewish outreach, both at the campus and family levels. He has eight children, six of whom are married, and is the very proud of grandfather of 20 grandchildren.
Rabbi Pinchas Taylor (Chabad-Plantation)
The Internet's Impact on our Dreams
One of the most curious topics pondered since time immemorial and across all culture lines is the nature, purpose, and interpretation of dreams. The average person spends twenty-five years of his life sleeping, six years of which are spent dreaming. The meanings of dreams have been explored since time immemorial. They have been examined philosophically, psychologically, neurologically, and spiritually by many faith traditions. They have creative value, precognitive possibilities, and can even shed light on areas of needed self-development. Dreams can on rare occasions be a conduit to channeling the spiritual worlds or serve as a means of reprocessing mundane events of the day. The internet and modern technology have bombarded us with constant stimuli in a way unfathomable by previous generations. The mundane events of our day are no longer confined to people and situations that we have physically interacted with, but instead, are also open to the numerous articles, pictures, and videos that we have been bombarded with throughout the day. This discussion seeks to explore an overview of secular discussion on dreams, and the spectrum of how dreams have been discussed throughout Torah literature. Through grasping the foundations of dream significance, it will become evident the outcomes that the internet and social media age has had on the quality of our dreams.
Rabbi Pinchas Taylor is a south Florida native and a graduate of the Rabbinical College of America. He has initiated outreach projects in Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, and overseas in Russia and Greece. Currently, Rabbi Taylor is the Director of Adult Education and Outreach at the Chabad of Plantation and has an online following in the tens of the thousands. In addition, Rabbi Taylor is a best-selling author and lecturer, and has spoken across the globe in a wide variety of venues. He hosts a weekly session for locals in addiction recovery, serves as a hospice chaplain for Broward County, and teaches Jewish Thought at the Chaya Aydel Seminary. In addition, Rabbi Taylor has been called the “Celebrity Life Coach” for his work with actors, athletes, and other public figures and runs a spiritual coaching program with over 400 hundred active members. Rabbi Taylor is a certified cognitive behavioral therapy practitioner, a certified clinical trauma specialist, and a member of the American Counseling Association and the Association for Conflict Resolution.
Shabbos Day, Saturday, December 11
Scholar in Residence: Rabbi Prof. Abraham Steinberg
Motzei Shabbos, Saturday Night, December 11
Dr. Margarita Quihuis (Stanford Persuasion Inst.)
Worshipping the God of Technology: How technology alone is not sufficient to create a safe and just world
Silicon Valley is full of bright young entrepreneurs whose mission is often to change the world for the better. However, over the last 15 years we’ve seen how promising technologies that were intended to bring the world closer together have been used to create division and polarization. In this talk Margarita looks at why technology has failed to deliver on its promise and how keepers of ancient wisdom and indigenous knowledge of the world need to guide us on how to be good ancestors so we can develop the necessary innovation and planning to create a positive, abundant future for people we will never meet.
Margarita Quihuis is the CEO of PeaceX Ventures, the first venture studio dedicated to building ESG-native companies from the ground up.
She is the Executive Director of the Peace Innovation Lab (PIL) at Stanford and the Peace Innovation Institute at The Hague.
She launched Astia, the first technology incubator for women entrepreneurs, and raised $67M in venture funding within 18 months.
As a public speaker on entrepreneurship and social behavior, she has addressed many corporations and institutions on ESG, ethical business, and innovation.
Margarita divides her time between academia and corporate engagements. As a research team member at BJ Fogg’s Behaviour Design Lab, she combines behavioral change, persuasive tech, and finance for real-world impact.
At PIL, she researches innovation, mass collaboration, and social technology to reform society. The focal points of her work have included the application of persuasive technology for government innovation, humanitarian relief, and citizen diplomacy.
• Named “One of the 100 Most Influential Latinos in Silicon Valley” by Latino Leaders Magazine
• Named Manor Labs: “Bright Idea” Innovator by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance at Harvard University
• Named one of Women’s eNews’ “21 Leaders for the 21st Century”
Margarita has also been an entrepreneurship consultant to the US State Department.
She has been widely quoted in the Asian Venture Capital Report, NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, US News & World Report, Forbes ASAP, CNN, and CBS MarketWatch.
Rabbi Motti Seligson (Chabad.org)
Using Technology for its Higher Purpose
Abstract to follow
Rabbi Motti Seligson is the associate director of Chabad.org, one of the largest and earliest faith-based websites, with a reach of 54 million unique-visitors. He serves as director of media relations for Chabad-Lubavitch and is often the media's go-to resource for everything Jewish. Rabbi Seligson has served as a rabbinical student and later as a rabbi in dozens of Jewish communities in states across the U.S. and in countries across Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe. He received a degree in religious studies from the Rabbinical College of America and was ordained as a rabbi at the Rabbinical College of Sydney, Australia and lives in New York City.
Dr. Menachem Feuer (Adaleg IT)
Judaism in a Digital World: Philosophical, Mystical, and Practical Approaches to the Future of Tech in the Jewish Community
In 2014, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen – executives at Google – wrote several prophesies about the future of tech in their bestselling book The New Digital Age: Transforming Nations, Businesses, and our Lives. Looking back from 2021, we see that most of their prophesies are coming true. The meaning of these truths, however, is mixed. For instance, they predicted that since there would be a proliferation of news sources on social media, there would be a clash over which news sources one can trust. It also predicted political upheavals and interventions that would occur as a result of the proliferation of social media, leaks, footage, etc. Both of these results have troubling aspects, such as the rise of anti-Semitism via social media and violent acts against Jews, the demonization of Israel, and so forth. In this talk, I will explore philosophical and mystical approaches to technology from Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Levinas, and the Lubavitcher Rebbe and apply them to the current issues we are facing in the Jewish Community and its future vis-à-vis tech. The talk will insist on the advancement of tech and the development of digital literacy in the Jewish Community. It is essential if we are to take part in and benefit from the transformation of the world that is underway right now, a transformation that can be for the good. Despite all of the negativity we see on a daily basis on social media and in the world, there is good it has done and the potential for even greater good is high.
Dr. Menachem Feuer is the Co-Founder of Adaleg IT (www.adalegit.com), a company that is dedicated to training and educating members of the Jewish Community in the USA, Canada, and Brazil in Full Stack Development, Python Programming, Data Science and Machine Learning, and AWS Cloud computing. He runs programs in Jewish Schools in the USA and Canada and is a major force in the promotion of digital literacy in the Jewish Community. In the last four years, Adaleg IT and their Coding for Kids program in Jewish schools have educated over 800 children and adults of the Jewish community in coding, etc and helped over half of their adult graduates find jobs in the tech sector. Feuer is also a member of the Jewish Studies Faculty at the University of Waterloo. He was previously a member of the Center for Jewish Studies at York University. Feuer has written over twenty-five articles, essays, and book reviews on philosophy, postmodern literature, and post-Holocaust philosophy and literature. He has published in Shofar, Modern Fiction Studies, MELUS, International Studies in Philosophy and the Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy, and in numerous book collections. His work has been cited in over 100 essays and book collections. He is the author of the highly acclaimed blog, Schlemiel Theory (www.schlemielintheory.com), which has over 6500 followers.