TORAH & SCIENCE
ABSOLUTE STANDARDS IN A WORLD OF RELATIVITY
Whether we realize it or not, Artificial Intelligence is all around us and plays an active role in our daily lives. Every time we use our Smart Phone, do a Google search, open our Facebook newsfeed, make a deposit, or get a product recommendation from Amazon, AI is lurking in the background.
The 14th International Conference on Torah and Science will explore this timely topic when it looks at “The Internet and the Torah: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Algorithms and Social Media, the Challenge and Promise” on Dec. 8-11, 2021. The biennial event is sponsored by CYS College of Jewish Studies and usually held at The Shul in Surfside, Florida. This year, due to Covid-19, it will be held virtually.
Addressing the science of the Internet, an IBM technology officer will explain how it affects us, on conscious as well as unconscious levels. Also explored will be “Big Data,” referring to large data sets that spawn algorithms to reveal patterns, trends, and associations in the data – which is why, when you browse a website for shoes, you suddenly see an influx of shoe ads on your Facebook home page – and social media, those websites and applications that enable us to create and share content or to participate in social networking.
What potential dangers does AI pose? A panel discussion by international medical and legal experts will explore AI’s neurological, psychological, and addictive sway, as well as its very real threat to personal privacy and the impact it has on civil societies worldwide. There will also be a look at what Judaic teachings and secular law convey about privacy.
Still, there is the promise AI offers by connecting us in meaningful and beneficial ways. A researcher at Stanford University’s Persuasive Technology Lab will discuss her scholarship and activism to use media to promote peace. One of the first religious organizations to embrace the Internet was Chabad, and participants will learn about the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s teachings about technology and its overall moral neutrality, emphasizing the possibility of and need for its use for positive goals.
Because the entire discussion is framed by Artificial Intelligence – the “beast” that drives the entire operation – participants will consider Jewish teachings about Intelligence. A professor from MIT and the President of CYS College with grapple with the questions: What is AI, what is Intelligence, and how do these two realms interact? In other words, is AI really intelligent?
For more information about the 14th International Conference on Torah and Science, contact Lydia Hasson at The Shul at 305-868-1411, ext. 311 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Further details can also be found at www.TorahScienceConference.org.
When the Lubavitcher Rebbe blessed Rabbi Sholom Dovber Lipskar and Professor Herman Branover for organizing the First Miami International Torah & Science Conference, he circled the word “relativity” in the conference subtitle. The Rebbe noted that Einstein’s research probed the nature of light. Just as the speed of physical light provides a measure of absoluteness to the physical world, the light of the Torah commandments, invoked by kindling the Chanukkah candles, signifies another level of absoluteness. Thus the First Miami Torah & Science Conference was held during Chanukkah of 1987 at the Sheraton Hotel of Bal Harbour. Its proceedings, entitled Fusion, were published in 1990 by Feldheim Publishers. The Second Miami Torah & Science Conference was held at the same venue on December 24-26, 1989. Click here for a full history of the conference.
Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar
Professor Nathan Katz
Rabbi Shea Rubinstein
Ms. Lydia Hasson