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to ai or not to ai?

03/16/2023 10:16:09 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I have a teleprompter app on my iPad that I use when I’m recording a speech. It is very easy to use, and I can place the iPad over my computer monitor, look at the green light of my camera, and record. It is a really useful app if you are called upon to record speeches, as frequently happens to me. I opened the app the other day and clicked the tab for “new script”, and a small window opened on my screen that offered two previously unknown choices: write new script, and, generate script with AI. “Really?” I thought to myself. So, dear reader, was I tempted? Is this an AI blog, or my personal creation? How would you know the difference?

For those unfamiliar with the initials, AI stands for “artificial intelligence”, and in this and many instances refers to giving basic parameters to a computer program, and then letting it compose the document for you. There have been many instances when AI work has been submitted as crafted by a human author. The more I thought about it, the more I wondered how different is this from plagiarism, or hiring someone to write your term paper for you, or buying a term paper, or even hiring speech writers? My thoughts turned to dystopian movies where AI has run awry, such as “Colossus: The Forbin Project”, “I, Robot”, and the Terminator series to name a few. The creations determined that they knew better than the creators what was best for humanity, with negative consequences abounding. In the nonfiction world, Gary Kasparov defeated Big Blue in their first chess match in 1996, but Big Blue won in 1997. 

How long would it be before AI in our homes determines our optimal sleep, diet, exercise and other choices? How long before AI makes decisions impacting relationships between countries? A very telling article that I read recently revealed that as Congress begins to struggle with the complex issues of technology, there being no laws governing AI for example, only one member of the House of Representatives is educated in the field to intelligently participate in deliberations and the potential crafting of laws. I was pleased to read in the same article that one member of Congress is taking classes in AI to be prepared to discuss the subject.

So what of this blog? I grew up in an era of paper and pencils. I still write the Purim shpiel on a legal pad with a pencil. This blog is being composed on a iPad, which I will then email to myself to store in my computer. Despite the challenge of composing minimally three documents per week - a blog, Friday evening remarks, and Torah study - I still enjoy the creative process, and cannot foresee wanting or needing to use AI.  I admit that I am curious to discover how such an endeavor might turn out, but it would lack soul and the satisfaction that I derive from creating a blog. It has been 5 1/2 years since I started this blog, the first one being my response to the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville, August 11-12, 2017.  By my calculation I have written approximately 285 blogs, although I will check for a more precise count. And all of them have been non-AI. 

Thu, March 30 2023 8 Nisan 5783