Nov 29, 2021
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Billionaire innovator Elon Musk announced at Tesla’s Artificial Intelligence day event last Thursday that his company will produce a Tesla Bot” humanoid robot prototype code-named Optimus next year. 

Rabbi Michael Laitman, a leading expert in Kabbalah and the founder of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah association, believes that technology and more specifically artificial intelligence, will play a major role in the end-of-days but not necessarily a positive one.

Decidedly human-like

The bipedal robot will stand five feet eight inches tall, weigh in at 125 pounds,  be able to lift 150 pounds and carry 45 pounds, and move as fast as 5 miles per hour. The initial models will feature five fingers on each hand but Musk allowed that this might change. The robot will have a screen positioned where a human face would be to display “useful information,” Musk said.

The humanoid design makes sense to the developer.

“It’s intended to be friendly, to navigate through a world built for humans,” Musk said. “Can you talk to it and say, ‘please pick up that bolt and attach it to a car with that wrench,’ and it should be able to do that. ‘Please go to the store and get me the following groceries.’ That kind of thing. I think we can do that.”

It is designed to be general-purpose, replacing humans at tasks that are repetitive or dangerous. 

Robots bringing on socialism

Musk suggested that the robot will have a “profound” impact on the economy, rendering physical labor optional. The robot would replace humans in many low-paying and menial jobs. 

“This, I think, will be quite profound,” he said. “Essentially, in the future, physical work will be a choice. If you want to do it, you can, but you won’t need to do it.

To offset this, Musk stated that universal basic income, a left-wing socialist ideal, would be necessary. 

“This I think will be quite profound, because what is the economy—at the foundation?” Musk asked. “it is labor. So, what happens when there is no shortage of labor? This is why I think long term there will need to be universal basic income. But not right now, because this robot doesn’t work.”

But this drastic change will take time.

“But not right now because this robot doesn’t work,” Musk noted

Autonomous AI closer than you think

The robot is a natural extension of Tesla’s goal of manufacturing self-driving cars as the artificial intelligence required for autonomous transport is similar to that required for autonomous robots.

“Our cars are semi-sentient robots on wheels,” Musk claimed. “With the full self-driving computer, essentially the inference engine on the car (which we’ll keep evolving, obviously) and Dojo, and all the neural nets recognizing the world, understanding how to navigate through the world, it kind of makes sense to put that onto a humanoid form.”

The Tesla factory and utilizes a large number of manufacturing robots.

AI as the “biggest threat to humanity”

Musk has previously described the possibility of artificial intelligence as the single biggest threat to the existence of humanity. While acknowledging the possible threat, Musk reassured the audience that the robot will be safe. 

“We hope this does not feature in a dystopian sci-fi movie,” Musk said. “We should be worried about AI,” Musk said during a question and answer session after the presentation. “What we’re trying to do here at Tesla is make useful AI that people love and is … unequivocally good.”

Musk emphasized that his robot will be weaker and slower than the average human.

The announcement comes in the same week that U.S. safety regulators opened an investigation into Tesla’s driver assistant system because of accidents in which Tesla cars crashed into stationary police cars and fire trucks.

Two U.S. senators have also called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla’s claims for its “Full Self-Driving” system.

Critics also point to several Musk projects and predictions that turned out to be unrealistically optimistic, like a solar-powered Supercharger network, battery swapping, robotic snake-style chargers. At the same time, his achievements are beyond impressive; creating an electric car company and launching manned missions into space.

The Golem

Musk’s vision of an autonomous, albeit limited, robot has a precedent in Jewish tradition.  Jewish folklore describes how Rabbi  Judah Loew ben Bezalel, known as the Maharal of Prague, created a Golem, an animated anthropomorphic being entirely created from inanimate matter, described in the legend as clay or mud. Unlike Musk’s vision, the Golem was enormously strong and acted to protect the Jews from anti-Semitic attacks. The origin of the folk tale is believed to be the Talmud (Tractate Sanhedrin 38b), which describes how Adam was initially created as a golem (גולם) when his dust was “kneaded into a shapeless husk” without a soul.

Rabbi Laitman: AI is inevitable in the end-of-days

Rabbi Michael Laitman, a leading expert in Kabbalah and the founder of Bnei Baruch Kabbalah association, believes that technology and more specifically artificial intelligence, will play a major role in the end-of-days but not necessarily a positive one.

“It is clear in Kabbalah that in the times preceding geula (redemption), Man is going to utilize the entire potential of technology,” Rabbi Laitman told Israel365 News. “Men will begin to create artificial intelligence. People will want to achieve something similar to the creation of Man.”

“In the time of the geula, people will understand that all of this development, all throughout history, is what brought us to an even greater collapse,” he stressed. “This will become very clear in war when we see that all of the technology we developed for man’s good can immediately turn around and be used against man.”

Rabbi Laitman believes that the same motives of Man which led to the construction of the Tower of Babel are also in play with the development of artificial intelligence.

“Men wanted to ascend to the heavens and become like God,” the rabbi explained. “To do this, they were dealing with the basic foundations of creation. They wanted to fix something inside man they believed was a blemish.”

Though this motive sounds noble, Rabbi Laitman pointed out a flaw that turned their good intentions into evil.

“This came from a place of ego, in which they wanted to take the place of God,” Rabbi Laitman said.

Will AI be “human”?

The issue of AI was also addressed by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from 1991 until 2013. In an interview, Rabbi Sacks suggested that the real threat of artificial intelligence and robots is that it blurs the lines separating humans from machines.   

“When emotional intelligence joins forces with artificial intelligence, where will we draw the line between computers and people?” the rabbi asked. “What makes us, and not machines, human?”

“We love what is unique and irreplaceable, not what can be mass produced,” Rabbi Sacks answered. “That is what gives love its poignancy: its inseparable connection with the possibility of loss. It’s what makes human life sacred: the fact that no one is a substitute for any other. And it’s what the rabbis meant when they said 2000 years ago that when a human makes many coins in the same mint, they all come out the same. God makes us all in the same image, His image, but we all come out different.”

“That uniqueness is at the heart of our humanity. And it exists not in intelligence, which can be artificial, but in loving and being loved.”