Computers can write Torah now

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"Computers can write Torah now — should we be excited or terrified?" David Zvi Kalman. On-line Forward 13 May 2021; at link as of 17 May 2021.[1]

From the end of the introduction:

The era of computer-generated Torah is upon us, and its consequences are by turns dazzling, hilarious, depressing and terrifying. In the time since I gained access to the current cutting-edge text completion engine, I have seen it compose bar mitzvah speeches, Yehuda Amichai poems, proverbs, midrash, mystical texts, and even — sometimes — a little bit of Talmud.

On the one hand, this is incredibly exciting. At a time when progressive Jews are seeking reinterpretations of old texts and actively creating new ones, computers now seem capable of writing, at least in draft form, exactly the kinds of Jewish texts that I wish already existed. But the very presence of these algorithms, not to mention their deployment, raises questions that are different from, say, the questions that come up around computer-generated sonatas. I want to explain why this is and what a particularly Jewish response to the problem could look like.

The algorithms most in play here are generated by AI, in a general sense, more specifically by "GPT-3, a natural language processor [.... that] inhales huge chunks of the internet and then, through a series of techniques [...] generally called 'deep learning,' figures out how to string together word after word in a way that resembles the texts that it has been fed. By doing this, GPT-3 has learned how to imitate, with remarkable coherence, basically every genre in which human beings have ever written."

The Clockworks2 wiki is the currently-latest product of a project that began with the anthology of essays, The Mechanical God: Machines in Science Fiction (1982); the possibility of machine-generated holy-sounding writ adds an additional twist to the idea of "The Mechanical God."

RDE, finishing, 17May21, with thanks to Suzy McKee Charnas