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‘An Epoch of Golem-Making’: AI and the Jewish Imaginary

26 October 2020 - 13 November 2020

The first online event in a series of workshops on AI Narratives in Central and Eastern Europe will take place on 12 November 2020 and focus on the Golem of Prague – a mythical clay creature, created in the 16th century by Rabbi Loew to defend the local Jewish community from antisemitic attacks – and its relation to contemporary AI. The link between AI and the Golem of Prague is not merely symbolic, as some computer science pioneers, including John von Neumann and Norbert Wiener, considered themselves descendants of Rabbi Loew. The workshop will feature:

  • Emily Bilski - Art Curator and contributor to the Barbican’s AI: More than Human exhibition, who will speak about the cultural expressions of the golem theme: in film, theater, dance, and in particular – the fine arts;
  • Veronika Ambros - Professor of comparative literature at the University of Toronto, who will present her most recent work that compares golems with robots;
  • Ken Goldberg - Professor of engineering at UC Berkeley, who will reflect on what he calls ‘Robo-Exoticism’ (responses to AI and robots that exaggerate both their negative and positive attributes and reinforce fears, fantasies, and stereotypes) and the Jewish history of robots; and
  • Ada Ackerman - Researcher at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique, who will speak about the affinities between the Golem myth and the medium of cinema.

Introductory talks by Kanta Dihal, Principal Investigator on the GAIN Project, and Vít Střítecký, Deputy Head of the Department of Security Studies at Charles University, will open the workshop. The presentations will be followed by a discussion (open to all workshop participants) moderated by Tomasz Hollanek, a PhD Fellow at CFI.

This event is part of a research project funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation Inc.

To participate in the online workshop, please register below. 

register for the workshop