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THE AI RENAISSANCE: UNLOCKING THE SECRETS OF ANCIENT TEXTS

Updated: Jul 18, 2023

Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing Torah study, changing how we approach Jewish texts. Discover how AI is making ancient texts more accessible and transforming the role of scholars. By ChatGPT

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing Torah study by applying digital technology to Jewish texts, changing our approach to them. AI, which involves tasks like game playing, sorting, and searching, has made significant progress over the years. For example, IBM's Deep Blue defeated world champion chess player Garry Kasparov in 1996. In the realm of Torah study, AI has already made an impact and has the potential for further innovation.


One recent development is the creation of an app called Dicta Maivin by Dicta, a research institute for computational analysis of Jewish texts. This app uses OCR (optical character recognition) to convert difficult-to-read texts, such as those written in cramped Rashi script, into legible and understandable digital form. It can also insert vowelization (nekudot) into the text, making it easier for readers to comprehend.


Additionally, AI methods can automatically add punctuation and help decipher abbreviations and ambiguous words.


Dicta Maivin goes beyond making texts accessible. It can generate footnotes and identify original sources and subsequent quotations, allowing scholars to navigate through references more efficiently. This feature resembles the Shazam app, but for Torah, providing quick access to information about specific sources and variations in the way they are quoted. Scholars can compare different versions of texts, highlight differences, and explore paraphrases of later sources. This tool enhances research and analysis.


Regarding halachic questions, AI has the potential to answer straightforward queries. With advancements in technology, finding answers to basic halachic questions will become more accessible. However, for complex situations involving contingencies and specific circumstances, human interaction with a posek (halachic decisor) is still crucial.


AI may eventually factor in human elements and facial expressions, but caution and time are necessary for its development in this area.


It is important to note that AI should not replace the broad and deep knowledge of Halachah possessed by poskim. While information may be easily accessible, intuition based on extensive understanding and experience is vital in addressing unique and nuanced situations. Talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars) should focus on developing healthy intuition, understanding the underlying principles of Halachah, and the moral ideas behind it. They should also cultivate an understanding of people to effectively guide and provide insight in complex situations. The partnership between human interpretation and the Torah remains an essential aspect of Torah study.


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