Does Artificial Intelligence Herald a New Era in Human History? And What Will This New Era Bring?

Dec. 20 2021

When Henry Kissinger first met the former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, he told him that “Google is a threat to civilization as I understand it.” The two of them, together with the MIT computer scientist Daniel Huttenlocher, subsequently coauthored The Age of AI, in which they explore the ramifications of artificial intelligence. The advent of this technology, in Kissinger’s formulation, signals the end of the age of reason that began in the 17th century, and the start of something new. In conversation with Roger Hertog, the three address the ethical, philosophical, geopolitical, and even religious implications of these new frontiers in computing.

At one point, Hertog poses the question, “Isn’t it possible that with the end of the age of reason, and a new intellectual force in our lives—artificial intelligence—that humankind will search for meaning in their lives, and maybe find it, in a newfound belief in God or religion?” To which Kissinger replies that such an outcome is “probable.” (Video, about 90 minutes.)

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Read more at Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center

More about: Artifical Intelligence, History, Religion, Technology, U.S. Security

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism