The Golem and (a)I

May 20, 2024

How many restaurants and bakeries are there in your neighborhood?

I'll take a lucky guess and say - quite a few. But wait. Why haven't they all gone out of business yet? Aren't there pallets upon pallets of factory-made versions of all that food available for cheaper in every supermarket?

Why would people spend extra money for what is essentially the same product?

Because no matter how sophisticated the commercial food factory equipment is - people still prefer homemade or small batch food. There's a reason for that.

When I posted these thoughts on LinkedIn, drawing a parallel to AI generated content and copy, a connection of mine commented the following:

"The Kuzari [a Jewish philosophy book] talks about the concept of a Golem.
He describes that it's possible for people to create a "humanoid" who can carry out certain functions.
But it will never be able to speak.
People can create human-like entities, but speech is something that is unique to a human [soul].

I feel like AI is a modern-day version of a golem.
It's possible for it to imitate many aspects of human existence, even mimicking human thought and memory in certain ways (and surpassing it in others).

But it can never truly be human; its "thoughts" and actions can never truly express the desires of a soul.

It can't even "speak" in the Torah [Biblical] sense of the concept.

Speech isn't just verbalization; there are indeed many animals that can make distinct noises that express what they want (food, to be walked, etc.)

When G-d made man as a "speaker" (based on [the interpretation of] Onkelos), it means he gave us the ability to develop abstract thoughts and convey those concepts through speech.

The more abstract and spiritual the concept, the less it can be expressed without speech.

AI will never have a soul, and thus although Alexa etc. verbalize commands, it can't truly express human spirit."

(There is a legend that a well-known medieval rabbi, the Maharal of Prague, actually created one of these humanoids. It became known as "the Golem of Prague", and there are countless stories about how the Maharal used this humanoid to help protect the local Jewish community from pogroms. Most notably, this Golem was unable to speak - it could walk, take action, understand and follow commands - but it had no power of speech.)

Here is my take on the age of AI:

When a computer has become a "Golem" of sorts, when it can create clever headlines based on a good prompt - what will stand out is the art.

Just like artisan and handmade products have experienced a comeback - a kind of rebellion against homogeneous factory made products - people will begin gravitating to companies that create truly meaningful and personal content.

The kind of content that is very difficult for AI to replicate (unless directed by a talented copywriter).

The kind of content that builds genuine relationships.

The kind of content that can only be produced by humans with a soul.

In other words: marketers that succeed in the coming years won't really be marketers. They'll be brand artists.

And the brands that will do best are those hire brand artists.

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Chavy Helfgott © 2024