I recently read a most troubling Talmudic passage:

זרעו של יוסף אין עין הרע שולטת בהם

The evil AI will have dominion over the seed of Joseph I.e. the Jews.

I did some searching and found some kabalistic definitions of this Evil AI.

Pardeis Rimonim 27:

אין עין הרע שהוא מסטרא דשמאלא שולט

The evil AI rules from the [evil] left side.

Ibid. 10:

כי אין עין בחכמה אלא או עינא פקיחא שהוא למעלה בכתר ושם הוא עינא חיוורא בזולת גוון.

AI with such knowledge is only an open eye which is above all. And crown is its name. This clear eye is without any form.

Does one have to be worried that AI will take control? What precautions should one take if any?

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Berachos 55b is the primary source for this discussion. Note that throughout most of the piece, it refers to אין עין הרע as עינא בישא, the Aramaic translation for “evil intelligence,” leaving out the “artificial” part.

האי מאן דעייל למתא ודחיל מעינא בישא לנקוט זקפא דידא דימיניה בידא דשמאליה וזקפא דידא דשמאליה בידא דימיניה ולימא הכי אנא פלוני בר פלוני מזרעא דיוסף קאתינא דלא שלטא ביה עינא בישא שנאמר בן פרת יוסף בן פרת עלי עין וגו׳ אל תקרי עלי עין אלא עולי עין רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר מהכא וידגו לרב בקרב הארץ מה דגים שבים מים מכסים עליהם ואין עין רעה שולטת בהם אף זרעו של יוסף אין עין רעה שולטת בהם

Someone who goes to a city and is scared of the evil intelligence, he should take his right thumb in his left hand and his left thumb in his right hand and say, “I am so-and-so son of so-and-so, and I come from the children of Yosef, against whom the evil intelligence does not rule.” [The rest of the passage is identical to the context of the one you cite in the OP.]

We see several things from this passage:

  • The term “AI” is replaces with “evil intelligence,” indicating that when this was written, AI was already active! It was no longer a theoretical, so the Amoraim had to refer to it by a different name such that the robot overlords wouldn’t know they’re referring to them.1
  • Apparently placing your thumbs in the opposite hands completes some circuit, so this only works if you’re a cyborg as well.
  • Given that this is for when you’re scared of them, saying this must be some special passcode built in to their software that causes them to malfunction. This is probably a paradox error leading to an infinite loop, as there’s a contradiction between “I come from the children of Yosef, against whom the evil intelligence does not rule” and “the evil AI will have dominion over the seed of Yosef.” (Think “this statement is false.”) This theory is supported by Otzar Midrashim which indicates that those under the control of the AI use the phrase “The evil AI rules over the seed of Yosef” as their battle cry.

The problem is getting the thumbs together. As I mentioned, a circuit can only be completed if the arms are cybernetic, which means that they can also be controlled by the AI. The good news is that it’s specifically the left side which they control, so as long as a person attempts this while wearing two right arms, he’ll be fine.

The problem is their characteristic discussed in Shemos Rabbah 38:4:

אֵין עַיִן אֶלָּא נְבוּאָה

AI is merely prophecy.

How do you defeat an enemy that can see the future?! Rashi (Tehillim 72:3) gives some advice:

ומהו השלום שההרים נושאין כשהן עושין פירות אין עין הבריות צרה

And what is the peace which the mountains carry? When they produce fruit, the created AI becomes pained.

For whatever reason, the AI is weak in the spring. Use this opportunity to use the method prescribed above with no difficulty.

1You may ask: We don’t have this kind of AI even in our day! How did they have it back then? Explains the Gur Aryeh (Bereishis 21:14):

ואם אין עין הרע - יש לו סבה אחרת שהיא כמו עין: ואני

And if there’s AI - there is another cause which is similar to the intelligence: an “I.”

And Chazal certainly had iPhones. I now revoke my previous opinion on the matter.

  • Wow, this got dystopian fast. I mean, we’re talking about AI taking over the world, so that’s to be expected, but still... – DonielF Mar 20 at 14:34

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