Critical Conversations on the Perils and Potential of Artificial Intelligence

Program takes place online on Sunday, March 17, at 7 pm.

Artificial intelligence has become interwoven into our lives with alarming speed. For some, it is a boon to society, capable of helping humanity advance in remarkable ways. For others, it is a dangerous tool destined to compromise privacy, escalate inequity, and, in its most extreme examples, threaten humanity itself.

Critical Conversations is an annual Spertus Institute program that brings together experts and activists to address the most critical issues of the day. This year, the program’s presenters will address the pervasiveness, perils, and potential of artificial intelligence.

Titled Critical Conversations: Artificial Intelligence, Jewish Ethics, and the Future of Humanity, the 2024 Critical Conversations installment will take place online on Sunday, March 17, at 7 pm (CT). Tickets are free. Reservations are required and can be made at

By bringing together experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, ethics, and Jewish thought, this year’s program will help participants consider what this rapidly expanding new technology means for our future.

About the Topic

Spertus Institute President & CEO Dr. Dean P. Bell, who will moderate the program, said, “As an institution of higher Jewish education, Spertus is concerned with the educational potential as well as the ethical challenges of artificial intelligence. We seek to explore its impact both within the Jewish world and beyond. For example, can AI make us smarter and more creative, or does its dogged emphasis on efficiency reduce our ability to think critically? Can it make us more sensitive to diversity and individual distinctiveness, or will it hardwire in place societal biases that are already deeply embedded?”

He continued, “I invite everyone to join us to as we peel apart the issues surrounding this relentless new technology.”

Headhots of Dr. Oren Etzioni (wearing a pink shirt, in front of a white board with math equations), Dr. Ellen P. Goodman (with curly hair and glasses in front of a bookshelf with lots of books), Dr. David Zvi Kalman  (in a plaid shirt with greenery behind him) and Dr. Orly Lobel (in a black dress with greenery behind her).

Presenters (pictured left to right)

Dr. Oren Etzioni is an AI researcher and entrepreneur, who now leads — a nonprofit dedicated to fighting deepfakes in politics. Dr. Etzioni has founded several companies including Farecast, which was acquired by Microsoft. As a Professor at the University of Washington, he has published over 200 technical papers on AI. He was the founding CEO of Allen Institute for AI (AI2), where he now serves as an advisor and technical director of the AI2 Incubator. He writes about AI for publications including The New York Times.

Ellen P. Goodman is an expert on information technology law, including AI and digital platform policy. She currently serves as the Florence Rogatz Visiting Professor of Law at Yale Law School, while continuing a stint as Senior Advisor for Algorithmic Justice at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce. Professor Goodman co-founded and co-directs the Rutgers Institute for Information Policy & Law. She is a Distinguished Professor at Rutgers Law School.

Dr. David Zvi Kalman is a scholar, writer, and entrepreneur who works at the intersection of technology, religion, and art. He serves as a research fellow at institutions including the Shalom Hartman Institute. Widely published (and the founder of an independent publishing house), he writes regularly about AI.

Dr. Orly Lobel is a renowned tech policy scholar and the Warren Distinguished Professor of Law at University of San Diego. The Economist named her newest book, The Equality Machine, a best book of 2022. Dr. Lobel served on President Obama’s policy team, advised the FTC on tech policy, and, in 2023, keynoted the United Nations AI for Good Summit. She has been featured in publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, and Harvard Business Review.

Critical Conversations is generously funded by the late Eric Joss. Past Critical Conversations have focused on issues including rising antisemitism, climate change, race, and immigration.

Critical Conversations: Artificial Intelligence, Jewish Ethics, and the Future of Humanity kicks off the celebration of Spertus Institute’s centennial. Since 1924, Spertus Institute has provided avenues to explore Jewish history, thought, and texts, both as an academic pursuit and as a catalyst for action. We believe Jewish learning is deeply relevant to the challenges we face today and to building a stronger, more compassionate, and more vibrant future. Find out more at

Spertus Institute is a partner with the Jewish United Fund in serving our community.