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Leonard Nimoy on the Jewish Roots of Spock, Robots with a Soul, and More
March 04, 2015
Summary: In memory of Leonard Nimoy, it's only logical to re-visit our 2012 interview. The son of Jewish immigrants, he says his half-alien Spock was a true 'diaspora character.' And the dangers and divinity of artificial intelligence.
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Leonard Nimoy on Judaism, Spock and Spirituality March 04, 2015
After 83 years on this planet, Leonard Nimoy has been called home; beamed up, perhaps, to some place beyond the stars. The man known as the half-human, half-Vulcan Mr. Spock truly felt comfortable as the loner, the alien. The son of Orthodox Jewish immigrants, he grew up in a largely Catholic neighborhood in Boston, where he fell in love with the strangeness and mystery of Jewish rituals. He went on to base his Vulcan hand salute and "Live Long and Prosper" on a Jewish blessing he remembered from synagogue.

He spoke to Nadine Epstein, editor of Moment Magazine, in 2012.

Leonard Nimoy, photographer, film director, poet and actor
Thomas Dunne Books
The Dangers and Divinity of Artificial Intelligence March 04, 2015
Physicist-genius Stephen Hawking is worried we might destroy ourselves. "Full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," he told the BBC in December. Our guests today fear a similar fate--but they also say that studying thinking, learning machines can be a practice of deep spiritual discernment. To study artificial intelligence is really to study the deepest parts of ourselves.

Anne Foerst, professor of theology and computer science at St. Bonaventure University 
James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era

Meet Kismet, one of the embodied robots Dr. Foerst worked with in MIT's A.I. Lab. Kismet was able to interact with humans in a 3-D environment, and expressed emotions like sadness, interest, surprise and happiness.