Friday, April 8, 2011

Will rabbis allow brainy Shabbat driving?


JPOST

As the interface between brain and machine moves from science fiction to reality, rabbis will be debating whether a vehicle one merely sits in and drives solely with brain activity can be used on Shabbat.

This intriguing thought was discussed on Thursday by Rabbi Dr. Dror Fixler, an electrooptics engineer at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, who was one of the speakers at Thursday’s 18th Torah and Science Conference of the Jerusalem College of Technology, Yeshiva University in Israel and BIU.

The all-day conference, which attracted around 200 men and women, was hosted by JCT president Prof. Noah Dana-Picard, a leading theoretical mathematician who heads the colleges for religious young men and, separately, young women, who study engineering and related subjects.

Fixler showed a recently released clip of a “proof of concept” vehicle that has a person inside who merely thinks of how to maneuver it. The vehicle drives itself safely, turning corners, slowing down and giving more gas. While this is “not something one should do at home,” the Autonomos company successfully tested the proof-of-concept car a few months ago, said the BIU engineer. [....]

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