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#WhoWeAre Wednesday: Mois Navon

For today’s #WhoWeAreWednesday we feature an interview with Mois Navon. Mois has worked for IBM, News Data Systems (now Synamedia), and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). He is a founding engineer and the chief storyteller at Mobileye. He is also informally known as the chief rabbi of Mobileye. Mobileye builds hardware and software for advanced driver-assistance and autonomous driving systems. Mois is an adjunct professor at Ben Gurion University and Yeshiva University, where he teaches AI ethics. Mois is also pursuing his PhD in Jewish philosophy at Bar-Ilan University.

How would you describe your experience with AI?

My experience with AI is first and foremost through my career as a computer engineer. I started with my degree from UCLA where I learned of the Turing machine. As a student intern at NASA JPL I became enthralled with robotics, which led to my work at Mobileye where I designed the chip powering the autonomous vehicle revolution. My real experience in AI truly began when I started writing my doctoral thesis, “The Moral Status of AI”, which brought me to teaching a college course on the Ethics in AI at Ben Gurion University and Yeshiva University.

How would you describe your faith background?

I was raised with a minimal observance of religion and a maximal faith in an involved Creator. That said, from a young age (seven or eight years old) I was troubled with the existential question: “Why are we here?”. During my student internship at JPL, my boss happened to be religious and taught me both about engineering and about “why are we here”. It was then that I began my quest to learn everything I could about religion and began observing the commandments – one commandment at a time – until I ultimately moved to Israel and became an orthodox rabbi (all the while continuing to work as an engineer).

What led to your interest in the intersection of AI and faith?

AI is the cutting edge of technology today. It is technology, ethically applied, that is at the core of the Jewish faith.  We believe that the Creator left the world unfinished with the challenge for us, humanity, to become His partners in creation and to make the world a better place.  We call this belief “tikkun olam”. It was my desire to fulfill this mission statement, this divine partnership, that led to my interest in the intersection of AI and faith.

Why are you involved with AI&F?

AI and Faith as a concept is the divine imperative to design, develop, and deploy technology for the betterment of humanity. I take this to be my mission statement and for me that translates to promoting ethical AI. I do this through my writing and teaching. I do this through my involvement with organizations like AI&Faith.

How does AI&F affect your work outside the organization?

AI&F is a wonderful connector. It brings like-minded people together, often in serendipitous ways. People reached out to learn more about what I do after they saw a social media post that AI&F had made of an article I wrote.

What open problems in AI are you most interested in?

Building and teaching my course on ethics in AI has brought me into the thick of many issues of critical import. From surveillance and manipulation to virtual and augmented reality, from lovebots to nannybots, the list goes on and on. Some of the most interesting problems to me are those arising from autonomous moral agents: autonomous vehicles, weapons, robots, and rabbis. These technologies have amazing potential to transform our world for the better but are not without their issues.  As an engineer and an ethicist, I approach these technologies with both a deep desire to see them utilized and a deep concern that they be deployed ethically.


A big thanks to Dr. Mois Navon for his time to carry out this interview. Thanks to Emily Wenger for proofreading, editing, and publishing this work.

Literally translated as “repair of the world” from Hebrew.

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