The Golem Lives On

Chapter 1 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM

Chapter 1: The Golem Lives On

Martina Lüdicke

What are the golems of today? The golem metaphor denotes phenomena, technologies, or inventions that get out of hand. They can become a threat once their creators lose control over them. This is relevant to many fields, including robotics, genetic research, artificial intelligence, and political movements.

The analogy between the golem and artificial intelligence is not new. The scientist Gershom Scholem named an Israeli mainframe computer "Golem Aleph" and wished the machine to remain peaceful. Today, specialists develop AI creations that simulate consciousness, store memories, or express aggression or empathy. The modern golem stands for the ambivalence of hope, skepticism, and danger in the face of the achievements of a world that is becoming increasingly technologized.

The golem became more widely known through the countless golem descendants that have been populating the cosmos of role plays and computer games since the 1970s. It first appeared in an analog version, such as in the Dungeons & Dragons game, and later in digital worlds such as Minecraft or Clash of Clans. Whether on the computer, game consoles, or tablets—iron golems, gemstone golems, and chaos golems obey the demands of their creators, but the potential to get out of control is always lurking within them.

Martina Lüdicke majored in Literature Studies and works at the Jewish Museum Berlin, where she has curated the exhibitions Chrismukka, How German is It?, The Whole Truth... Everything you always wanted to know about Jews and Snip it! Stances on Ritual Circumcision.

Citation recommendation: 
Martina Lüdicke (2016), The Golem Lives On. Chapter 1 of the Exhibition Catalogue GOLEM.
URL: www.jmberlin.de/en/node/4682