Have you had the fill of “crazy” for the week already or can you still take another bite? Because Anthony Levandowski, former Google and Uber employee, has announced he established a nonprofit religious corporation called Way of the Future – a Church of AI, if you will.
If Levandowski’s name sounds somewhat familiar to your ears, it’s because this is the same man that used to work at Google before leaving and founding autonomous trucking company Otta, which was bought by Uber. That wouldn’t pose a problem, if it weren’t for the fact that Google is accusing Levandowski of stealing its corporate secrets regarding driverless cars, implementing them in Otto and then selling them off to Uber. Google’s Waymo and Uber are currently in a major legal battle over this issue and it seems like it’s going to go on for a while.
So, what’s Levandowski’s Way of the Future? Well, its declared purpose is to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence. ” The organization plans to contribute to the betterment of society through the understanding and worship of the Godhead.
In short, if it wasn’t already clear, this is a church worshiping an AI God. Levandowski seems to be a big believer in Singularity, or otherwise known as the moment in the future where AI will surpass human intelligence – the turning point in all AI-related movies in Hollywood. Given Levandowski’s role in creating autonomous cars, it’s not exactly a surprise that he believes this is the way AI research is heading. And Levandowski’s not alone in his belief, which is pretty much widespread among many tech workers in Silicon Valley, especially people that deal with AI day in and day out.
The religion of AI
The fact that the notion of religion is shifting a bit is not exactly a surprise. Before modern religions, there were many others, with farmers worshiping deities that would bring them good weather, and bountiful harvests, for instance, or pantheons full of gods. With the rise of technology, there’s really no surprise that some have come to the conclusion that an AI should be what the world should worship next.
Now, this is the type of thing that Elon Musk is probably referring to when saying we should fear Artificial Intelligence because it sounds downright weird. In a speech a few years back, he even compared work on AI to “summoning the demon.” Other experts in the field, including Bill Gates, have dismissed Musk’s concerns and said that such a thing is not possible.