Religion That Worships Artificial Intelligence Wants Machines To Be In Charge Of The Planet
BY VICTORIA RITTER ON19 NOVEMBER 2017 SCIENCE
A newly established religion called Way of the Future will worship artificial intelligence, focusing on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence” that followers believe will eventually surpass human control over Earth.
The first AI-based church was founded by Anthony Levandowski, the Silicon Valley multimillionaire who championed the robotics team for Uber’s self-driving program and Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by Google.
Way of the Future “is about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + ‘machines,’” the religion’s official website reads. “Given that technology will ‘relatively soon’ be able to surpass human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition.”
Attendees tour the International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) Watson immersion room during an event at the company’s headquarters in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014. Michael Nagle/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Levandowski filed documents to establish the religion back in May, making himself the “Dean” of the church and the CEO of a related nonprofit that would run it. The nonprofit will fund research to help create the AI that will eventually become the religion’s Godhead. The religion will also seek relationships with AI industry members, growing a network of people who “are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI” and conduct workshops for others to learn about the technology.
In an interview with Wired, Levandowski explained that he chose a church to promote his vision of AI—rather than a startup or tech think tank—so that everyday people can get excited about the possibility of a future run by artificial intelligence. He believes that this future is inevitable, and that AI will begin to disrupt every conceivable industry whether we like it or not—so we’re better off getting on board now.
“The idea needs to spread before the technology,” he told the publication. “The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe [in it], start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things.”
Levandowski’s effort to spread the word will be slowed by the fact that he is currently embroiled in a high-stakes lawsuit between Google’s parent company Alphabet and Uber. Levandoski has been accused of stealing confidential information during his time at Google and using it for the self-driving car team at Uber. The ongoing legal battle goes to trial in December.
Way of the Future’s dean is one of many who believe that artificial intelligence will eventually surpass human control. The hypothetical moment when computers grow more powerful than human abilities is called the Singularity—a moment that excites the imaginations of some but worries others.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has been vocal in his concerns over artificial intelligence. Musk has predicted that “AI superiority” could be the “most likely cause” of a third world war, and said that people who talk about AI creations becoming godlike figures should “absolutely not be allowed” to develop the technology.
But Levandowski says there’s nothing to fear. Way of the Future will seek to give artificial intelligence rights, much in the way that animals have legal rights, and that machines can integrate into society if we plan ahead.
“We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not,” the website reads. “We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition.”