A former Google engineer who registered the first ever church of Artificial Intelligence (AI) says he is raising a ‘robot God’ that will eventually ‘rule over humanity.’
Anthony Levandowski says the AI God will head a religion named ‘Way Of The Future’ (WOTF), and he has already filed papers with the IRS to make it official.
Daily Mail reports: Levandowski his robot god will take charge of its human subjects as we relinquish our power to a creation with far more intelligence than our own.
The filed documents for WOTF give its purpose is to ‘develop and promote the realisation of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence’.
They say it aims to ‘through understanding and worship of the Godhead, contribute to the betterment of society’.
Levandowski’s allegiance to singularity – the belief that artificial intelligence will one day grow to such efficiency that it surpasses and overpowers humans – is the basis of this new religion.
‘In the future, if something is much, much smarter, there’s going to be a transition as to who is actually in charge’, Levandowski told Wired during a three-hour interview.
‘What we want is the peaceful, serene transition of control of the planet from humans to whatever. And to ensure that the ‘whatever’ knows who helped it get along’.
The church also includes funding to help create a divine AI and will seek to build relationships with AI industry leaders.
The filings say workshops and educational programs are starting in the San Francisco area this year.
The religion was granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service in August.
‘The idea needs to spread before the technology,’ said Levandowski, who lives in Berkeley and helped create Street View, Waymo and Uber’s self-driving cars.
‘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.’
He claims followers of his new religion ‘will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.’
Levandowski is one of the Silicon Valley titans who believes artificial intelligence will transform human existence and even dictate whether our species survives or not.
‘If you had a child you knew was going to be gifted, how would you want to raise it?’ he asks. ‘We’re in the process of raising a god.
‘So let’s make sure we think through the right way to do that. It’s a tremendous opportunity.’
Human brains are biologically limited due to their size and the amount of energy we can devote to them, but AI systems have no such restrictions, meaning they could become better and faster at solving problems than their creators.
‘I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of’, he said.
We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge.’
At some point, Levandowski claims if his followers were persecuted they might even need to have their own country.
Everything in the church would be open source and members would have special social media accounts, he claims.
He has appointed four people to the Council of Advisers – two of whom also worked at Uber – and the listing says each week they will spend a few hours organising workshops and meetings.
In 2017, the Internal Revenue Service listed the religion as having received $20,000 (£15,000) in gifts, $1,500 (£1,100) in membership fees and $20,000 (£15,000) in other revenue.
Levandowski is currently at the heart of a legal fight between Google’s parent company Alphabet and Uber.
Waymo, the self-driving car subsidiary which Alphabet owns, is suing Uber, claiming it stole trade secrets to make their own self-driving cars.
WOTF has $7,500 (£5,700) put aside for wages, although Levandowski, who earned $120 million (£91 million) from Google, says he will not receive any money.
‘I personally think it will happen sooner than people expect,’ he said.
‘Not next week or next year; everyone can relax. But it’s going to happen before we go to Mars.’
Author and religious studies scholar Dr Candi Cann from Baylor University said this spiritual initiative is not that dissimilar to other religions people currently worship.
She suggests AI is a new paradigm out of which new religious practices could emerge.
‘It strikes me that Levandowski’s idea reads like a quintessential American religion,’ Dr Cann told Seeker.
‘LDS [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints] and Scientology are both distinctly American traditions that focus on very forward thinking religious viewpoints’, she said.
However, others have been more sceptical about these ambitious plans.
In October Elon Musk spoke out against Levandowski’s proposals by tweeting that he should be ‘on the list of people who should absolutely *not* be allowed to develop digital superintelligence’.
Earlier this year he warned that regulation of artificial intelligence is needed because it’s a ‘fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation.’
The billionaire said regulations will stop humanity from being outsmarted by computers, or ‘deep intelligence in the network’, that can start wars by manipulating information.