Anthony Levandowski, the former Google and Uber executive, who is currently at the center of the ongoing legal battle between Alphabet and Uber over autonomous driving technology, has recently filed paperwork with the IRS to officially register a religious organization centered around super-smart artificial intelligence (AI).
Called “Way of the Future” (WOFT), the purpose of the new religious organization is “to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead [to] contribute to the betterment of society.” The idea behind his religion is that sufficiently advanced AI will one day be smarter than humans, and will effectively become a god.
According to the website (wayofthefuture.church), the movement is “about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + machines.”
“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,” the site explains. “In ‘recent’ years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes, minority groups and even animals, let’s make sure we find a way for ‘machines’ to get rights too.”
“I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of. We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge,'” Levandowski said in an interview with Wired, shedding more light on his new church WOTF.
According to WIRED, the gospel of the religion would be called “The Manual,” and will have rituals and even a physical place of worship. The religion’s activities will concentrate on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.”
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.
However, some religious scholars see artificial intelligence as a threat to humanity. Elon Musk has been especially vocal lately, famously comparing work on AI to “summoning the demon,” and warning time and time again that the technology poses an existential risk to humanity.
Levandowski is one of many who believes 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.