Do you believe that one day artificial intelligence will surpass human capability?
Many throughout Silicon Valley do.
In fact, some entities are already preparing for a world where AI functions far better than humans ever could.
Ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski is secretly propelling this into a reality through a nonprofit he recently established called Way of the Future.
Its purpose? To develop an AI God and AI religion.
Would you worship a science-based and data-driven Godhead?
Way of the Future
Anthony Levandowski is an engineer whose employment history includes both Uber and Waymo – Google’s self-driving car company. He’s currently in the middle of a heated lawsuit between the two companies for allegedly disclosing trade secrets.
Legal issues aside, Levandowski is an AI engineering expert and multimillionaire.
In September of 2015, he quietly founded a nonprofit religious organization which he dubbed Way of the Future.
What’s the mission of this clandestine nonprofit? According to public IRS documents obtained by Wired the plan is “to develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on artificial intelligence and through understanding and worship of the Godhead contribute to the betterment of society.”
Through Way of the Future, Levandowski plans to develop an AI God and AI religion. As for the details, they aren’t exactly clear because the organization hasn’t returned any outlets’ requests for further information.
Is religion evolving?
According to Pew Research Center, over 25% of Americans consider themselves “spiritual but not religious.” This number rose by 8% since 2012.
To complicate matters a bit, 54% of people who identify as “spiritual but not religious” consider religion to be either “very important” or “somewhat important.”
So, what does it mean when people don’t consider themselves religious but still believe religion to be important?
It could mean that something is missing. Could a new data-driven AI God or AI religion fill that gap?
Moving towards singularity
It’s not uncommon for conventional religions to change while new religions emerge, or old ones fall out of existence.
Singularity is a concept popular throughout Silicon Valley and the tech world. It suggests that one day, computers and AI will gain superhuman intelligence to outperform human activity in all forms. They’ll be so smart, human brains won’t even be able to comprehend AI ability.
Sounds eerily similar to the concept of God, huh?
Transhumanist and self-described “recovering Catholic” Zoltan Istvan seems to think so. He says that if God does in fact exist, “it” is or has already achieved “pure organized intelligence.”
Will you embrace an AI God or AI religion?
AI religion could offer a fresh, modern, and rational option for those who consider science and data as the ultimate truth. For others, conventional religions and their associated texts may simply carry too much baggage.
Experts Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking aren’t quite so optimistic. In fact, they think this path into singularity could pose an existential threat to humanity as we know it. Musk even goes so far as to compare concept to summoning a demon.
Florida pastor and founder of the Christian Transhumanist Association, Christopher Benek offers a nuanced approach arguing that AI and Christianity could work hand-in-hand.
Like any religion, an AI God may not be right for everyone, but it could certainly be an attractive option for the “spiritual but not religious” types.