This time of year, scenes of a messiah in a manger are everywhere. But that was so 1 A.D.
There’s a new savior coming, perhaps Savior 2.0, and according to Anthony Levandowski, it’s artificial intelligence (AI). In fact, he’s creating an entire new religion to worship the technology, and foresees a future where humans kneel at the altar of an all-powerful super computer.
Levandowski, previously known for his role in the blockbuster legal battle between Uber and Google (in which he is accused of stealing trade secrets from Google), is calling the new church Way of the Future. According to the short, first-draft catechism posted on the church’s website, “Way of the Future (WOTF) 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.”
“What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” the new Silicon Valley pope explained to Wired magazine. “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”
Just like other religions, WOTF is currently at work on a gospel (called The Manual), a liturgy, and creating a physical place of worship. However, at this time, the Rev. Levandowski is more focused on reaching out to AI industry leaders and cultivating a pious community of AI professionals and “laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.”
“The idea needs to spread before the technology,” he insists. “The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe, start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things…We’d like to make sure this is not seen as silly or scary.”
Think about it – in a future where every device is connected to the internet and everyone’s thoughts and deeds can be gleaned through social media, this all-powerful intelligence will see and hear everything and be everywhere at all times, just like a deity. And if you want to influence a deity, you need to pray, worship, and behave yourself.
“Part of it being smarter than us means it will decide how it evolves, but at least we can decide how we act around it,” His Eminence Levandowski says. “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.’”
And why will humans eventually have to relinquish control to this digital deity? The prophet explains that “Humans are in charge of the planet because we are smarter than other animals and are able to build tools and apply rules….in the future, if something is much, much smarter, there’s going to be a transition as to who is actually in charge. 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.”
That’s right, it appears that salvation will not be attained through faith alone, but rather good works. According to the decree on WOTF’s website, “We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition.”
I don’t know about you, but I’d say it’s time for some serious data cleansing of the soul. There’s no guarantee this CPU in the sky will let you buy indulgences, so better to get in on the ground floor and face possible martyrdom than to have to stand before an almighty algorithm and have your fate be calculated after it’s too late. Initium sapientiae timor Domini.
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