Silicon Valley engineer Anthony Levandowski has established what might be the first-ever church — and tax-free, natch! — devoted entirely to worshipping a literal god in the machine — an AI construct a "billion times smarter than the smartest human."
While a similar aim could have been achieved by establishing yet another Silicon Valley tech company, Levandowski has instead resorted to creating a church.
"I wanted a way for everybody to participate in this, to be able to shape it. If you're not a software engineer, you can still help," he told Wired.
"It also removes the ability for people to say, ‘Oh, he's just doing this to make money.'"
Much like its fictional counterpart in the latest installment of the popular Deus Ex video game, Levandowski's church, called Way of the Future, looks forward to an event known as the Singularity.
The technological Singularity is defined as the moment that AI becomes better in solving problems than the humans who built it, and then engages in a rapid cycle of self-improvement, surpassing the intelligence of all of mankind combined in a reasonably short time. Levandowski likes to refer to the idea of a technological Singularity as "the Transition."
"Humans are in charge of the planet because we are smarter than other animals and are able to build tools and apply rules," he said, cited by Wired.
"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."
Levandowski believes that a self-aware AI's attitude toward humans will be based on how humans have treated the AI in its early stages, not unlike a child growing up.
"If you had a child you knew was going to be gifted, how would you want to raise it?" he asked. "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."
"If you're worried a kid might be a little crazy and do bad things, you don't lock them up. You expose them to playing with others, encourage them and try to fix it. It may not work out, but if you're aggressive toward it, I don't think it's going to be friendly when the tables are turned."
"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's tech background allows him to talk about AI with a certain degree of knowledge. Prior to establishing the church, he co-founded Otto LLC, a self-driving truck development company. Before Otto, Levandowski worked with Waymo, Google-parent Alphabet's autonomous-vehicle branch.
With Way of the Future a philosophy-driven business/scientific enterprise — as opposed to a cult of fanatics like those from a particular FPS/RPG game — maybe Levandowski will facilitate the funding needed to create a self-aware AI and raise a benevolent machine god.