Here’s some news that's likely to give Elon Musk a heart attack: a former Google engineer has founded a religious organization that seeks to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.”
Anthony Levandowski co-founded self-driving trucking company Otto, which Uber acquired for $680 million in 2016. He became head of engineering for the ride-hailing firm’s autonomous vehicle division, and made headlines after being fired in May following allegations he stole trade secrets from former employer Google.
It seems Levandowski could now become more famous for his nonprofit religious entity, called Way of the Future, which he founded in September 2015. Wired’s Backchannel discovered previously unreported state filings that reveal the corporation aims “through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society.”
While Way of the Future has yet to submit forms with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to qualify as a tax-exempt religious organization, the documents do show Levandowski as its CEO and president.
AI gods may sound like the stuff of sci-fi, Anime, and computer games, but it’s certainly a concept likely to appeal to the futurists and transhumanists of Silicon Valley more than traditional religions.
Elon Musk is one CEO unlikely to welcome the move toward self-aware artificial life and the singularity. The Tesla boss was one of many experts to create OpenAi, a nonprofit that makes sure AI development is regulated. He also joined 116 other experts calling for a ban on “killer robots" recently, and said AI was humanity’s “biggest existential threat” and “more dangerous than North Korea.” Hopefully, his words won't come back to haunt us when everybody's forced to worship an all-seeing robotic god.