Technology is shaping our world, creating it as if anew. And this new creation is about to have its own creator.
Say hello to a new religion that will have as its leader an AI god, only there is a human creator behind this god: former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski.
Named “Way of the Future”, the makings of the new religion was discovered by Wired in state filings in 2015.
Check out the Way of the Future mission statement:
“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.”
Way of the Future has not yet responded to requests for the forms it must submit annually to the Internal Revenue Service (and make publicly available), as a non-profit religious corporation. However, documents filed with California show that Levandowski is Way of the Future’s CEO, reports Wired.
Apparently we don’t know how the new religion will operate and at first glance the idea of an algorithm god seems preposterous, until one thinks back on the development of mankind’s relationship with a creator or the divine, whatever you choose to call it.
Religion and with it the concept of god has changed repeatedly as long as mankind has had the need to turn to some force outside himself for answers to his existence. As societies changed, so did religion.
According to Yuval Noah Harari, lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the author of “Sapiens: a Brief History of Humankind”, religion is not eternal and unchanging. Religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Hinduism have survived for centuries and millennia not by clinging to some eternal values, but by repeatedly changing with the times.
He writes: “New technologies kill old gods and give birth to new gods. That is why agricultural deities were different from hunter-gatherer spirits, why factory hands and peasants fantasised about different paradises, and why the revolutionary technologies of the 21st century are far more likely to spawn unprecedented religious movements than to revive medieval creeds.”
Religions must keep up with technological advances otherwise they have no ability to answer the questions that arise, says Harari. Is there a priest, a rabbi or an imam who can answer a question like: Will a cyborg qualify for salvation?
Already we are being told that AI will soon outperform and surpass humans in all tasks and in all aspects, the advent of which is being referred to as the “singularity”. AI, by all accounts, is steadily and inexorably on its way to becoming god-like: omnipotent and omnipresent.
Whether some guy in Silicon Valley takes the initiative to proclaim an AI as god, or not, we already have a technology god in the process of being born. Many people might not realize that.