AI has been threatening to make lots of companies obsolete, and take away a lot of jobs, but it might end up disrupting something a lot bigger — God himself.
Former Uber self driving head Anthony Levandowski has started a religion that worships Artificial Intelligence. Levandowski has reportedly founded a religious organization called Way of the Future, whose purpose to “develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.” Documents filed with California show that Levandowski is Way of the Future’s CEO and President, and that it aims “through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society.”
It might seem like a storyline straight out of HBO’s Silicon Valley, but Levandowski veneration of AI could be understandable — he is among the few people who’ve seen Artificial Intelligence’s powers at close quarters. Levandowski was a top engineer at Google’s self driving car division, until he’d left in 2016 and founded self-driving truck startup Otto. Otto had gone on to quickly made a dramatic public display of one of its trucks hurtling down a highway with nobody in the driver’s seat. Uber had been sufficiently impressed, and had acquired Otto for $680 million, six months after it was founded. Levandowski had become a VP of Engineering at Uber.
But Levandowski’s career came to a shuddering halt in February this year, when Google sued Uber for stealing its self driving technology. “We found that six weeks before his resignation this former employee, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded over 14,000 highly confidential and proprietary design files for Waymo’s various hardware systems, including designs of Waymo’s LiDAR and circuit board,” Google said. After the allegations surfaced, Uber fired Levandowski, and Google and Uber are currently still battling each other in courts.
Given recent events, Levandowski’s turn towards religion comes as no surprise — in difficult times, people normally turn to God, and Silicon Valley engineers are no different. But Levandowski’s prospect of an AI-based god is tantalizing. Would the God be housed in a giant server room, and would he have to be regularly made offerings of Big Data? Levandowski’s Way of Future foundation might have answers.