Feb 20, 2021 - Technology

Anthony Levandowski's Church of AI has shut down

Illustration of robot hand reaching out to human hand

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A church dedicated to the appreciation of AI and founded by self-driving car engineer Anthony Levandowski has shut down, according to reporting by TechCrunch.

Why it matters: The Way of the Future church may have looked like a prime example of the weirdness of Silicon Valley, but it may eventually serve as an early indicator of how AI could fundamentally alter the human worldview.

Driving the news: The Way of the Future — which Levandowski set up in 2015 — was officially dissolved at the end of last year, according to state and federal records cited by TechCrunch.

The backstory: The Way of the Future first came to light in a 2017 article in Wired, which cited documents stating that the church would be dedicated to "the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software."

  • The church was controversial from the beginning, not the least because the public reveal occurred as Levandowski was in the middle of a major legal dispute with his former employer Google that eventually led to him being sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets.

What they said: "What is going to be created [in AI] will effectively be a god," Levandowski told Wired in 2017. "If there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?"

Our thought bubble: I can see some similarities between God and how some people think about AI.

Of note: Levandowski ultimately secured assistance from a more earthly intercessor: Donald Trump, who pardoned him during the ex-president's last days in office.

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