Anthony Levandowski's Church of AI has shut down
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.
- Like the Lord, AI can move in mysterious ways, which is why an entire subdiscipline has developed to try to explain its actions.
- Just as believers will ask God for guidance in life, AI is increasingly taking a role in helping humans make decisions — though generally more in the field of business analytics.
- Some believers hold that God will punish the unfaithful, while a few in the AI community fear that a future machine intelligence might somehow go back in time and torture humans who didn't work to bring it into existence.
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.