I’ll admit that at times the routine of everyday life can seem bizarre, even a little pointless. Fortunately, we have work, religion, and companionship to give us meaning – something to explain why we wake up every day. But, what happens when two of these explanations begin to fall?
What will we do when work is no longer plentiful because we’ve been replaced by algorithmic machines? And what will we do when religious texts can’t explain why technology is so invasive and overpowering in our lives?
Life will go on, but we’ll still want to explain the unknown. Thus, a new religion is born.
The Way of the Future
Anthony Levandowski is an influential researcher in the self-driving car space, having founded Otto (self-driving trucks), worked at Waymo (Google’s self-driving car division), and at Uber’s self-driving car initiative.
However, after transferring trade secrets from Waymo to Uber he was banned in the space, causing him to start a religion called Way of the Future (WOTF). I know, that transition doesn’t really add up.
However, having worked in the artificial intelligence trenches for years, Levandowski believes that a superintelligent AI is coming. This AI will be able to teach itself anything and come up with solutions to the world’s problems in moments. It could tap into all connected products on the globe from refrigerators to cameras to armed drones. Effectively, it would be all-knowing, all-seeing, and all-controlling of humankind.
The advance of AI is a momentum that nobody can stop. And instead of sitting back and hoping this Superintelligent AI doesn’t harm us, the Way of the Future wants us to prepare.
WOTF proposes we begin worshipping this AI overlord at designated churches. So, when the AI god manifests, it knows that we brought it to life, will view us as its elders, and treat us with respect.
I realize this sounds like pure lunacy, but his prophecy of an “AI god” isn’t completely unwarranted. Tech elite from Elon Musk to Ray Kurzweil warn of The Singularity – the moment when AI becomes far superior to the collective intelligence of mankind.
When it will come; we don’t fully know.
However, the timeline of this machine deity doesn’t have to match up with the Way of the Future. With enough believers, WOTF will come to life.
Is there Merit in WOTF?
First of all, I don’t think Levandowski is proposing we gather around a computer server and chant (although that would be quite comical to witness). Instead, his church would be rooted in education.
There’s a lot of pushback from Society about AI development. But, AI doesn’t have to be threatening. I support anyone that’s educating people on how AI can be used for good… AI deity or not.
Undoubtedly, there are going to be people that see Levandowski as a prophet. And a lot will write him off as a paranoid freak. Regardless, we all need to recognize the significance of the movement he’s attempting here.
Their core beliefs are:
- Belief in Science
- Belief in Progress
- The belief that intelligence isn’t rooted in biology
- Belief in an inevitable Superintelligent AI
- Belief that anyone can help
Religion is notoriously behind the times – reading from thousand-year-old texts. A religion that embraces change, even promotes it, is truly different and has a shot at catching on whether it’s WTOF or something else.
Do we have the beginnings of a Scientology-like creation and conspiracy here? I can’t say. I really don’t know how people are going to respond and if anyone is actually interested in something like this.
Nonetheless, people will believe what they want to believe and you can’t take that away from them, no matter how ludicrous it may sound. Because it is the belief in something greater than oneself that gets us through our days on Earth.
Our understanding of reality and the meaning we place on life will undoubtedly be tested with the continual advancement of artificial intelligence. It may take a religious initiative like the WOTF to help us come to terms with the changing times.
Regardless, there’s one thing that must remain unphased…
Belief in Mankind
I believe in the abilities of man, no matter their past or present. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been screwed over by my fair share of jerks. And it’s caused me to put my guard up more than I’d like.
But, the moment we stop believing in our neighbor to do the right thing or our fellow worker to strive for productivity. This is the crumbling of society.
There are evil-doers out there and I’m not suggesting full naivety. However, sometimes people just need to be believed in by others to help them decide to do what’s best for the greater good.
Because the more you perpetuate the opposite – a disbelief in your fellow man – the more it’ll become the reality.