former executive at Google has filed paperwork with the IRS to
establish an official religion of technology. This religion doesn't
just worship scientific progress, but artificial intelligence
itself, with the goal of creating a godhead.
new church of AI will aim "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,"
according to IRS documents.
non-profit religious organization would be called "Way of the
Future" (WOTF). According to the website (wayofthefuture.church),
the movement is "about creating a peaceful and respectful transition
of who is in charge of the planet from people to people +
that technology will 'relatively soon' be able to surpass human
abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future
and prepare a smooth transition," the site explains. "In 'recent'
years, we have expanded our concept of rights to both sexes,
minority groups and even animals, let's make sure we find a way for
'machines' to get rights too."
is an inherent contradiction in creating a deity of artificial
intelligence and then worshipping it.
stop pretending we can hold back the development of intelligence
when there are clear massive short term economic benefits to those
who develop it and instead understand the future and have it treat
us like a beloved elder who created it," the site argues. Yet the
IRS document spoke about a "Godhead based on artificial
website argued that the creation of "super intelligence" is
inevitable, and that fear of this development is unhealthy. "We
don't think that there are ways to actually stop this from happening
(nor should we want to) and that this feeling of we must stop this
is rooted in 21st century anthropomorphism (similar to humans
thinking the sun rotated around the earth in the 'not so distant'
WOTF meant to use the word "anthropocentrism," the idea that the
universe is centered around humanity, rather than
"anthropomorphism," the attribution of human characteristics and
purposes to inanimate objects. Indeed, it is arguable that WOTF is
attributing human characteristics — or perhaps divine
characteristics? — to technology.
all, the very next sentence continues, "Wouldn't you want to raise
your gifted child to exceed your wildest dreams of success and teach
it right from wrong vs locking it up because it might rebel in the
future and take your job." This encouragement to consider machines
as children — coupled with the notion of giving them rights — is
arguably textbook anthropomorphism, but it may be the opposite of
Mark Harris first reported the IRS filing, which lists
former Google executive Anthony Levandowski as the "Dean" of WOTF.
Levandowski, the engineer behind Google's self-driving car project
known as Waymo, quit Google to found his own autonomous trucking
company, Otto, in May 2016. Uber acquired Otto in July of that year.
sued Levandowski, claiming that he had downloaded Waymo's files and
trade secrets before resigning to found Otto. In May 2017, U.S.
District Judge William Haskell Alsup ordered Levandowski to stop
working on Otto's Lidar and required Uber to disclose its files on
the technology. Uber later fired Levandowski for refusing to
cooperate in an internal investigation.
to the IRS filings, Way of the Future plans its first events —
"workshops and educational programs throughout the San Francisco/Bay
Area" — later this year.
Levandowski's legal troubles, that timeline may be a bit too
ambitious. Even so, the IRS filings suggest he is extremely
dedicated to this new religion of artificial intelligence.