A new religion wants to welcome advanced artificial intelligence

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There’s a new church for tech-minded folks, and it sounds like something out of a science fiction novel.

“Way of the Future” (or WOTF, as they abbreviate it) is 

1. Not a joke, and 

2. According to them (and this is real) “about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + ‘machines.'”

Yes, you read that correctly. They want to get a head start on selling out the human race to our machine-overlords-to-be.

The church (for lack of a better word) assumes that technology will eventually surpass human capabilities, and turn into an all-knowing, all-seeing being that will resemble—or arguably actually be—a god. And that we need to know who’s on the computers’ side by keeping track (more on that later). 

This is all according to Anthony Levandowski, an engineer of self-driving car technology, and ostensibly, the leader of this new religion. 

WOTF is all about preparing—and even working—to make sure that happens, he said.

“It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?” Levandowski told Wired

Levandowski’s name has been in the press plenty previously, and not even for his fealty in front of machines. He’s at the center of a massive lawsuit between Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Uber over the theft of intellectual property relating to self-driving car technology. Levandwoski’s alleged to have taken important files pertaining to self-driving car tech when he left Waymo (Google’s self-driving car company), and using it to develop technology later acquired by Uber. 

But that all pales when compared to Levandowski’s new “religion,” of which he is the “dean,” according to documents surveyed by Wired.

What Levandowski predicts is commonly known as “the singularity.” The term, coined by mathematician/sci-fi author Vernor Vinge, is used when explaining the moment when computer intelligence surpasses that of people. That idea was widely embraced by other futurists including Ray Kurzweil, an influential artificial intelligence researcher who thinks the singularity will arrive in 2045.

WOTF and Levandowski aren’t making predictions, though. They’re making preparations. 

“Given that technology will be able to surpass human abilities [relatively soon], we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition,” states WOTF’s website.

That might sound relatively reasonable, but it gets scary pretty quickly. Among the things that WOTF says it will do is to track which people are supportive of its movement—a move that tends to sound a bit like what cults tend to do.

“We believe it may be important for machines to see who is friendly to their cause and who is not. We plan on doing so by keeping track of who has done what (and for how long) to help the peaceful and respectful transition,” the WOTF states.

Levandowski himself comes off even more terrifying. Speaking to Wired about the need for people to prepare themselves for a future that is ruled by god-like computer intelligence, Levandowski made it sound like people won’t have much of a choice.

“Do you want to be a pet or livestock?” he asked Wired.

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Tags: anthony-levandowski artificial-intelligence business Religion way-of-the-future

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