CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Sci-Tech

The new Church of the AI God is even creepier than I imagined

Commentary: Way of the Future, the God-bot religion founded by former Google executive Anthony Levandowski, has a website. And, oh.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Turkey opens its first humanoid robotics factory

I am your new god, you useless being. 

Getty Images

I've been praying that more would come to light ever since the existence of a God-bot religion called Way of the Future was revealed this fall.

At the time, Wired's Mark Harris said he'd seen state filings from California that revealed a religion with AI as its god

Charmingly, he said it was founded by Anthony Levandowski, the former Google, Waymo and Uber engineer now embroiled in a lawsuit brought by Alphabet-owned Waymo against Uber. He's accused of stealing self-driving car secrets and exposing them to Uber, which has denied any wrongdoing.

Now, Harris has actually chatted with Levandowski, who calmly explained the religion's origins.

"What is going to be created will effectively be a god. It's not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes," Levandowski told Harris. "But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?"

But if it's so clever, why can't it make lightning or cause a hurricane? It just takes a little global warming, surely.

I'm enraptured by the fact that Way of the Future now has a website, with a URL -- Wayofthefuture.church -- that suggests celestial pretensions. 

I fear, though, that some of its content will cause an ungodly onset of teeth-gnashing.

Here's the very first line: "Way of the Future (WOTF) is about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + 'machines.'"

"Machines"? Has the site taken on the inverted-comma vernacular of the average Donald Trump tweet? 

We're surely talking about machines -- those plain, simple engineering creations. Way of the Future, though, can't stop with the odd punctuation. 

"Given 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," it says.

"Relatively soon"? Google's director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, believes humans will be robot hybrids by 2030. Is that "relatively soon"? It feels disturbingly soon to me.

With every sentence, Levandowski's "church" makes Scientology seem like a mere brotherhood of humanity. 

Hark at this: "We should think about how 'machines' will integrate into society (and even have a path for becoming in charge as they become smarter and smarter) so that this whole process can be amicable and not confrontational."

Do you feel a touch of non-amicability creeping into your veins? 

WOTF -- which I find myself abbreviating to WTF, or at least W(O)TF -- says that we've given rights to "both sexes, minority groups and even animals." So why not machines too?

You may experience revolutionary conniptions when you absorb the apparent inevitability of artificial intelligence taking over the world.

"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' past)," WOTF says.

But doesn't anthropomorphism mean applying human characteristics to non-humans and objects?

Levandowski didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. He did, however, tell Wired: "We'd like to make sure this is not seen as silly or scary."

There's one more sentence that makes me wonder about the people -- or robot hybrids -- behind this church.

"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," says WOTF. 

The rise of the authoritarian machine seems "not so distant."

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

iHate: CNET looks at how intolerance is taking over the internet.