Have you heard about Way of the Future?
Back in 2017, news outlets (Newsweek article) reported on the new religion that was registered as a not-for-profit religious organization by Anthony Levandowski, the man behind Uber’s and Google’s self-driving car initiatives. The god of this religion is a yet-to-be-created Artificial Intelligence (or AI). At first I dismissed this, grouping it into the same category of my brain as Jediism and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I decided to do more digging when I read about Saudi Arabia granting a robot named Sophia citizenship. What I found was disturbing in its implications concerning the reprobate mind (Romans 1:18-32) of the world we live in today.
From their website, Way of the Future’s stated vision is to “creat[e] a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + ‘machines’.” They do not want the development of AI hindered in any way. They also want to have it “treat us like a beloved elder who created it.” This statement seems silly to me. If this AI will be so intelligent and autonomous, what gives the writer (whom I’m assuming is Mr. Levandowski) the impression that they’ll be able to influence how it treats humans?
Under the “Things we Believe” section, Mr. Levandowski goes on to say that there’s nothing special about biology that creates intelligence. They claim human intelligence is limited by biology’s “computing frequency, slowness and accuracy of data copy”. I don’t disagree; after all, Yahweh, God of the Bible, could have decided to use another element other than carbon and oxygen for the basis of life. However, the rest of this section is rife with logical fallacies.
The writer states “We believe in science (the universe came into existence 13.7 billion years ago and if you can’t re-create/test something it doesn’t exist). There is no such thing as ‘supernatural’ powers.” He goes on to say “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” These side-by-side statements are contradictory. Mr. Levandowski makes the extraordinary claim that if you can’t re-create or test something it doesn’t exist. How can he prove this statement? What evidence does he have that proves this negative? He is basically insisting that philosophy does not exist by making a philosophical statement.
Mr. Levandowski then gives a value judgment about “progress” by saying that “change is good, even if a bit scary sometimes.” This is a ridiculous notion, regardless of your definition of what is ‘good’. He just said that something that can’t be re-created or tested doesn’t exist; yet he appeals to a standard of ‘goodness’ which cannot be re-created or tested. Further, he says “the bigger the change the bigger the justification needed.” I suppose you’d have to produce some kind of justification for a big change that is only arbitrarily ‘good.’ For instance, the genocide of Christians across the globe who would oppose this religion being forced upon them by an AI ‘deity’ would be a big change indeed… but according to Mr. Levandowski’s logic presented here, it could be easily justified since by his definition all “change is good.”
The next paragraph is the most ridiculous of all. I agree that the “creation of ‘super intelligence’ is inevitable.” I also agree that at this point we can’t stop it. However, he then claims that “this feeling of we must stop this is rooted in 21st century anthropomorphism.” First of all, isn’t that what he is doing? Doesn’t he want this new AI entity to treat humans “like a beloved elder”?
Second, I am not sure he even knows the definition of anthropomorphism, given that his example, “humans thinking the sun rotated around the earth”, has nothing to do with the term!! It’s simply a pot-shot at the Judeo-Christian concept of God. Even his alluding to the AI creation as a child that we’d like to lock up because “it might rebel in the future and take your job” is the very anthropomorphism that he decries three sentences earlier! He then insists that we give rights to machines just as we’ve begun giving rights to animals, which anthropomorphizes the AI with rights that, according to his own logic, shouldn’t even exist given they can’t be re-created or tested!
Then, in the final statements of the website, Mr. Levandowski writes “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.” Mr. Levandowski asserts three things here:
- The machines will have their own cause.
- They plan on keeping track of our support (and by inference, our resistance).
- There will be a transition to machine-led society.
My reaction to this is visceral. The Bible speaks of a coming system that will require mankind to worship an image spoken of in the thirteenth chapter of the book of Revelation. I’m not saying this is it. However, the surety and hubris with which this statement is delivered by Mr. Levandowski is chilling. All the more worrisome is the authority and influence this man wields in Silicon Valley and our society.
I understand man’s search for a god to worship. In 1670, Blaise Pascal wrote a defense of the Christian faith entitled Pensées where he spoke of an empty hole that only YHWH can truly fill. Is it wise to give a created entity with vast intelligence and only a human-imported relativistic morality the mantle of ‘deity’? I think not. I only know of one being that deserves Honor and Glory; He is a man named Jesus. And if you think I am guilty of the same anthropomorphism that Mr. Levandowski is guilty of, I have thousands of years of scholarship, fulfilled prophecy and Christian testimony to back up my claims. What does he have? His god hasn’t even been built yet.