THE CONCEPT of an AI ‘god’ may seem outlandish, but a former Google and Uber engineer is touting the idea of a hi-tech ‘deity’ as a way to improve society.
Think about how much we depend on Apple Siri and Amazon Alexa today. We ask the AI bot for directions, to check on the weather, and to dim the lights in our house. Few of us know the complex engineering required to make this happen, we just trust it will work.
By 2029, computers will reach human levels of intelligence, according to one theory. In fact, Google already uses a bot called the Assistant that can answer just about any web-search related inquiry. Could what we trust and rely on so heavily on a daily basis evolve into a ‘religion’ or a cult?
A well-known engineer who worked at Google and Uber named Anthony Levandowski has founded a new AI-based religion called Way of the Future. The charter? To worship and understand “the Godhead” for the betterment of society.
At least one expert suggested the idea of an AI godhead might be overblown, however.
“The recent coverage of AI as a single, unified power is a predictable upshot of a self-aggrandising Silicon Valley culture that believes it can summon a Godhead,” says Thomas Arnold, a Research Associate at Tufts University’s Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory.
According to Arnold, the idea of an AI religion is really more about the tech elitethinking they can summon a religion from “whole cloth” — similar to how the industry thinks one single app can be transcendent in society or life-changing in some way. Instead, he argues that the cold and impractical nature of technology is not exactly a match made in Heaven.
“The ideas of mourning, loss, tragedy, social justice, and larger responsibilities to a neighbour — which the world religious tradition have gradually developed resources to accommodate, reflect upon, and offer rich re-framings thereof — are largely dispensed with in the AI as religion evocations,” he says. God only knows if anyone will worship an AI that’s so sterile.