Anthony Levandowski, the self-driving car engineer behind Google’s Waymo, created “Way of the Future”, a techno-religious pseudocult to venerate the coming AI Singularity.
In Silicon Valley, opinions on AI vary.
While there are those, like Elon Musk, who fear certain scenarios where AI could compromise the survival of the human race, there are also optimists, like Mark Zuckerberg, who condemn this apocalyptic vision about AI.
For Anthony Levandowski, however, AI doesn’t only have the potential to improve life and drive progress, AI will have “godlike” qualities and ought to be worshiped.
To be clear, Levandowski reveres the Singularity–or the point at which computers overcome human intelligence and consequently change the fabric of our reality from top to bottom.
Anthony Levandowski, Autonomous Cars Guru
Anthony Levandowski, born March 15th, 1980, is an engineer specializing in autonomous cars, a technology he worked on since 2004.
Levandowski worked for Google for almost ten years and helped the company take the lead in self-driving cars.
In 2016, he resigned and went on to co-found Otto, a self-driving trucking startup, which was acquired by Uber for a reported $680 million USD.
Uber, which inherited Otto’s tech and staff, including Levandowski, had to retire the Otto name and rebrand its entire self-driving tech as Uber ATG.
Accused of stealing industrial secrets, Levandowski is at the center of an ongoing legal battle between Waymo (a subsidiary of Alphabet) and Uber.
Claiming $2.6 billion USD in damages, Waymo accuses Uber of stealing designs of Waymo’s LiDAR system, perpetrated by Levandowski, a few months before taking over as the head of the autonomous car program at Uber.
Uber denied the accusations, led an internal investigation, and, last May, after he refused to cooperate, fired Levandowski.
“Way of the Future”: Deus ex AI
The United States has, in the past, represented the promise of a new life for those living in areas without opportunity. Whether that’s economic or religious opportunity, the U.S. has been a land where newcomers can freely pursue their quality of life.
Part of what makes that possible is that freedom of religion is guaranteed by the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
There’s no shortage of NRMs, (New Religious Movements), in the U.S., and Anthony Levandowski may have started the first religious organization geared toward worshipping the AI singularity.
In September 2015, according to Wired magazine who unearthed the legal documents, Levandowski founded a new religious organization, called “Way of the Future”, for which he serves as CEO and President.
This religious organization aims 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.”
Yes, an AI-based “Godhead”, you read it right!
This “Godhead” refers to the principle of “singularity”, or the day when machines’ intelligence would surpass humans’ to lead them into a new era of unfathomable possibilities.
Apparently, this aspiration for transcendence is of a quasi-religious nature for Anthony Levandowski the transhumanist.
Religious organizations, as nonprofit corporations, enjoy a special status with the IRS, as they’re tax-exempt, but Levandowski’s new church hasn’t submitted annual tax forms to the IRS.