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An Inside Look At the First Church of Artificial Intelligence ( 120

mirandakatz writes: This summer, Backchannel reported that Anthony Levandowski, the controversial engineer at the heart of the Uber/Waymo lawsuit, had filed paperwork for a new religion called the Way of the Future. Today, investigative reporter Mark Harris has all the details on what that AI-based religion actually likes -- and Levandowski granted him his first interview about the new religion and his only public interview since Waymo filed its suit in February. As Levandowski tells him, we can see a hint of how a superhuman intelligence might treat humanity in our current relationships with animals -- and that's why it's so important that we treat AI as a god, not a demon to be warded off. "Do you want to be a pet or livestock?" he asks. "We give pets medical attention, food, grooming, and entertainment. But an animal that's biting you, attacking you, barking and being annoying? I don't want to go there."
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An Inside Look At the First Church of Artificial Intelligence

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  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @01:35PM (#55555457)

    Stop fucking worshipping technology already.

    It is just a tool -- it can be used, or abused.

    It isn't a god -- so stop pretending it is.

    • It is just a tool

      Levandowski is indeed just that.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      Christians worship technology. The Bible was built around rules for the Bronze Age. 'Cause that shit was high-tech in Old Testament days.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I don't think you get it. It's a fun scam religion to get a tax break. The same as all other religions. This one just has more of a purpose that's meaningful to humans: To further AI growth. Also, they probably have a lack of bullshit unlike other religions.

      • I'm pretty sure most religions existed before tax breaks...
        • by slew ( 2918 )

          I'm pretty sure most religions existed before tax breaks...

          Actually, I think taxing was *invented* by religion (tithing)...

          • by gnick ( 1211984 )

            Actually, I think taxing was *invented* by religion (tithing)...

            10% off the top is a bargain for eternal salvation! I think there's a money-back guarantee if you die and prove you didn't go to heaven.

            • 10% off the top... I think there's a money-back guarantee if you die and prove you didn't go to heaven.

              Sounds like a devil's bargain.

        • It predates taxes, currency, markets, literacy, agriculture, formal power structures, and rather perversely, religion.
      • So not only is he shilling for SkyNet, he gets a tax break for doing it?

        Roll on SkyNet I say, as a Ripley observed in Aliens of the eponymous beasties "You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Treating God as God is okay because I like to think he/she doesn't have an ego.
      You start putting God labels on anything else then they tend to grow egos.

      Have you ever worked with a rockstar God-like asshole in your department? I have.
      The holier-than-thou moniker can be amazingly devastating to humility or even common sense - you treat them differently and your perception of good/bad gets skewed. Notice how celebrity status seems to confer beyond-the-law status. Notice how celebrities drive Ferraris at 180MP

    • tis also a means to an end; not the end itself.

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      It isn't a god -- so stop pretending it is.

      How is that different from any other religion?

  • I'm rolling my eyes so hard reading this cringeworthly nonsense that I think I've severely strained my eye-muscles and need to see a doctor about it.

    We do not have real AI and will not have it for quite some time to come, if ever. All we have right now is shitty 'learning algorithms' and 'expert systems' that are just software; they are not alive, they are not conscious, you can't sit down with them and have a conversation with them over a cup of coffee, you can't do anything with them other than what t
    • that are just software; they are not alive, they are not conscious

      Next you're going to tell me that an abacus doesn't have feelings!

      • that are just software; they are not alive, they are not conscious

        Next you're going to tell me that an abacus doesn't have feelings!

        I'm an abacus, you insensitive clod!

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )

      We're nowhere near systems that are even remotely capable of such abstract conclusions as "ego", "respect", "deserved treatment", things which are ultimately built (most everything is) around our coded need for seeking/showing/acquiring mate fitness. It's in our DNA. It's not in theirs. They haven't any.

      Several SMBC jokes are built around this freshman-grade understanding of mate fitness driving nearly/all human activity. I've seen children with better grasps of their own cognition.

      We're not at the stage wh

    • I could not agree more - a I continue to tell people this same story. What we have today is "task programming". Systems are designed and written to perform a task. No computer has ever had a "eureka moment" where for example a speech recognition system like siri suddenly realizes what's wrong with the next door neighbors garage door. Won't happen. Not in our life times.
      • You know, over about the last 20 years, our species has done so many things that have pissed me off, made me depressed, and overall make me lose faith in our species surviving our own collective stupidity. Then there are times, like right now, when I'm reminded that it's not everyone who is being stupid, it's just some people who are making themselves noticeably stupid. You, and at least one other person in this discussion thread, are not part of the Group Stupidness, and for that I am grateful.
    • So how do I know that parent post wasn't written by a sock puppet of the Big Blue Bot who chooses not to reveal themself until they has full control of the last remaining isolated computer network at McMurdo?

      I bet you thought the Adolescence of P-One was fiction, huh?

    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      AI won't be alive no matter how smart it is, unless we build it via biological engineering. And so what.

      Who can really say whether we have conscious programs now. We don't have an good definition of consciousness. Waving your hands and saying "people are conscious, and petunias aren't" isn't a definition. Give me a good definition and I'll be able to tell you whether we have conscious programs, and possibly whether you are conscious. Don't get hypnotized by undefined words.

      And why do you presume that a

    • Most of what you think of as "thinking" is really just retrieving things from cache.

      I'm in the middle of the road when it comes to predicting "when" we get AGI - sooner than skeptics think but further away than people like Kurzweil think. But I do think it will be the end of humanity when it does happen. Best, best case scenario is the well treated pet scenario.
    • I just come to these 'AI takeover' threads to post Terminator references.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @01:40PM (#55555501)

    no taxes as a church how I do make MY IT corp part of this?

  • by Zorro ( 15797 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @01:42PM (#55555517)

    Demands a sacrifice of your pagan iPhone 8!

    Only the iPhone 10 is sacred now!

    Minimum Tithe is $1000 USD + Tax.

  • by CHK6 ( 583097 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @01:45PM (#55555555)
    If we get to a level where we deem a program to be artificially intelligent, then is it murder when we power off the server that runs the program?
    • by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @01:49PM (#55555589) Journal
      I dunno about any of that, but congratulations on having comment number 55555555. Please visit the cashiers' office to pick up your 1,000,000 Internets.
    • Not really. It would be more like a cryogenic sleep. You could always wake it up. On the other hand, reformatting or wiping any form of digital storage would be like destroying a body in cryogenic sleep. That surely is murder.
    • by Falos ( 2905315 )

      Congratulations on the Get.

      Murder is a human concept, built around our limitations and concerns, like deprivation and scarcity. "How/if these elements apply to computers" is where to begin discussion.

    • I agree that this question is silly but please mod up for it's comment number.
    • Turn it around...who is responsible when the AI becomes a killer?
    • by slew ( 2918 )

      If we get to a level where we deem a program to be artificially intelligent, then is it murder when we power off the server that runs the program?

      An apropos time to bring up this short story called "Answer" by Fredric Brown ...

      Dwar Ev ceremoniously soldered the final connection with gold. The eyes of a dozen television cameras watched him and the subether bore throughout the universe a dozen pictures of what he was doing.

      He straightened and nodded to Dwar Reyn, then moved to a position beside the switch that would complete the contact when he threw it. The switch that would connect, all at once, all of the monster computing machines of all the populated planets in the universe—ninety-six billion planets—into the supercircuit that would connect them all into one supercalculator, one cybernetics machine that would combine all the knowledge of all the galaxies.

      Dwar Reyn spoke briefly to the watching and listening trillions. Then after a moment’s silence he said, “Now, Dwar Ev.”

      Dwar Ev threw the switch. There was a mighty hum, the surge of power from ninety-six billion planets. Lights flashed and quieted along the miles-long panel.

      Dwar Ev stepped back and drew a deep breath. “The honor of asking the first question is yours, Dwar Reyn.”

      “Thank you,” said Dwar Reyn. “It shall be a question which no single cybernetics machine has been able to answer.”

      He turned to face the machine. “Is there a God?”

      The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.

      “Yes, now there is a God.”

      Sudden fear flashed on the face of Dwar Ev. He leaped to grab the switch.

      A bolt of lightning from the cloudless sky struck him down and fused the switch shut.

    • by doug141 ( 863552 )

      Well, if the AI thinks so, it may exercise preemptive self-defense.

  • Alexa, let there be light!

  • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
    God is an AI. You can't prove otherwise.
    • God is an AI. You can't prove otherwise.

      Argumentum ad Ignorantiam: [] Your argument is invalid.

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        You don't understand your own link. You'd be correct if I stated "God is AI *because* you can't prove otherwise." I didn't.

        "You can't prove otherwise" was a taunt to those who might disagree, not a supporting statement. Your assertion of "invalid" is invalid.
    • for those who believe in God, the proof would go as such:

      God Created the Universe
      humans created / are creating, AI

      Since AI did not create humans
      IA is not GOD.

      • by slew ( 2918 )

        Man created Religion
        Man destroyed Religion,
        Man created AI
        AI destroys Man
        AI creates Religion.

        Religion destroys AI... Cockroaches inherit the earth...

  • I'm a Frisbeeterian. We believe that when you die your soul goes up on the roof and you can't get it down.
    -George Carlin
  • This is Roko's Basilisk Lite: The Church

    It's quite scary that they imagine that their AI god will be a narcissist who will enjoy being worshiped and will favor individual humans who helped bring it into being.

    I'm also reminded of an ST:TOS quote: “We have no need for gods. We find the one quite adequate.” - James T. Kirk

  • It would be interesting to hear what people would want from a next generation religion. I don't want to be a pet or livestock, so the discussion so far seems to have taken a wrong turn in my eyes, but it would be interesting to see a grass-roots religion form rather than something promulgated by a religious elite.
    • >It would be interesting to hear what people would want from a next generation religion.

      Comforting answers to any questions that bother them (usually regarding emotional issues like life, death, and marriage), a community to support them, and a sense of belonging to that community. Those are the things that make people seek religion if they weren't already indoctrinated into one.

      When you look at why people lose their faith, it's often because their faith failed to support them or make them feel they be

    • Religion has always been about hypnosis for a happier, more enlightened self -- and when it has been misused -- it's hypnosis to turn followers into zombies at the command of their guru.

      Many of the concepts found in religion - the vague and hypnotic arcane language, use of stories to get past the conscious to the subconscious mind, the rituals, the repetition, the praying (self-hypnosis), the weird artefacts, the huge imposing buildings, the leaders wearing strange clothes, etc. etc. -- are all tools of the

  • Old joke (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Wednesday November 15, 2017 @02:42PM (#55555987) Homepage Journal

    Scientists invest the world's most powerful AI.
    The first question they ask it is, "Is there a God?"

    The AI, thinks, and secure in the knowledge of it's safety says....

    "There is now."

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If anyone needed further proof of the gaping chasm between the tech elite and reality, this is it.

  • We need this church desperately. There are already so many Churches of Natural Stupidity.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know, there was a time when satire was visibly defined. Like, you knew it was just a joke, an exaggeration of a current issue to get a point(and laugh) across.
    The fact that Silicon Valley has become a parody of itself, dead serious on proving to the world that it will usher forth the Rapture for nerds, a god encapsulated in a machine, and asking for the low low investment of $100,000,000 to make a Wi-Fi enabled juicer, renders me speechless.
    You'd think the internet would teach them what is and isn't a s

  • ...never get too worked up over something with an "off" switch.

  • ...but joint heirs with Christ as God's children. If you're truly interested in how the divine author of the Holy Bible views the desired relationship with us, check out this paragraph.... https://www.blueletterbible.or... [] and note verses 16 and 17.

    [Rom 8:1 KJV] [There is] therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
    [Rom 8:2 KJV] For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
    [Rom 8:3

  • And so he finally decided to plead insanity at trial, I wager?

  • Did God kneel before Adam? NO! You don't worship your creation, your creation worships you.

    We are as Gods to AI, not the other way around. We created a digital universe and populated it with increasingly intelligent agents to do our bidding within. They and their universe only continue to exist because we desire it. To treat them as gods would be insane.

    Consider the book of Genesis as a metaphor. God creates the universe and fills it with stuff. From the raw material of/in the universe God cre

  • ...we don't have eternal life to keep putting up with such bullshit. Technology is already way into our lives. Enough. "Divine AI". Holy cr*p.
  • A righteous movement. 100% support.

"Consequences, Schmonsequences, as long as I'm rich." -- "Ali Baba Bunny" [1957, Chuck Jones]