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Former Google and Uber engineer is the development of an AI ‘god’

A keyboard of the computer is lit up by a cyber-code is seen in this illustration photo taken on March 1, 2017. (REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration)

The concept of an AI ‘god’ might seem strange, but a former Google and Uber engineer is touting the idea of a high-tech ‘deity’ as a way to improve society.

Think about how much we depend on Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa today. We ask the AI bot for directions, to check on the weather, and dim the lights in our house. Few of us are familiar with the complex engineering needed to make this happen, we can trust that it will work.

By 2029, computers will reach human levels of intelligence, according to one theory. In fact, Google already uses a bone called the Assistant can answer to pretty much any web-search-related research. Can we rely so heavily on a daily basis to evolve into a ‘religion’ or a sect?

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A well-known engineer who worked at Google and Uber with the name Anthony Levandowski also founded a new AI-based religion called the Way of the Future. The charter? To worship and to understand “the Godhead” for the betterment of society.

At least one expert suggested the idea of an AI-deity is perhaps exaggerated, however.

“The recent coverage of AI as a single, unified power, is a predictable result of a self-aggrandizing Silicon Valley culture that believes that the call of God,” says Thomas Arnold, a Research Associate at Tufts University’s Human-Robot Interaction Laboratory.

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According to Arnold, the idea of an AI religion is actually more about the tech elite, think they can call a religion of “whole cloth” — similar to the way the industry thinks that one app can be transcendent in society or life-changing in a certain way. Instead, he argues that the cold and impractical nature of the technology is not really a match made in Heaven.

“The ideas of mourning, loss, tragedy, social justice, and greater responsibilities of the neighbours-who the world religious tradition gradually developed the resources to address, reflect on, and offer a rich re-possibilities — are largely dispensed with in the AI as a religion, evocations,” he says. God only knows whether someone will worship a AI that is so sterile.

An AI would be able to write a bible for how to live and expect people to be of service. It is one of the reasons Elon Musk has decried the dangers of AI, saying superintelligence is more dangerous than the North Korean nuclear weapons. Musk has slammed the concept of an AI “god”.

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Nevertheless, the AI is clearly expanding its reach in the society. A podcaster named Rose Eveleth contributed to the creation of an algorithm that wrote an AI bible collected from the holy scriptures. It is a remarkable exercise, even though the result is usually nonsensical. If that is really important is open for discussion, according to the experts.

“An AI would be the equivalent of a ‘Messiah’ — with many orders of magnitude more processing elements than the brain, causing it to present us with solutions to the most daunting social, political, economic, and environmental challenges,” says Dr. Stephen Thaler, President and CEO of Imagination Engines, AI, and consciousness expert.

The seminary grad, and lawyer John Mitchell says that people have a tendency to “worship supreme understanding” — and that goes for AI. “We [believe] there must be a higher power that causes lightning, sunsets, and the waves are — or at least speaks to the core of our being, then ignore them as ho-hum background,” he says, suggesting the same could happen with AI or that AI can help us understand religion better.

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Of course a superintelligent AI would probably not want to be worshipped, the preference to only that guide humanity in a way that we perceive it as (mostly) friendly.

“I would expect that the AIs that develop in the next 50 years is very rational and, if conscious, do not want to be worshipped. If they are the human race’s best interests at heart (and God help us if they are not) then they would want that we have as much right to self-determination as possible,” says the book of the author and a computer consultant Peter Scott.

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