The Church of Artificial Intelligence: The Way of the Future Denies the Way, the Truth, and the Life
Many technologists define artificial intelligence (AI) as non-biological material that has the ability to accomplish complex goals.[i] AI has lately received significant press due to the many breakthroughs that are continually happening in the technology sector. Science and society are increasing their ability to manipulate microelectronics to store and access larger amounts of digital memory, quickly transform memory states through computation, and design algorithms that enhance performance through experience.
Anthony Levandowski (1980–) is a naturally intelligent biological agent. By that, I mean he is a man that has a gift of employing the technologists’ definition of the word, to accomplish complex goals. A graduate of engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, he has gone on to work for Google. While there, he was involved in developing Google Street View, whereone can see various street views of the location. For example, I can see my home as well as my car sitting in the driveway.
Levandowski has spent much of his career working towards the realization of self-driving cars. He left Google in 2016 to form Otto, a self-driving technology company that is focused on developing self-driving technologies for semi trucks.
Levandowski is enamored with science and AI. He believes in the singularity, or as he calls it the transition—the inevitable explosion of AI beyond human intelligence and its ongoing exponential increase. Rejecting biblical creation, the testimony of Scripture, the witness of the human conscience, and the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he denies the reality of the triune God of the Bible, stating that there is “no such thing as ’supernatural‘ powers and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”.[ii]
Levandowski has become so enthralled with AI that he has filed paperwork with the state of California stating he is creating a new religion by establishing a church of AI. He is calling his new church the Way of the Future (WOTF). He has laid claim to the position of Dean and Chief Executive Officer.
Way of the Future (WOTF) is about creating a peaceful and respectful transition of who is in charge of the planet from people to people + “machines”. Given that technology will “relatively soon” be able to surpass human abilities, we want to help educate people about this exciting future and prepare a smooth transition.[iii]
According to Wired, the mission of the organization is “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.”[iv] He views the role of his new church to facilitate the transition to the machine as godhead. Levandowski believes his church is there to spread this idea as the gospel, a new and exciting message of promise and hope for the future.
Levandowski believes that machines will have the capability to perform millions or billions of times more computations than what humans can do in their natural state of intelligence. Improperly, he states that such an ability makes the machine an intelligence that is worthy of worship. It is worthy of worship because it is present to us and not outside of our sight or control. If one talks or prays to it, one can know that it is listening and will respond. Levandowski wishes to worship a finite creation, in essence a supercomputer.
Levandowski is deficient in the proper understanding of what should be considered God. His account is narrow, overly simplistic, and reductionistic. Intelligence is not the only measure of God. One would expect that God would also be just, righteous, infinite, perfect, etc. Even if one is only looking at intelligence, the Bible lays claim that God’s intelligence is beyond human comprehension. It seems Levandowski is most interested in creating a divinity in his own image or the image of mankind in general. Such idolatry is pure folly (Isa 44:9–20).
The God of the Bible has spoken directly against Levandowki’s concept in the first two of the Ten Commandments (Exod 20:3–5; Deut 5:7–9).
Scripture should inform any Christian’s understanding of what comprises a true church. Though we are sometimes prone to acting and talking as if we have a different understanding, it is not to be understood as simply a building or a place. A proper understanding of a true church includes viewing it as a congregation of those who have placed their faith and trust in the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, who by mutual agreement, fellowship together in accordance to biblical teachings. The church—in a broader contextual understanding—is also called the Body of Christ which includes all of the redeemed of all the ages.
In the world today, there is a free market of ideas. Levandowski is entitled to his ideas. In a world of pluralism, we must understand that it is truth that shall ultimately prevail. Our great and glorious God does not coerce us to believe. We are to rely on the operation of the Holy Spirit through the proclamation of His Word to change men’s hearts.
The way of the future is the same today as it has always been. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
[i] Max Erik Tegmark, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, 1st ed. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2017), 39.
[ii] Anthony Levandowski, “Way of the Future,” Anthony Levandowski, http://www.wayofthefuture.church/.
[iv] Mark Harris, “God Is a Bot, and Anthony Levandowski Is His Messener,” Wired (2017), https://www.wired.com/story/god-is-a-bot-and-anthony-levandowski-is-his-messenger/; “Inside the First Church of Artificial Intelligence,” Wired (2017), https://www.wired.com/story/anthony-levandowski-artificial-intelligence-religion/.
Paul Golata is a biblical Christian ethicist and moral philosopher, theologian, and adjunct professor who also works and makes written contributions related to the subject of advanced technologies. He holds a BSEET from DeVry Institute of Technology, an MBA from Pepperdine University, and an MDiv and PhD from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Read more from Dr. Golata at http://paulgolata.com/.