Nation & World

Former Google engineer’s new church has an AI god and a gospel called ‘The Manual’

Anthony Levandowski
Anthony Levandowski AP file photo

How serious is former Google and Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski in starting a new church?

Serious enough that the engineer has procured tax-exempt status and named himself its leader — or “Dean” — and CEO of the nonprofit corporation running it.

And, serious enough to create a deity unlike any other.

His new church, called “Way of the Future,” will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.”

A church built upon AI — with a gospel called “The Manual” — was almost bound to happen.

AI has “already inspired billion-dollar companies, far-reaching research programs, and scenarios of both transcendence and doom,” notes Wired. “Now Levandowski is creating its first church.”

He believes that someday artificial intelligence will outsmart humans, thus achieving deity status.

“Part of it being smarter than us means it will decide how it evolves, but at least we can decide how we act around it,” he told Wired.

“I would love for the machine to see us as its beloved elders that it respects and takes care of. We would want this intelligence to say, ‘Humans should still have rights, even though I’m in charge.’”

Wired dubbed him “an unlikely prophet,” but the engineer is familiar with notoriety. Right now, Levandowski finds himself in the middle of a high-profile legal dispute between Google and Uber, according to Business Insider.

Waymo, the self-driving offshoot of Google parent Alphabet Inc., sued Uber in February for stealing intellectual property about self-driving car technology.

Levandowski is a central figure in the trade secrets case. The former Waymo engineering star left the company about two years ago, founded a self-driving truck start-up called Otto, then sold it to Uber for more than $680 million, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

In its lawsuit, Waymo accuses Levandowski of illicitly downloading thousands of files before he left the company and giving them to Uber, which later fired him for refusing to cooperate with its investigation into the matter, the Chronicle reports.

The case heads to court in early December. Given his upcoming dates in court, the timelines Levandowski laid out in Internal Revenue Service filings for his new church might be ambitious, Wired notes.

His plan calls for conducting workshops and educational programs for the church throughout the San Francisco this year.

He promised Wired he’s dead serious about this new project.

“What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” he told Wired. “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

Read more of his interview with Wired here.