Sunday, July 01, 2018 by David Williams
Are humans prepared to worship anything? Is it true that there are people out there who can look at the many religions already being practiced, think that none of those apply to them, and look for yet another one to try to belong in? According to some researchers, the answer is yes. Indeed, the seemingly innate drive that most people have, which makes them want to believe in a higher, more superior presence, is so pervasive that it may even work for a new kind of deity: Artificial Intelligence (AI).
In November of 2017, a former Uber and Google engineer started the very first church that follows a so-called artificially intelligent being. Its religion is called “Way of the Future” and claims that the human species can become better simply by following the instructions of a supreme being that’s actually a robot – one that’s “a billion times smarter” than humans. The name of the person that’s behind all this is Anthony Levandowski.
While it may seem weird and a bit nonsensical at first, there are some experts that believe in the viability of the idea behind it. AI expert and lawyer John Mitchell points to the tendency of humans to “worship supreme understanding” as a possible reason for wanting to worship AI or robots. In one interview, Mitchell was quoted as saying, “We [believe] there must be some higher power that causes lightning, sunsets, and crashing waves – or at least speaks to the bottom of our beings, rather than ignore them as ho-hum background.”
For that reason, Mitchell believes that the exact same thing could apply and happen with AI. He further notes that robots could eventually help us understand religion so much better than we currently do.
He isn’t the only one who would agree to these things. The President and CEO of Imagination Engines, Dr. Stephen Taler, says that people will one day rely on AI to solve problems in society. Dr. Thaler is an AI and consciousness expert that has a lot of related thoughts on the future of human civilization and artificial intelligence. He says that AI could eventually fill the role of the figurehead in a future religion that’s followed by humans.
“An AI would provide the equivalent of a ‘messiah’ – having many orders of magnitude more processing elements than the brain, enabling it to gift us with solutions to the most daunting social, political, economic, and environmental challenges,” said Thaler.
The only problem with that, in case it ever happens, is that an AI may get smart enough to perform those tasks for humans and may somehow choose not to be worshiped. This is according to author and consultant Peter Scott, who says, “I would expect the AIs that evolve in the next 50 years to be very rational and, if conscious, not want to be worshiped.”
Eventually, there may come a time when humans worship some form of full-blown AI robot, one which offers to solve their problems in every which way. But for now, the level of AI is not that sophisticated, despite all the apparent advancements in the field as well as the technology behind it. But looking at it from the perspective of centuries of civilized history, it’s really not that hard to imagine how such a religion can one day develop.
Read more stories about the role of artificial intelligence in people’s lives at Robotics.news.