For the past few years, it has seemed as if the pages of the science fiction novels and the storylines from the comic books that fueled our imaginations as children and teenagers are no longer just fantastical tales of intrigue and mystery. The technology that seemed illusory just a decade ago is now readily available for purchase and dominates our lives, our entertainment and eerily the minds of this generation. No longer are robots, cyborgs, artificial intelligence, facial mapping and recognition merely plots in an action movie.
“What is going to be created will effectively be a god. It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lighting or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”
These are the chilling words of futurist Anthony Levandowski, found in a British news source (Dailystar.co.uk). Levandowski is a thirty-something, multi-millionaire engineer whose day job has been computerized transportation, self-driving vehicles. But, as if he’s trying to get first dibs on the latest startup, he has turned his sights on what one might call “singularity” of God. When Vinge and Kurzweil began using the term “singularity” to describe the merger of biology and computer technology and the exponential change it would ultimately create, I am dubious to believe that even they could have foreseen the concept used to describe a “godbot.” Yet, Levandowski is not just thinking about creating an artificial intelligence deity but an entire religion.
In August of 2017, Levandowski’s Way of the Future (WOTF) was registered and granted tax-exempt status by the federal government. This church is dedicated to creating “divine” artificial intelligence that followers will develop and then worship. Its church documents state the objective is: “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence developed through computer hardware and software” (Wired, Nov. 2017). He states: “We’re in the process of raising a god…It’s a tremendous opportunity.”
The discontent of the human heart and deprivation of the Spirit has created among men an insatiable lust for the work of their own hands. These experiments are modern culture’s reality. They are headline news and the ethical dilemmas and moral pitfalls that accompany them are being trampled over as quickly and as mindlessly as Black Friday shoppers rushing through a shopping center – there’s no real need, per se, yet a growing, frantic desire pushes people forward in a great chase for who knows what?
“And the loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish. And they shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, for fear of the Lord, and for the glory of his majesty, when he ariseth to shake terribly the earth. In that day a man shall cast his idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats” (Isaiah 2:17-20).