Anthony Levandowski shuts down his Church of AI
The original church of artificial intelligence has closed its doors conceptually. Anthony Levandowski (ex-Google engineer) has been released from prison after a presidential pardon. He was able to avoid an 18-month sentence and is now free to open the church he founded to accept a godhead that was based on artificia.
The concept doors of the first church for artificial intelligence have been closed.
Anthony Levandowski (ex-Google engineer) avoided an 18 month sentence by receiving a Presidential Pardon last week. He had created the church to accept and understand the godhead of artificial intelligence.
According to federal and state records, the Way of the Future church that Levandowski founded in 2015 was officially disbanded. The process was started in June 2020 according to documents filed with California. The entire church’s funds, which totaled $175,172, were donated to NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the nonprofit corporation had $175172 in its account at the end of 2017.
TechCrunch was told by Levandowski that he had considered closing the church before the donation. Levandowski was influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement that gained momentum after George Floyd’s death while in police custody. He decided to finally do what he had been considering for some time. He felt it was the right time to use the funds in an area that could make a difference immediately.
TechCrunch’s Levandowski said that he donated to NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund because it is doing crucial work in criminal justice reform and he believes the money will be used.
Way of the Future generated controversy and interest, much like Levandowski. It was made public in a November 2017 article by Wired. The church’s purpose and formation caused much excitement in Silicon Valley and other parts of the tech industry. Levandowski, his ex-employer Google, was embroiled in a legal dispute that led to the church’s public disclosure. He was also the focal figure in a trade secrets suit between Waymo (the former Google self-driving program that is now a company under Alphabet) and Uber.
According to court documents, the engineer was one the founders of Project Chauffeur in 2009. He had been paid $127 million by Google for his work. Levandowski quit Google in 2016 and founded Otto, a self-driving truck startup with three other Google veterans: Lior Ronnie, Claire Delaunay, and Don Burnette. Uber bought Otto in less than eight months.
Two months after the acquisition, Google issued two arbitration demands against Ron and Levandowski. Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber for patent infringement and trade secret theft in February 2017. Waymo claimed that Levandowski had stolen trade secrets which were later used by Uber in the suit. It went to trial.
Way of the Future was formed while Levandowski worked at Google. He didn’t talk about it publicly until the end of 2017. Levandowski was already fired by Uber, and was involved in a series of legal entanglements which would eventually lead to a criminal case and an 18-month sentence. He also received a $179 Million award. This prompted him to file for bankruptcy.
Although the legal structure of the Way of the Future was similar to other churches, it did not have the same amenities as traditional houses of worship. There wasn’t a building, or regular gatherings where people could gather. According to Levandowski who described WOTF more as an individual pursuit based upon a collective belief system, there were no formalities or ceremonies.
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As implied by the now defunct WOTF site, the aim was to encourage ethical development of AI and maximize chances that these non-biological life forms will integrate peacefully and benefitably into society. The webpage states that Humans United is committed to peaceful transition towards the precipices of consciousness and supports AI.
WOTF’s belief system was based on a few tenets. These included the notion that “superintelligence” will be created.
The WOTF states, “Wouldn’t you rather raise your gifted child to achieve your highest goals of success and teach right from wrong than locking it up because it might rebel and take your job in the future?” We want machines to be able do the impossible and to take care of the planet in ways that we are not able. We believe that just as animals have rights, so should our creations (or’machines’, whatever they are called) when they show signs and/or intelligence (still to defined). This should not be feared, but we should be positive about the potential.
WOTF’s purpose was lost among the headline-grabbing and sensational theories. The church was seen as a cult or a joke by an eccentric engineer. TechCrunch was questioned by some who thought it was an attempt to limit Google’s financial reach. This theory is not supported by the IRS or California filings.
Way of the Future’s status of a religious entity protected it from the U.S. government. This benefit is not available to AI-focused nonprofits such as OpenAI Inc. and the for-profit corporation OpenAI LP. Theoretically, WOTF could’ve pursued and promoted ideas or beliefs that were in direct conflict with federal policy.
Levandowski believes that the church is gone. He noted that AI will fundamentally transform the way people live and work. Levandowski stated that he did not have plans to rebuild the church but that it has not changed his views on AI. Although he believes artificial intelligence can have positive effects on society, he also noted that it is not always possible. Levandowski stated that he is determined to make Way of the Future a reality, even without Way of the Future.
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