Can open source data create an AI deity?

06 : 12 : 2017 Technology : Digital : Artificial Intelligence
Aleksandra Szymanska for The Future Laboratory Aleksandra Szymanska for The Future Laboratory

Open source is the way forward for creating machine intelligence that benefits, rather than crushes humanity.

Rebecca Coleman, senior writer, The Future Laboratory

Prominent autonomous-car engineer Anthony Levandowski recently announced the formation of a new religion with artificial intelligence (AI) as its deity. The key belief of Way of the Future is that AI will become god-like in its superiority to mankind and now is the time to start begging for benevolence before singularity hits. ‘We’re in the process of raising a god,’ he told Wired. ‘So, let’s make sure we think through the right way to do that. It’s a tremendous opportunity.’

In order to make the most of this opportunity, Way of the Future will be an open source organisation, harnessing big data and simulation programmes to help the AI gods evolve. While the new religion might be alone in its desire to turn data into deity, it is not alone in believing that open source is the way forward for creating machine intelligence that benefits, rather than crushes humanity.

Around the same time that Levandowski announced his plans for Way of the Future, The Linux Foundation announced a collaboration with telecommunications companies AT&T and Tech Mahindra on a new platform for the open-source development of AI. Meanwhile, Hanson Robotics – the company behind sophisticated humanoid robot Sophia – has set up SingularityNET, which will employ Blockchain technology to ‘let anyone monetise AI, allowing companies, organisations, and developers to buy and sell AI at scale.’

There is now an opportunity to try and steer artificial intelligence's development in the right direction via open dialogue and co-creation.

As a society – however uneasy it might make us feel – we have become accustomed to the idea of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs playing god. Creating technology in their own image, regardless of whether people actually want it or not and attempting to innovate to a point where homo sapiens lose their place at the top of the evolutionary tree.

At least through his aspirations to create an open source church for the advancement and worship of AI, Levandowski – alongside his peers at SingularityNET and The Linux Foundation – is aiming for AI that operates for the good of the many, not just a few tech billionaires. Rather than trying to play god, he is trying to create one that might actually save us from ourselves. While no one can predict how super intelligent machines might regard us mere mortal humans, there is now an opportunity to try and steer their development in the right direction via open dialogue and co-creation.

For more information on how AI is impacting both the home and the workplace, read our Neo-kinship macrotrend and our Brand Culture 2020 report.