Developer who started a church to worship AI indicted for stealing AI

Developer who started a church to worship AI indicted for stealing AI

Anthony Levandowski, a former employee at Google sister company Waymo, today was charged with 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets after he allegedly stole more than 14,000 sensitive documents that eventually ended up in Uber‘s clutches.

You might recognize the case from a year-long civil battle over the same theft that resulted in Waymo being awarded nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of Uber stocks (Google’s lawyers must be amazing!). And, of course, you might recognize Levandowski as the AI engineer who started a church, The Way of The Future, that worships AI. Yep. That guy.

His big coming out as the steward for tomorrow’s gods (that’d be the AI) happened in a Wired article (pay-walled) where he gave a candid interview. Here’s a few snippets from the article curated by Business Insider:

The “Way of the Future” church will have its own gospel called “The Manual,” public worship ceremonies, and probably a physical place of worship.

The idea behind his religion is that one day — “not next week or next year” — sufficiently advanced artificial intelligence will be smarter than humans, and will effectively become a god.

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,” Levandowski 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.’”

You’ve got to respect someone with the foresight to see an impending change and the gumption to do something about it.

Which brings us to his current legal problems wherein he’s accused of having the foresight to nab 14,000-plus sensitive documents – most of which are allegedly related to LIDAR – from Waymo on his way out the door. He subsequently started his own AI company, Otto, which was bought by Uber.

His current company, Pronto AI, will replace him as CEO. The company told Tech Crunch he’d be replaced by chief safety officer Robbie Miller and issued the following statement:

The criminal charges filed against Anthony relate exclusively to LIDAR and do not in any way involve Pronto’s ground-breaking technology. Of course, we are fully supportive of Anthony and his family during this period.

Levandowski faces fines of up to $250K and the possibility of up to 10 years in prison if convicted – it’d be ironic if he were sentenced by an algorithm.

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