If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Nowadays, much of humanity's hopes are placed in the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is seen as a way to cure diseases, improve diagnostics or care for the environment. However, there are also many fears motivated by the possibility that the algorithms could end up escaping human control. In fact, some intellectual figures of the stature of the late physicist Stephen Hawking have reflected on the apocalyptic risk of these technologies, a warning that has been joined by others such as tech magnate Elon Musk and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet. While the debate continues, here is a series of developments in recent years that will neither save the world nor bring about its demise, but rather serve to entertain us with the more curious side of AI. Can the sexual orientation of people be detected by their appearance?
This article was published in The Stream (July 6, 2022) under the title "The Church of Artificial Intelligence of the Future" and is republished with permission. There is a church that worships artificial intelligence (AI). Zealots believe that an extraordinary AI future is inevitable. The technology is not here yet, but we are assured that it's coming. We will have the ability to be uploaded onto a computer and thereby achieve immortality.
There is a church that worships artificial intelligence (AI). Zealots believe that an extraordinary AI future is inevitable. The technology is not here yet, but we are assured that it's coming. We will have the ability to be uploaded onto a computer and thereby achieve immortality. You will be reborn into a new, immortal silicon body.
Waymo and Uber have signed a long-term, strategic partnership to collaborate on long-haul autonomous trucking. The idea is to help customers deploy autonomous trucks more efficiently. Those who buy trucks equipped with the Waymo Driver system will be able to tap into Uber Freight's marketplace technology, meaning they'll be able to deploy vehicles on the latter's network for deliveries. Uber Freight is essentially a version of the regular Uber app designed for shippers, which helps them find truck drivers for on-demand haulage. Waymo Via -- the company's trucking division -- plans to earmark billions of miles of goods-only driverless delivery capacity for the Uber Freight network.
Here's some news that's likely to give Elon Musk a heart attack: a former Google engineer has founded a religious organization that seeks to "develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence." Anthony Levandowski co-founded self-driving trucking company Otto, which Uber acquired for $680 million in 2016. He became head of engineering for the ride-hailing firm's autonomous vehicle division, and made headlines after being fired in May following allegations he stole trade secrets from former employer Google. It seems Levandowski could now become more famous for his nonprofit religious entity, called Way of the Future, which he founded in September 2015. Wired's Backchannel discovered previously unreported state filings that reveal the corporation aims "through understanding and worship of the Godhead, [to] contribute to the betterment of society."
The Way of the Future, a church founded by a former Google and Uber engineer, is now a thing of the past. It's been a few months since the world's first AI-focused church shuttered its digital doors, and it doesn't look like its founder has any interest in a revival. But it's a pretty safe bet we'll be seeing more robo-centric religious groups in the future. Perhaps, however, they won't be about worshipping the machines themselves. The world's first AI church "The Way of the Future," was the brainchild of Anthony Levandowski, a former autonomous vehicle developer who was convicted on 33 counts of theft and attempted theft of trade secrets. In the wake of his conviction, Levandowski was sentenced to 18 months in prison but his sentence was delayed due to COVID and, before he could be ordered to serve it, former president Donald Trump pardoned him.
Remember that artificial intelligence-worshipping church, the Way of the Future? Well, first of all: Yes, that existed. But secondly, founder Anthony Levandowski told TechCrunch this week that he has now decided to dissolve the church and donate all of its funds -- just over $175,000 -- to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Levandowski still supports the church's mission to responsibly develop and support artificial general intelligence, but he said he was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to do something with a more immediate impact. "I wanted to donate to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund because it's doing really important work in criminal justice reform and I know the money will be put to good use," Levandowski told TechCrunch.
Where have you gone, Godhead? Forgiveness is a spiritual, religious concept. As a child, I used to go to Catholic confession and tell the priest I'd sworn and stepped on a spider. I'd wait for the priest to absolve me and then ask whether I'd been taking sneak peeks at Playboy. So when I heard that former President Donald Trump had pardoned former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, my thoughts were only religious.
Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.
Last year Anthony Levandowski pleaded guilty to one count of stealing materials from Google, where he was an engineer for its self-driving car efforts before leaving to found a startup that he sold to Uber. The judge said during his sentencing that his theft of documents and emails constituted the "biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen." Now, on the last day of Donald Trump's administration, Trump issued a series of pardons -- the Department of Justice has more information on how those work here -- and commutations that covered people who worked on his campaign like Steve Bannon and Elliott Broidy, as well as Levandowski. A press release from the White House noted tech billionaires Peter Thiel and Palmer Luckey were among those supporting a pardon for Levandowski, and it makes the claim that this engineer "paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good." It also noted that his plea covered only a single charge, omitting mention of the 33 charges he'd been indicted on.