A.I. gets its own religion, citizenship, and more

Smart devices are becoming an increasingly popular part of the family, with Zs using them not only for tactical tasks like doing their math homework or ordering toys and cookies without their parents’ knowledge but for emotional ones as well, like mediating arguments and entertaining friends. This close relationship is making A.I.-powered devices feel more humanlike to Zs, and they’re not alone in this mindset—individuals, governments, and brands are making moves to further humanize A.I. and even treat it as though it were alive.


One of the engineers behind Google's self-driving car has established a nonprofit religious corporation with one main aim: to create a deity with artificial intelligence. The first church of A.I., called Way of the Future, hopes to create a peaceful and respectful transition for who is in charge of the planet, from people to people and “machines.” The church was founded by Anthony Levandowski, who is currently embroiled in lawsuits with his former nanny and with a former employer over allegations he stole trade secrets. Levandowski wants to encourage people to integrate these “machines” into society and help form a path for them to eventually lead so that the process can be amicable and non-confrontational. 


Saudi Arabia has officially recognized an intelligent humanoid robot as a citizen, marking the first time in history that an A.I. device has been awarded such status. Sophia the robot, created by Hanson Robotics, announced the citizenship herself during a panel discussion at the Future Investment Initiative conference in Saudi Arabia. Per Dezeen, the citizenship system could work in a similar way to the "personhood" status proposed by European Parliament in 2017, which would see robots with A.I. given rights and responsibilities.


BMW board director Peter Schwarzenbauer predicts that human-driven cars will be banned in urban areas by around 2030 to reduce accidents and improve road-use efficiency. Prepping for this future, BMW is already exploring ways to overcome human resistance to the notion of being inside a robot by working with psychologists to help self-driving cars “befriend” passengers to help make people feel safe. The announcement followed the launch of the company’s Vision Next 100 concept in 2017, which included a digital "Companion" that assists the driver.