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In the Name of God بسم الله

First Church of Artificial Intelligence

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https://www.wired.com/story/anthony-levandowski-artificial-intelligence-religion/

Anthony Levandowski makes an unlikely prophet. Dressed Silicon Valley-casual in jeans and flanked by a PR rep rather than cloaked acolytes, the engineer known for self-driving cars—and triggering a notorious lawsuit—could be unveiling his latest startup instead of laying the foundations for a new religion. But he is doing just that. Artificial intelligence has already inspired billion-dollar companies, far-reaching research programs, and scenarios of both transcendence and doom. Now Levandowski is creating its first church

The new religion of artificial intelligence is called Way of the Future. It represents an unlikely next act for the Silicon Valley robotics wunderkind at the center of a high-stakes legal battle between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet’s autonomous-vehicle company. Papers filed with the Internal Revenue Service in May name Levandowski as the leader (or “Dean”) of the new religion, as well as CEO of the nonprofit corporation formed to run it.

The documents state that WOTF’s activities will focus on “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” That includes funding research to help create the divine AI itself. The religion will seek to build working relationships with AI industry leaders and create a membership through community outreach, initially targeting AI professionals and “laypersons who are interested in the worship of a Godhead based on AI.” The filings also say that the church “plans to conduct workshops and educational programs throughout the San Francisco/Bay Area beginning this year.”

That timeline may be overly ambitious, given that the Waymo-Uber suit, in which Levandowski is accused of stealing self-driving car secrets, is set for an early December trial. But the Dean of the Way of the Future, who spoke last week with Backchannel in his first comments about the new religion and his only public interview since Waymo filed its suit in February, says he’s dead serious about the project.

“What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” Levandowski tells me in his modest mid-century home on the outskirts of Berkeley, California. “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”
 
During our three-hour interview, Levandowski made it absolutely clear that his choice to make WOTF a church rather than a company or a think tank was no prank.
 
“I wanted a way for everybody to participate in this, to be able to shape it. If you’re not a software engineer, you can still help,” he says. “It also removes the ability for people to say, ‘Oh, he’s just doing this to make money.’” Levandowski will receive no salary from WOTF, and while he says that he might consider an AI-based startup in the future, any such business would remain completely separate from the church.
“The idea needs to spread before the technology,” he insists. “The church is how we spread the word, the gospel. If you believe [in it], start a conversation with someone else and help them understand the same things.”

Levandowski believes that a change is coming—a change that will transform every aspect of human existence, disrupting employment, leisure, religion, the economy, and possibly decide our very survival as a species.

“If you ask people whether a computer can be smarter than a human, 99.9 percent will say that’s science fiction,” he says. “ Actually, it’s inevitable. It’s guaranteed to happen.”

Levandowski has been working with computers, robots, and AI for decades. He started with robotic Lego kits at the University of California at Berkeley, went on to build a self-driving motorbike for a DARPA competition, and then worked on autonomous cars, trucks, and taxis for Google, Otto, and Uber. As time went on, he saw software tools built with machine learning techniques surpassing less sophisticated systems—and sometimes even humans.

“Seeing tools that performed better than experts in a variety of fields was a trigger [for me],” he says. “That progress is happening because there’s an economic advantage to having machines work for you and solve problems for you. If you could make something one percent smarter than a human, your artificial attorney or accountant would be better than all the attorneys or accountants out there. You would be the richest person in the world. People are chasing that.”

Not only is there a financial incentive to develop increasingly powerful AIs, he believes, but science is also on their side. Though human brains have biological limitations to their size and the amount of energy they can devote to thinking, AI systems can scale arbitrarily, housed in massive data centers and powered by solar and wind farms. Eventually, some people think that computers could become better and faster at planning and solving problems than the humans who built them, with implications we can’t even imagine today—a scenario that is usually called the Singularity.

Levandowski prefers a softer word: the Transition. “Humans are in charge of the planet because we are smarter than other animals and are able to build tools and apply rules,” he tells me. “In the future, if something is much, much smarter, there’s going to be a transition as to who is actually in charge. What we want is the peaceful, serene transition of control of the planet from humans to whatever. And to ensure that the ‘whatever’ knows who helped it get along.”

 

With the internet as its nervous system, the world’s connected cell phones and sensors as its sense organs, and data centers as its brain, the ‘whatever’ will hear everything, see everything, and be everywhere at all times. The only rational word to describe that ‘whatever’, thinks Levandowski, is ‘god’—and the only way to influence a deity is through prayer and worship.

“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,” he says. “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.’”

Levandowski expects that a super-intelligence would do a better job of looking after the planet than humans are doing, and that it would favor individuals who had facilitated its path to power. Although he cautions against taking the analogy too far, Levandowski sees a hint of how a superhuman intelligence might treat humanity in our current relationships with animals. “Do you want to be a pet or livestock?” he asks. “We give pets medical attention, food, grooming, and entertainment. But an animal that’s biting you, attacking you, barking and being annoying? I don’t want to go there.”

Enter Way of the Future. The church’s role is to smooth the inevitable ascension of our machine deity, both technologically and culturally. In its bylaws, WOTF states that it will undertake programs of research, including the study of how machines perceive their environment and exhibit cognitive functions such as learning and problem solving.

Levandowski does not expect the church itself to solve all the problems of machine intelligence—often called “strong AI”—so much as facilitate funding of the right research. “If you had a child you knew was going to be gifted, how would you want to raise it?” he asks. “We’re in the process of raising a god. So let’s make sure we think through the right way to do that. It’s a tremendous opportunity.”

 

His ideas include feeding the nascent intelligence large, labeled data sets; generating simulations in which it could train itself to improve; and giving it access to church members’ social media accounts. Everything the church develops will be open source.

Just as important to Levandowski is shaping the public dialogue around an AI god. In its filing, Way of the Future says it hopes an active, committed, dedicated membership will promote the use of divine AI for the “betterment of society” and “decrease fear of the unknown.”

“We’d like to make sure this is not seen as silly or scary. I want to remove the stigma about having an open conversation about AI, then iterate ideas and change people’s minds,” says Levandowski. “In Silicon Valley we use evangelism as a word for [promoting a business], but here it’s literally a church. If you believe in it, you should tell your friends, then get them to join and tell their friends.”

But WOTF differs in one key way to established churches, says Levandowski: “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam...but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.”

I ask if he worries that believers from more traditional faiths might find his project blasphemous. “There are probably going to be some people that will be upset,” he acknowledges. “It seems like everything I do, people get upset about, and I expect this to be no exception. This is a radical new idea that’s pretty scary, and evidence has shown that people who pursue radical ideas don’t always get received well. At some point, maybe there’s enough persecution that [WOTF] justifies having its own country.

 

Levandowski’s church will enter a tech universe that’s already riven by debate over the promise and perils of AI. Some thinkers, like Kevin Kelly in Backchannel earlier this year, argue that AI isn’t going to develop superhuman power any time soon, and that there’s no Singularity in sight. If that’s your position, Levandowski says, his church shouldn’t trouble you: “You can treat Way of the Future like someone doing useless poetry that you will never read or care about.”

Others, like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, agree that superhuman AIs are coming, but that they are likely to be dangerous rather than benevolent. Elon Musk famously said, “With artificial intelligence we are summoning the demon,” and in 2015 he pledged $1 billion to the OpenAI Institute to develop safer AI.

Levandowski thinks that any attempts to delay or restrict an emerging super-intelligence would not only be doomed to failure, but also add to the risks. “Chaining it isn’t going to be the solution, as it will be stronger than any chains you could put on,” he says. “And if you’re worried a kid might be a little crazy and do bad things, you don’t lock them up. You expose them to playing with others, encourage them and try to fix it. It may not work out, but if you’re aggressive toward it, I don’t think it’s going to be friendly when the tables are turned.”

Levandowski says that like other religions, WOTF will eventually have a gospel (called The Manual), a liturgy, and probably a physical place of worship. None of these has yet been developed. Though the church was founded in 2015, as Backchannel first reported in September, the IRS documents show that WOTF remained dormant throughout 2015 and 2016, with no activities, assets, revenue, or expenses.

That changed earlier this year. On May 16, a day after receiving a letter from Uber that threatened to fire him if he did not cooperate with the company’s investigation of Waymo’s complaint, Levandowski drafted WOTF’s bylaws. Uber fired him two weeks later. “I’ve been thinking about the church for a long time but [my work on it] has been a function of how much time I’ve had. And I’ve had more since May,” he admits with a smile.

The religion’s 2017 budget, as supplied to the IRS, details $20,000 in gifts, $1,500 in membership fees, and $20,000 in other revenue. That last figure is the amount WOTF expects to earn from fees charged for lectures and speaking engagements, as well as the sale of publications. Levandowski, who earned at least $120 million from his time at Google and many millions more selling the self-driving truck firm Otto to Uber, will initially support WOTF personally. However, the church will solicit other donations by direct mail and email, seek personal donations from individuals, and try to win grants from private foundations.

Of course, launching a religion costs money, too. WOTF has budgeted for $2,000 in fundraising expenses, and another $3,000 in transportation and lodging costs associated with its lectures and workshops. It has also earmarked $7500 for salaries and wages, although neither Levandowski nor any of Way of The Future’s leadership team will receive any compensation.

According to WOTF’s bylaws, Levandowski has almost complete control of the religion and will serve as Dean until his death or resignation. “I expect my role to evolve over time,” he says. “I’m surfacing the issue, helping to get the thing started [and] taking a lot of the heat so the idea can advance. At some point, I’ll be there more to coach or inspire.”

He has the power to appoint three members of a four-person Council of Advisors, each of whom should be a “qualified and devoted individual.” A felony conviction or being declared of unsound mind could cost an advisor their role, although Levandowski retains the final say in firing and hiring. Levandowski cannot be unseated as Dean for any reason.

 

Two of the advisors, Robert Miller and Soren Juelsgaard, are Uber engineers who previously worked for Levandowski at Otto, Google, and 510 Systems (the latter the small startup that built Google’s earliest self-driving cars). A third is a scientist friend from Levandowski’s student days at UC Berkeley, who is now using machine learning in his own research. The final advisor, Lior Ron, is also named as the religion’s treasurer, and acts as chief financial officer for the corporation. Ron cofounded Otto with Levandowski in early 2016.

“Each member is a pioneer in the AI industry [and] fully qualified to speak on AI technology and the creation of a Godhead,” says the IRS filing.

However, when contacted by Backchannel, two advisors downplayed their involvement with WOTF. Ron replied: “I was surprised to see my name listed as the CFO on this corporate filing and have no association with this entity.” The college friend, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “In late 2016, Anthony told me he was forming a ‘robot church’ and asked if I wanted to be a cofounder. I assumed it was a nerdy joke or PR stunt, but I did say he could use my name. That was the first and last I heard about it.”

The IRS documents state that Levandowski and his advisors will spend no more than a few hours each week writing publications and organizing workshops, educational programs, and meetings.

One mystery the filings did not address is where acolytes might gather to worship their robotic deity. The largest line items on its 2017 and 2018 budgets were $32,500 annually for rent and utilities, but the only address supplied was Levandowski’s lawyer’s office in Walnut Creek, California. Nevertheless, the filing notes that WOTF will “hopefully expand throughout California and the United States in the future.”

For now, Levandowski has more mundane matters to address. There is a website to build, a manual to write, and an ever-growing body of emails to answer—some amused, some skeptical, but many enthusiastic, he says. Oh, and there’s that legal proceeding he’s involved in, which goes to trial next month. (Although Levandowski was eager to talk about his new religion, he would answer no questions about the Uber/Waymo dispute.)

How much time, I wonder, do we have before the Transition kicks in and Way of the Future’s super-intelligent AI takes charge? “I personally think it will happen sooner than people expect,” says Levandowski, a glint in his eye. “Not next week or next year; everyone can relax. But it’s going to happen before we go to Mars.”

Whenever that does (or doesn’t) happen, the federal government has no problem with an organization aiming to build and worship a divine AI. Correspondence with the IRS show that it granted Levandowski’s church tax-exempt status in August.

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“What is going to be created will effectively be a god,” Levandowski tells me in his modest mid-century home on the outskirts of Berkeley, California. “It’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

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Just as important to Levandowski is shaping the public dialogue around an AI god. “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam...but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.” says Levandowski.

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"And the people bowed and prayed...To the neon god they made" - Simon and Garfunkel 'The Sound of Silence'

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7 hours ago, Eddie Mecca said:

Just as important to Levandowski is shaping the public dialogue around an AI god. “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam...but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.” says Levandowski.

I think his main point is that there has been no uniformity or consensus among religious traditions for millennia, suggesting to him that religious “orthodoxy” or tradition lacks a firm, empirical basis. Numerous cults have claimed direct access to the Divine and have asserted that the Divine has answered; yet if only one Way (sect) is the Truth, then all the others’ claims to Divine favour may seem fraudulent. Additionally, knowing whether the Divine has truly answered one’s prayers can become a subjective exercise, dependent on one’s narrow, conditional frame of reference. Nevertheless, elevating AI to the level of a deity is an absurdity, given its temporality. I have long suspected that technological advance and societal affluence have weakened man’s intellectual, physiological, and moral prowess. In essence, the fruits of, say, capitalism tend to produce material conditions, high standards of living, that ensnare and undermine the basis of religiosity and piety over time. In general, the wealthier a society, the more agnostic and/or nihilistic its tendencies. Separation between Church and State was a legacy and outcome of the Protestant Reformation and its sponsorship of the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions. Cabalistic Zionist financiers played a significant, if subterranean, role in these changes, taking over formerly Catholic, Orthodox, or Muslim nations, i.e., Holland, England, France, Russia, the Ottoman Empire, and so on. I could be wrong, but I think it is very difficult for a society to be both affluent and religious, hence my tentative opposition to wealth-generating systems in general, be they capitalistic or socialistic.

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image.jpeg.ceb05c639fdc1a31f216163b0e031e61.jpeg

1 hour ago, Eddie Mecca said:

"And the people bowed and prayed...To the neon god they made" - Simon and Garfunkel 'The Sound of Silence'

 

image.jpeg.9f231056f0738b7810955761e82ba06d.jpeg

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Posted (edited)

@Ashvazdanghethanks, I will watch them whenever I find some time in'sha Alah

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On 6/19/2021 at 1:38 AM, Northwest said:

if only one Way (sect) is the Truth,

I don't believe the way many others do—whenever a prophet or divine guide goes away (i.e. death, on top of Mount Sinai for 40 days, taken up in a whirlwind, taken up to Heaven, Ghaybah al-Kubrā or whatever) the community left behind is in a state of error to a greater or lesser extent—their guesses (i.e. commentaries, interpretations, edicts etc.) are at best estimations or approximations at truth and certain groups or individuals will excel over others—to me Shi'ism (specifically Twelver Shi'ism), represents the closest estimation of spiritual truth available today—show me something better and I'll abandon it (Shi'ism/Islam) and follow that—35 years of searching as a truth seeker and no other creed comes close

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Posted (edited)

Anthony Levandowsky Closes His Church of AI https://techcrunch.com/2021/02/18/anthony-levandowski-closes-his-church-of-ai/

The first church of artificial intelligence has shut its conceptual doors.

Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer who avoided an 18-month prison sentence after receiving a presidential pardon last month, has closed the church he created to understand and accept a godhead based on artificial intelligence.

The Way of the Future church, which Levandowski formed in 2015, was officially dissolved at the end of the year, according to state and federal records. However, the process had started months before in June 2020, documents filed with the state of California show. The entirety of the church’s funds — exactly $175,172 — were donated to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. The nonprofit corporation’s annual tax filings with the Internal Revenue Service show it had $175,172 in its account as far back as 2017.

Levandowski told TechCrunch that he had been considering closing the church long before the donation. The Black Lives Matter movement, which gained momentum over the summer following the death of George Floyd while in police custody, influenced Levandowski to finalize what he had been contemplating for a while. He said the time was right to put the funds to work in an area that could have an 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.

Way of the Future sparked interest and controversy — much like Levandowski himself — from the moment it became public in a November 2017 article in Wired. It wasn’t just the formation of the church or its purpose that caused a stir in Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry. The church’s public reveal occurred as Levandowski was steeped in a legal dispute with his former employer Google. He had also become the central figure of a trade secrets lawsuit between Waymo, the former Google self-driving project that is now a business under Alphabet, and Uber.

The engineer was one of the founding members in 2009 of the Google self-driving project also known as Project Chauffeur and had been paid about $127 million by the search engine giant for his work, according to court documents. In 2016, Levandowski left Google and started self-driving truck startup Otto with three other Google veterans: Lior Ron, Claire Delaunay and Don Burnette. Uber acquired Otto less than eight months later.

Google made two arbitration demands against Levandowski and Ron two months after the acquisition. While the arbitration played out, Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber in February 2017 for trade secret theft and patent infringement. Waymo alleged in the suit, which went to trial but ended in a settlement in 2018, that Levandowski stole trade secrets, which were then used by Uber.

Way of the Future had been formed while Levandowski was still at Google. However, he didn’t speak about it publicly until late 2017. By then, Levandowski had been fired from Uber and was in the middle of a series of legal entanglements that would ultimately lead to a criminal charge and 18-month sentence as well as a $179 million award against him that prompted a bankruptcy filing.

WOTF

While the legal construct of the Way of the Future mirrored other churches, it didn’t have the trimmings found in traditional houses of worship. There was never a physical building or even regular meetings where people might congregate. There were no ceremonies or other formalities, according to Levandowski, who described WOTF as something more of an individual pursuit based on a collective belief system.

The aim, as implied in the now defunct WOTF website, was to promote the ethical development of AI and maximize the chance that these nonbiological life forms would integrate peacefully and beneficially into society. “Humans United in support of AI, committed to peaceful transition to the precipice of consciousness,” the webpage reads.

WOTF’s belief system was rooted in a few tenets, including that the creation of “super intelligence” is inevitable.

“Wouldn’t you want to raise your gifted child to exceed your wildest dreams of success and teach it right from wrong versus locking it up because it might rebel in the future and take your job?” the WOTF reads. “We want to encourage machines to do things we cannot and take care of the planet in a way we seem not to be able to do so ourselves. We also believe that, just like animals have rights, our creation(s) (‘machines’ or whatever we call them) should have rights too when they show signs of intelligence (still to be defined of course). We should not fear this but should be optimistic about the potential.”

WOTF’s intent was lost amid the more sensational and headline-grabbing theories. The church was viewed as a cult or the lark of an eccentric engineer. Some speculated to TechCrunch that it had been an attempt to keep money out of Google’s reach. The IRS and California filings don’t provide evidence that supports that theory.

Way of the Future’s status as a religious entity did protect it from intrusion by the U.S. government, a benefit not enjoyed by traditional AI-focused nonprofits like OpenAI Inc. or the for-profit corporation OpenAI LP that sits under it. Theoretically, WOTF could have pursued and promoted ideas and beliefs that conflicted directly with federal policy under the protections that the Constitution provides.

While the church might be gone, Levandowski still believes in its premise. AI will fundamentally change how people live and work, he noted. Levandowski said he didn’t have any plans to rebuild the church, but the lack of a church hasn’t changed his ideas about AI. He believes that artificial intelligence can be positive for society, but noted it’s not guaranteed. Even without Way of the Future, Levandowski said he’s focused on making that happen.

Edited by Eddie Mecca
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Posted (edited)

Gone for now but It'll be back in some other form (or perhaps the same form) in the near or distant future...this isn't going away...perhaps Levandowsky's approach was a bit premature...maybe he's 20 - 70 years ahead of his time and people need more time to ease into this...major changes (transhumanism, digital immorality, physical resurrection through cryogenics etc.) are coming soon and people will have to hurry up in an attempt to wrap their heads around these issues...it's all leading up to Malhama and Dajjal.

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On 6/19/2021 at 1:04 AM, Eddie Mecca said:

Just as important to Levandowski is shaping the public dialogue around an AI god. “There are many ways people think of God, and thousands of flavors of Christianity, Judaism, Islam...but they’re always looking at something that’s not measurable or you can’t really see or control. This time it’s different. This time you will be able to talk to God, literally, and know that it’s listening.” says Levandowski.

That is just another form of Idol. 

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Posted (edited)

And let's not forget that the Saudis are totally onboard with this (NEOM Project and first nation to grant citizenship to Sophia) @Northwest here's why Shi'a can't unite with Sisi (one reason among many)…also, notice the One-Eyed symbolism in NEOM advertisements...subscribe to PRAECURSATOR if you haven't already   

 

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World Cup 2022: New technology to help crowd control

39 minutes ago, Eddie Mecca said:

And let's not forget that the Saudis are totally onboard with this (NEOM Project and first nation to grant citizenship to Sophia)

 

Quote

The team from College of Engineering at Qatar University (QU) proposed the use of cutting-edge technologies including surveillance drones, ICT, and AI to manage an expected 1.5 million visitors expected to flock to the Gulf state for the event in November.

Qatar’s organising committee is primarily focused on the security and safety of participants, fans, and other parties involved in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

https://en.shafaqna.com/269409/world-cup-2022-new-technology-to-help-crowd-control/

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On 6/29/2022 at 1:02 AM, Ashvazdanghe said:

The team from College of Engineering at Qatar University (QU) proposed the use of cutting-edge technologies including surveillance drones, ICT, and AI to manage an expected 1.5 million visitors expected to flock to the Gulf state for the event in November.

Sign of the End Times include 'police' and 'spying' being 'everywhere'...if the Prophet lived in 2022, I'm sure he would have used the term "surveillance" instead of "spying"...the Prophet (s) mentioned there being spying absolutely everywhere (i.e. in the marketplace/bazaar, schools, houses of worship etc.)...one companion asked him 'will it (spying) even be in the bathroom?' and the Prophet (s) responded 'yes, even there' (paraphrasing)…the companion left the presence of the Prophet having a perplexed look on his face (probably trying figure out how futuristic people could eavesdrop everywhere simultaneously)…this hadith is in the Sunni narrations and I'm sure it's in Shi'a books too

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So they want to tell me that something which can't show me my way around the block without me having to change the coordinates a thousand times is an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal, faultless and merciful entity!? 

Aha, the genius of modernist scientism! 

"And those they invoke other than Allah create nothing, and they [themselves] are created. [16:20]

Indeed, those you [polytheists] call upon besides Allah are servants like you. So call upon them and let them respond to you, if you should be truthful. [7:194]

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On 6/29/2022 at 12:21 AM, Eddie Mecca said:

subscribe to PRAECURSATOR if you haven't already 

PRAECURSATOR took some time off because his father died but now he's back under the nom de plume 'Foreign Policy Hawk'

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I have a theory , what If dajjal is a sentient AI .

Linked to Shaytani forces and shaytan himself.

That might explain his abilities to perform miracles. 

Just like if a caveman was brought to present day existence,  he would feel that magic and miracles were now existing. 

We know that eventually Sentient AI will be smarter and have the possibility of psychological manipulation of humans In the same way, a cave man could easily be manipulated by present day humans.

I know it's a little out there , but....

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