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Life 3.0

Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

By Max Tegmark
13-minute read
Audio available
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

Life 3.0 (2017) is a tour through the current questions, ideas and research involved in the emerging field of artificial intelligence. Author Max Tegmark provides us a glimpse into the future, sketching out the possible scenarios that might transpire on earth. Humans might fuse with machines; we might bend machines to our will or, terrifyingly, intelligent machines could take over.

  • Artificial intelligence enthusiasts and physicists
  • Future gazers and philosophers
  • Nerds, geeks and science fiction fans

Max Tegmark is a professor of physics at MIT. He is president of the Future of Life Institute and has featured in various science documentaries. Tegmark is also the author of Our Mathematical Universe.

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Life 3.0

Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

By Max Tegmark
  • Read in 13 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 8 key ideas
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Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark
Synopsis

Life 3.0 (2017) is a tour through the current questions, ideas and research involved in the emerging field of artificial intelligence. Author Max Tegmark provides us a glimpse into the future, sketching out the possible scenarios that might transpire on earth. Humans might fuse with machines; we might bend machines to our will or, terrifyingly, intelligent machines could take over.

Key idea 1 of 8

AI could represent the future of life, but it’s a controversial subject.

The story of how life emerged on earth is well known. Some 13.8 billion years ago, the Big Bang brought our universe into being. Then, about four billion years ago, atoms on earth arranged themselves in such a way that they could maintain and replicate themselves. Life had arisen.

As the author posits, life can be classified into three categories according to levels of sophistication.

The first stage of life, Life 1.0, is simply biological.

Consider a bacterium. Every aspect of its behavior is coded into its DNA. It's impossible for it to learn or change its behavior over its lifetime. The closest it comes to learning or improvement is evolution, but that takes many generations.

The second stage is cultural, Life 2.0.

Humans are included here. Just like the bacterium, our “hardware” or bodies have evolved. But unlike simpler life-forms, we can acquire new knowledge during our lifetimes. Take learning a language. We can adapt and redesign ideas that we might call our “software.” And we make decisions using this knowledge.

The final stage is the theoretical Life 3.0, a form of technological life capable of designing both its hardware and software. Although such life doesn’t yet exist on earth, the emergence of non-biological intelligence in the form of AI technologies may soon change this.

Those who hold opinions about AI can be classified by how they feel about the emerging field’s effect on humanity.

First up are the digital utopians. They believe that artificial life is a natural and desirable next step in evolution.

Second, there are the techno-skeptics. As the name suggests, they don’t believe that artificial life will have an impact anytime soon.

Finally, there’s the beneficial AI movement. These people aren’t sold on the idea that AI will necessarily bring benefits to humans. They therefore advocate that AI research be specifically directed toward possible universally positive outcomes.

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