The technological stage

Life 3.0 opens with sentient AIs controlling news and media outlets.

Tegmark is a professor of physics at M.I.T., author of more than 200 scientific papers, and founder of the Future of Life Institute, an international group that advocates beneficial uses of artificial intelligence.

He believes thinking machines will reach and surpass human abilities sooner than we think. Such a future can provide an ‘astonishingly positive’ future, be believes, provided there is sufficient forethought by humans, beginning now. An alternate view is presented by a group he calls techno-skeptics, other AI researchers who believe an all-ability AI is too far away to warrant present attention.  

This book is his case for why we should be thinking about sentient AI now. He describes the questions for debate, why they are important, and the ways mankind can benefit as a result.

Tegmark’s central idea is organized around three stages:

  1. LIFE 1.0 (past): Evolution by biology –  life is pre-determined by DNA alone
  2. LIFE 2.0 (present): Evolution by intellect – life can redesign and update its own abilities; e.g. language, skills, culture
  3. LIFE 3.0 (future): Evolution by technology – life can dramatically redesign not only its ‘software’ but its ‘hardware’ as well

Life 3.0 drew a lot of notice and stir when it was published in 2017. The back jacket includes callouts from the distinguished journal Science and from AI luminary Stuart Russell writing in the prestigious journal Nature. There are endorsement blurbs by Professor Stephen Hawking, Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrum, Elon Musk, and others.

…it’s the most important conversation of our time. It’s the conversation about the collective future of all of us, so it shouldn’t be limited to AI researchers. That’s why I wrote this book.

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Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group | 2017 | by Max Tegmark

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