Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

How will Artificial Intelligence affect crime, war, justice, jobs, society and our very sense of being human? The rise of AI has the potential to transform our future more than any other technology—and there’s nobody better qualified or situated to explore that future than Max Tegmark, an MIT professor who’s helped mainstream research on how to keep AI beneficial.
 
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3 Responses to Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

  1. Angie Boyter says:
    7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    The future of life and how to get there, September 4, 2017
    By 
    Angie Boyter (Ellicott City, MD USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      

    In Life 3.0 MIT professor Max Tegmark explores the future of Artificial Intelligence and how it will affect all aspects of Life. The scope is not limited to whether we will have robotic assistants (or masters) in the next 100 years; one of the chapters is entitled Aftermath: The Next 10,000 Years and is followed by one that talks about The Next Billion Years and Beyond. Obviously we cannot predict what science or society will be like in the far future; this is not a how-to manual. So how would one characterize the book? The Amazon product page rated it for readers interested in Business and Economics, Computers, and Medical topics, but I would put it more in the Philosophy category, albeit a philosophy shaped by Tegmark’s education as a physicist.
    Tegmark begins, as any good scientist would, by defining his terms, terms like life, intelligence, and consciousness that need to be broadened if they are to include Artificial General Intelligence. He outlines the controversies about when strong artificial intelligence might come about and whether it will be good for humanity and devotes much of the book to the challenges and threats of artificial intelligence and what to do to make it beneficial.
    Most people would probably agree that having goals is a key element of intelligence. In the chapter on goals, Tegmark raises issues like should we give AI goals, and how do we assure that the goals we want are retained as the AI gets smarter, maybe smarter than we are? Where did goals come from anyway? “How did goal-oriented behavior emerge from the physics of our early Universe, which consisted merely of a bunch of particles bouncing around?” Consciousness is another aspect we usually associate with intelligence. Tegmark acknowledges the common categorization of consciousness as the “hard problem” but wades in anyway. He defines consciousness as “subjective experience” and wonders “Does it feel like anything at all to be a self-driving car?”
    Lest you begin to think of Tegmark as an ivory tower academic who is disassociated from the real world, let me assure you that Tegmark matches his energetic thinking with energetic action. He is one of the founders of the Future of Life Institute, a group focused on improving the future of life through “technological stewardship”. The group has garnered multi-million-dollar support from sponsors like Elon Musk for research into topics like AI safety to avoid both hacking and AI “escape” . They have published a list of Artificial Intelligence Principles that has been signed by over a thousand AI researchers and thinkers like Elon Musk, Steven Hawking, David Chalmers, Sam Harris, Donald Knuth, and Ray Kurzweil.
    Tegmark’s writing is clear and even entertaining; he opens the book with a fun science fiction short story about a team that builds the first Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) and refers to their experiences throughout the rest of the book. But this is not a book to read quickly. I found myself pausing often. I took side trips to bone up on interesting topics I was not too familiar with, like the Winograd Schema Challenge, a rival to the Turing Test to assess whether an AI can rival human intelligence. I also stopped to reflect on the questions Tegmark asked and his proposed answers. That is exactly what Tegmark wants the readers to do, and he even has a link to a part of his website where you can offer your opinions and exchange ideas with others. You probably will find that hard to resist!
    My thanks to Net Galley for an advance reader copy for my enjoyment and review.
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  2. Lucas Perry says:
    18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An exciting look into one of the most important conversations we will ever have, August 29, 2017
    By 

    Tegmark brings a refreshing perspective to what likely is one of, if not the, most important conversation of our time. After setting the stage and clearing the field of common myths and misconceptions regarding AI, Tegmark methodically moves through the emergence of intelligence in our cosmos some 4 billion years ago to the implications of what he calls “Life 3.0,” entities which can both redesign their hardware and software.

    Couching the emergence and development of both consciousness and intelligence within the more cosmological world view of a physicist offers a truly inspiring narrative. Moving through hundreds, thousands, and billions of years with Tegmark solidifies the development of intelligence as a cosmological phenomenon which you come to realize that you yourself are a part of. Learning how intelligence is an emergent expression of more basic physical laws feels, at least to me, thoroughly grounding and deeply reestablishing of a real connection between me and the world.

    Chapters 6, 7, and 8 are my favorite and cover territory seldom explored in similar literature. In 6, he explores the capacity of artificial superintelligence to colonize the universe and the implications for the about 10 billion galaxies he estimates might be able to be colonized by it. Chapter 7 explores the emergence and evolution of goals at different levels of reality, ranging from thermodynamics to wet and squishy intelligences like you and me. In chapter 8, Tegmark explores consciousness and the mysteries and questions surrounding it, a topic I believe deserves far more attention than it is currently getting.

    This book is aimed at a wider audience than Bostrom’s Superintelligence, but even if you are an avid reader of all that concerns technology, the deep future, and AI, I’m certain you’ll find novel content and an enjoyable recontextualization of AI from the perspective a physicist. On a less serious note, I really love that the author summarizes the most important points at the end of each chapter. It helps me remember everything. :p

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  3. Anthony Aguirre says:
    56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    A brilliant guide to the massive AI revolution headed our way, August 29, 2017
    By 
    Anthony Aguirre (Santa Cruz, CA United States) –
    (REAL NAME)
      

    The first chapter of Tegmark’s new book is called “Welcome to the most important conversation of our time,” and that’s exactly what this book is. Before diving into the book, a few words about why this conversation is so important and why Tegmark is a central agent helping make it happen and, through the book, the perfect guide.

    Have you notice how you don’t “solve” CAPTCHAs (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) anymore? That’s because computers now can. Artificial Intelligence, from being a fairly niche area of mostly academic study a decade ago has exploded in the last five years. Much more quickly than many anticipated, machine learning (a subset of AI) systems have defeated the best human Go players, are piloting self-driving cars, usefully if imperfectly translating documents, labeling your photos, understanding your speech, and so on. This has led to huge investment in AI by companies and governments, with every sign that progress will continue. This book is about what happens if and when it does.

    But why hear about it from Tegmark, an accomplished MIT physicists and cosmologist, rather than (say) an AI researcher? First, Tegmark has over the past few years *become* an AI researcher, with 5 published technical papers in the past two years. But he’s also got a lifetime of experience thinking carefully, rigorously, generally (and entertainingly to boot) about the “big picture” of what is possible, and what is not, over long timescales and cosmic distances (see his last book!) – which most AI researchers do not. Finally, he’s played an active and very key role (as you can read about in the book’s epilogue) in actually creating conversation and research about the impacts and safety of AI in the long-term. I don’t think anyone is more comprehensively aware of the full spectrum of important aspects of the issue.

    So now the book. Chapter 1 lays out why AI is suddenly on everyone’s radar, and very likely to be extremely important over the coming decades, situating present-day as a crucial point within the wider sweep of human and evolutionary history on Earth. Chapter 2 takes the question of “what is intelligence?” and abstracts it from its customary human application, to “what is intelligence *in general*?” How can we define it in a useful way to cover both biological and artificial forms, and how do these tie to a basic understanding of the physical world? This lays the groundwork for the question of what happens as artificial intelligences grow ever more powerful. Chapter 3 addresses this question in the near future: what happens as more and more human jobs can be done by AIs? What about AI weapons replacing human-directed ones? How will be cope when more and more decision are made by AIs what may be flawed or biased? This is a about a lot of important changes occurring *right now* to which society is, for the most part, asleep at the wheel. Chapter 4 gets into what is exciting – and terrifying – about AI: as a designed intelligence, it can in principle *re*design itself to get better and better, potentially on a relatively short timescale. This raises a lot of rich, important, and extremely difficult questions that not that many people have thought through carefully (another in-print example is the excellent book by Bostrom). Chapter 5 discusses where what happens to humans as a species after an “intelligence explosion” takes place. Here Tegmark is making a call to start thinking about where we want to be, as we may end up somewhere sooner than we think, and some of the possibilities are pretty awful. Chapter 6 exhibits Tegmark’s unique talent for tackling the big questions, looking at the *ultimate* limits and promise of intelligent life in the universe, and how stupefyingly high the stakes might be fore getting the next few decades right. It’s both a sobering and an exhilerating prospect. Chapters 7 and 8 then dig into some of the deep and interesting questions about AI: what does it mean for a machine to have “goals”? What are our goals as individuals and a society, and how can we best aim toward them in the long term? Can a machine we design have consciousness? What is the long-term future of consciousness? Is there a danger of relapsing into a universe *without* consciousness if we aren’t careful? Finally, an epilogue describes Tegmark’s own experience – which I’ve had the privilege to personally witness – as a key player in an effort to focus thought and effort on AI and its long-term implications, of which writing this book is a part. (And I should also mention the prologue, which gives an fictional but less *science*fictional depiction of an artificial superintelligence being used by a small group to seize control of human society.

    The book is written in a very lively and engaging style. The explanations are clear, and Tegmark develops a lot of material at a level that is understandable…

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