Knowledge, Nerds & Geeks

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is a book by Swedish-American cosmologist Max Tegmark from MIT. Life 3.0 discusses Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its impact on the future of life on Earth and beyond. The book discusses a variety of societal implications, what can be done to maximize the chances of a positive outcome, and potential futures for humanity, technology and combinations thereof.

The book begins by positing a scenario in which AI has exceeded human intelligence and become pervasive in society. Tegmark refers to different stages of human life since its inception: Life 1.0 referring to biological origins, Life 2.0 referring to cultural developments in humanity, and Life 3.0 referring to the technological age of humans. The book focuses on “Life 3.0”, and on emerging technology such as artificial general intelligence that may someday, in addition to being able to learn, be able to also redesign its own hardware and internal structure.

The first part of the book looks at the origin of intelligence billions of years ago and goes on to project the future development of intelligence. Tegmark considers short-term effects of the development of advanced technology, such as technological unemployment, AI weapons, and the quest for human-level AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). The book cites examples like Deepmind and OpenAI, self-driving cars, and AI players that can defeat humans in Chess, Jeopardy, and Go.

After reviewing current issues in AI, Tegmark then considers a range of possible futures that feature intelligent machines and/or humans. The fifth chapter describes a number of potential outcomes that could occur, such altered social structures, integration of humans and machines, and both positive and negative scenarios like Friendly AI or an AI apocalypse. Tegmark argues that the risks of AI come not from malevolence or conscious behavior per se, but rather from the misalignment of the goals of AI with those of humans. Many of the goals of the book align with those of the Future of Life Institute.

The remaining chapters explore concepts in physics, goals, consciousness and meaning, and investigate what society can do to help create a desirable future for humanity.