Life 3.0 · Human Beings in the Age of Artificial Intelligence · Book Review


The current race toward AGI can end up in a fascinatingly broad range of aftermath scenarios for upcoming millennia. Super intelligence can peacefully coexist with humans, either because it’s forced to (e.g. the enslaved god scenario) or because it’s friendly AI that wants to (e.g. libertarian utopia, protector god, benevolent dictator, and zookeeper scenarios). Super intelligence can be prevented by an AI gatekeeper scenario or by humans (e.g. 1984 scenario) by deliberately forgetting the technology (e.g. reversion scenario) or by lack of incentives to build it (e.g. egalitarian utopia scenario). Humanity can go extinct and get replaced by AIs (e.g. conquer and descendants scenarios) or by nothing (self-destruction scenario).

Life 3.0 – chapter 5: Aftermath, the next 10,000 years

“Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark is an ambitious and wide-ranging exploration of the future of life under the influence of AI. The book, which combines scientific rigor with speculative insight, aims to provide a holistic view of the myriad ways artificial intelligence could affect our lives, society, and even the future of life itself on cosmic scales. Tegmark, a physicist and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, employs a multidisciplinary approach, incorporating perspectives from ethics, economics, computing, and philosophy to paint a comprehensive picture of the possible futures AI could facilitate.

One of the book’s key strengths is its accessibility. Tegmark tackles complex topics, such as machine learning algorithms and the intricacies of computational theory, without overwhelming the reader with technical jargon. By using everyday language and relatable examples, he demystifies AI’s complicated subject matter, making the book an excellent entry point for those unfamiliar with the field.

The book uses the framework of “Life 1.0,” “Life 2.0,” and “Life 3.0” to categorize the evolutionary stages of life. While Life 1.0 refers to simple biological organisms governed by hardcoded behavior, Life 2.0 signifies beings like humans who can learn and adapt. Life 3.0, on the other hand, represents a hypothetical future stage where entities can not only learn but can redesign their hardware, not just the software, potentially leading to an intelligence explosion. It’s a compelling lens through which to explore questions about consciousness, identity, ethics, and the long-term future of intelligent life.

However, some critics might find that the book raises more questions than it answers, which can be both a strength and a weakness. On one hand, “Life 3.0” serves as a thought-provoking exercise that encourages readers to actively engage with the existential questions surrounding AI. On the other hand, those seeking concrete answers or policy solutions might be left unsatisfied. Tegmark does propose some governance ideas through his advocacy for beneficial AI and the Asilomar AI Principles but stops short of offering a detailed roadmap.

Despite this, “Life 3.0” is an enlightening read that provokes deep thought and discussion on the ethical and philosophical implications of artificial intelligence. It serves as a call-to-action for multi-disciplinary collaboration in steering the future of AI towards beneficial outcomes. Whether you are an AI expert, a policy-maker, or a layperson interested in the future, Tegmark’s book offers valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the age of artificial intelligence.