Must Read: Life 3.0

Must Read: Life 3.0

Currently computer systems are better Chess, Go and Jeopardy players and everyone is wondering where AI will beat us next. Therefore experts in the field are certain: Artificial intelligence (AI) will probably be the most important driver of change in the 21st century. Most likely, it will have a bigger impact on the human life than fire did, and it will transform our society, economy, work, war, politics, our bodies and even human identity. Scenarios that are hard to imagine for some people, scenarios that sound more like science fiction. But in all truth, if we nowadays read a prediction of the future about the world in 2100, that doesn’t sound a bit like science fiction, it will be certainly wrong. But what can we do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits of future AI and avoiding the risks? Where are the limits of development? And most importantly: How can we grow our prosperity through automation, without leaving people lacking income or purpose? 



The Three Stages of Life 

These are just a few questions that Max Tegmark, eminent physicist, MIT professor and co-founder of the Future of Life Institute, is trying to answer. One positive remark about his book “Life 3.0 – Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” is, that the author does not always evaluate these questions, but gives them the necessary space and discusses them in a factual manner without any fear mongering. Thankfully, that allows the reader to come up with their own conclusions about any given topic, based on scientific evidence and current trends.  


As the title suggests, Tegmark chooses a global and human-centred approach to the topic. Based on “the three stages of life” he classifies life forms into three levels of sophistication. Life 1.0 is unable to redesign either its hard- or software during its lifetime. It is determined by its DNA and changes only through evolution (for example bacteria). Life 2.0 can design much of its software itself, like humans that can learn complex new skills. This includes everything from the ability to tell jokes to your friends to your ability to read, write, calculate or sing. Finally, Life 3.0, which doesn’t yet exist on Earth, can dramatically redesign not only its software, but hardware as well. Tegmark points out, that Life 3.0 will master its own destiny and be completely freed of its evolutionary shackles. 


In summary, Tegmark divided the development of life into three stages, distinguished by life’s ability to design itself: 

  • Life 1.0: Biological Stage 

Evolves its hardware and software 

  • Life 2.0: Cultural Stage 

Evolves its hardware, designs much of its software 

  • Life 3.0: Technological Stage 

Designs its hardware and software 



The Future is Now 

Tegmark continues with debunking popular controversies, misconceptions and beliefs associated with AI. At this point most people get their AI knowledge from Hollywood – and the stories are more or less the same: evil cyborgs, machines take our jobs, or robots will overturn us. Tegmark takes a far more nuanced and balanced approach looking at our present progress with prosthetics or cochlear devices that suggest, that we as a human race are already in Life 2.1. Afterwards he then explores the current state of research into machine learning and some other breakthroughs in the field. He tries to imagine the near and more distant future. The short summary: Everything that can and will be imbued with AI. 


In a not so far future, algorithm will know us better than we know yourself. With the result, that our democratic elections and free markets could become obsolete. Once the bots know how our emotional processes work, organisations will be able to use this information. Nevertheless, Tegmark is positive that AI will generally have a positive impact on the development of humans. 



The Next Billion Steps 

After making the case that AI will not only change our laws, jobs or understanding of technologies, Tegmark explores the ramifications and consequences of an “living” AI. A life form that will be able to set their own goals. It has an intuition and is capable of creative and critical thinking. And does this mean AI is conscious? If so, can AIs suffer? Should they have rights? 


In his book Max Tegmark discusses nearly every possible argument and point of view regarding AI. Finally the reader may find it hard to find the main conclusion, because he mostly presents theories. Thanks to this approach, I found that a lot of those future scenarios made me think more about my future, life overall and how to make the most of AI in our current day and age. His book is an exhilarating study of the subject and an excellent place to start for anyone how want to see the bigger picture.  


For a more practical approach, we from adoptr are more than happy to further demystify AI, predictive analytics or machine learning. These technologies are critical to bringing innovation, providing new business opportunities and reshaping the way companies will operate in the next years. If you want to learn more about how businesses across diverse sectors are using it for competitive advantage and how to identify the business benefits of artificial intelligence, give us a call.


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