Review of Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

tl;dr – Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence – is a great book about what will happen once machines outsmart us. Terminator or Jarvis or something else? 

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If a machine can think, it might think more intelligently than we do, and then where should we be? Even if we could keep the machines in a subservient position … we should, as a species, feel greatly humbled.

What is the book about?

Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence is written by Max Tegmark, a professor at MIT and author of books like Our Mathematical Universe etc.

Max Tegmark’s motivation behind this book is simple – he wants us to join the conversation on AI and what will it mean for us and our future. Will superintelligence arrive? When will it do so? What form will it take? Will it destroy us, save us, live with us or ignore us? What is likely to happen near-term to far-term? What is consciousness?

Or to put it in click-baitey terms – will it be Terminator or TARS or something else altogether?

 

What does this book cover?

Life 3.0 is a relatively long book. It is basically broken down into 8 chapters. The author has done a fantastic job of explaining the structure of the book and so, I am going to reuse his explanation shamelessly.

 

 

What did I like?

Life 3.0 is a reasonably comprehensive look at the most important questions surrounding Artificial Intelligence, beyond how to build one. 

Max Tegmark has written this book for different sets of readers – those who are totally new to this concept, those who are aware of the capabilities of AI and those who are AI researchers. Since the chapters are self-contained (except for the portion where basic definitions are agreed upon), it is easy to pick and read only the chapters that we are interested in.

There is also a lot of thought that has gone into these themes around AI. Multiple viewpoints are presented along with the author’s own and this gives us a well-rounded perspective by which we can come to our own conclusions. Obviously, there are a ton of references that back up these viewpoints/facts and this adds to the credibility of the book. In addition, the numerous pop-culture references do not hurt either.

What did I not like?

Nothing. But, be aware that this book needs some thought from the reader to grok what is being said. You cannot just pick it up, read it and throw it away.

My Recommendation

I recommend this book as a general read. People working on AI/ML should definitely pick this up so that you understand the broader concerns surrounding this area.

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Also published on Medium.

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