Features of Life 3 0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence PDF
In this authoritative and eye-opening book, Max Tegmark describes and illuminates the recent, path-breaking advances in Artificial Intelligence and how it is poised to overtake human intelligence. How will AI 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.Life 3 0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence PDF
How can we grow our prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose? What career advice should we give today’s kids? How can we make future AI systems more robust, so that they do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked? Should we fear an arms race in lethal autonomous weapons? Will machines eventually outsmart us at all tasks, replacing humans on the job market and perhaps altogether? Will AI help life flourish like never before or give us more power than we can handle?
What sort of future do you want? This book empowers you to join what may be the most important conversation of our time. It doesn’t shy away from the full range of viewpoints or from the most controversial issues—from superintelligence to meaning, consciousness and the ultimate physical limits on life in the cosmos.
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Description of Life 3 0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence PDF
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Dimensions and Characteristics of Life 3 0 Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence PDF
- Publisher : Vintage; Reprint edition (July 31, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 384 pages
- International Standard Book Number-10 : 1101970316
- International Standard Book Number-13 : 978-1101970317
- Lexile measure : 1370L
- Item Weight : 1.05 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.14 x 0.81 x 9.21 inches
May 27, 2018
October 28, 2017
Max Tegmark enthusiastically and excitedly writes about what life will be like for us humans with the rise in AI (Artificial Intelligence), AGI (Artificial General Intelligence – Intelligence on par with humans) and the possibility/probability of creating Super-Intelligence (AI enabled intelligence that far surpasses human intelligence and capabilities.). He asks the reader to critically engage with him in imagining scenarios of what such AI reality could mean for us and to respond on his Age of AI website.The book begins with the Tale of the Omega Team, a group of humans who decide to release advanced AI, named Prometheus, surreptitiously and in a controlled way into human society. The tale unfolds as a world take-over by Prometheus and in a final triumph becomes the world’s first single power able to enable life to flourish for billions of years on Earth and to be spread throughout the cosmos.
If you have never read much post-modern futurology, Tegmark is a good way to take the plunge. He brings together much of the thinking about what humanity will have to deal with, the decisions it will have to make and the options it might have with the inevitable advancement of technology and specifically AI. Above all he encourages the reader to believe that she/he has an important role to play in what the future will hold for us and that we need not, indeed cannot, succumb to fatalism. The most commendable, concrete and hopeful part of the book is in his story of AI researchers coming to agreement about the path forward for AI that is pro-active in addressing the challenges it presents and the impact it will have on human society. The end of the book lays out this path in the Asilomar AI Principles, which were created, critiqued, refined and agreed through a process initiated in an AI conference in Puerto Rico in January 2015. The takeaway for Tegmark is that AI research can now confidently go forward with the knowledge that impacts and consequences for humanity have been and will be addressed in the process to mitigate any negatives. He and his colleagues deserve credit for such engagement and thoughtful commitment in their endeavors.
For the above I gave the book four stars. The book is also fun to read and challenging to our common political and economic realities. There are, however, areas of concern that are either untouched or passed over lightly, to which I now turn:
1. The quest for truth – Tegmark assumes that we have an “excellent framework for our truth quest: the scientific method.” I start my critique here because this assumption is not argued nor established. There is no argument against the formidable power of scientific methodology to give deep explanation to natural reality. However, the issue of truth is rightly not the purview of science, but of philosophy. This may seem nit-picky, but we are too used to the idea that science is the absolute arbiter of truth as though it can offer a complete picture of reality, when in fact that’s not within its job description.
2. The way Tegmark frames his definition of life is a case in point. To do this he makes two moves: first, using the scientific method he deconstructs life in a reductionist move; the second move is to decenter biotic, human life in its importance and necessity in the unfolding of what he calls Life 3.0. Tegmark’s first move reduces the definition of life to “a process that can retain its complexity and replicate itself.” In this highly generalized definition he can than reduce life further to atoms arranged in a pattern that contains information.
This broad definition is important for the second move which is the decentering of biotic human life. Here he offers a post-modern notion that human life (anthropocentric) can no longer be the measure of all things. Humans have been displaced from the center of the universe in great steps since Copernicus. If we are going to promote Life 3.0, we must continue this decentering to make room for the expanded definition of life he offers. Life must now be imagined as other than biotic. It must include the possibilities imagined by our new technologies of superintelligence housed in robust substrates where human consciousness or even non-human consciousness can reside for great lengths of time and go beyond earth to the reaches of the universe. If it sounds utopian, there is that clear melody line in Tegmark’s writing, in spite of some protestations to the contrary.
This is Tegmark’s book. He can define life however he sees fit. From my perspective life was the good old fashioned, highly unlikely emergence of biotic generativity – the beginning of which we yet do not know. Evolution did its trial and error number over four billion years to produce humans. If and when there is ever the need to call something non-biotic, life, it will be apparent at that moment and not before. This does not mean that preparation for AI is not needed. It is that sapience is not sentience nor does intelligence to some superhuman degree make something life even if it can mimic or surpass human neurology. Call it what it is: a really smart human-made machine that is programed to learn, replicate, maybe have what we call consciousness and cause us all kinds of grief and gladness. Life? No.
3. It is good that Tegmark wades into the arena of ethics because they cry out for attention.
• First, can anyone actually account for or quantify/qualify accurately for human behavior? History has yet to convince us that humans, whether naturally tending toward the moral or not, cannot be morally controlled. The scientific evidence is in our history. And yes, there are many heroes, but there are many who are classified “evil.” One need only to look at the current “fade” of mass shootings in the USA. We may blame mentally unstable people for this, but we are those people. Tegmark points out that AI is morally neutral and like guns is not the evil element in the equation. But AI is initially and therefore ultimately a human endeavor and therefore is imbued with human imitation and limits. As good and needed an attempt that is made with the Asilomar AI Principles, we can be sure that AI will be used wrongly and perhaps fatally to all of life. Our certainty is because we know ourselves as humans. We are a product of Nature which models the whole spectrum of behaviors from the deeply violent to the deeply loving. More species of life on earth have gone extinct than are alive today. Dare we think that humans might escape a similar fate because we are intelligent or have benign superintelligent buddies? Before anything else can be discussed regarding the deep future of humanity, humanity itself has to come to grips with itself. Though Tegmark rhetorically acknowledges such negative possibilities, he is full steam ahead in his assumptions and commitment to the development of superintelligence.
• Second, in our modern world moral absolutes are hard to come by. In a purely naturalistic setting all morality is relative and therefore depends upon the decision of humans within a cultural setting within the personal psyches of the individuals making moral choices. It is not cynical to believe that if you scratch a beautiful public moral persona, you will get it to bleed a bewildering moral anomaly. Look at how many moral quibbles some of the scientists who were involved in developing atomic/nuclear weaponry had. When threatened, it seems “all options are on the table.” For all the good of Tegmark’s intentions this is a very uncertain area. Even his examples of several Russian men, who prevented nuclear holocaust, are frightening enough for us to understand just how serious the moment in which we live is morally. So, the question is: do we have a sufficient moral foundation and will to unleash AI invention and use?
•Third, in spite of trying to move away from human-centeredness rhetorically throughout his book, Tegmark does no better than anyone else when he, in the end, does not do so. In fact it is likely that humans will never be able to decenter themselves because all our concepts, heuristic overlays, thought processes, bodily constraints and needs make it impossible. At any rate, Tegmark, without great explanation or justification joins others in believing that humans must spread their life and intelligence throughout as much of the universe as possible – in order to unleash its potential! That very idea is human-centered: colonialist, exploitative, presumptive and perhaps idolatrous. In a universe where life is located only on our planet, as far as we know for sure, why do we think life, our life, should interrupt that immense time/space with our angst? Do we think our machines will overcome human moral ambivalence? Why inflict our unfinished project on earth to more territory? Why not make a moral stand to address earth and human issues so that until we have reached a greater potential morally, spiritually, intellectually, materially and relationally, we stay here and make sure our AI does too? Talk about a utopian dream! The point is that morally there is no good argument for taking human life and issues elsewhere, especially because that means unleashing the whole spectrum of human experience.
Fourth, though the book’s subtitle is “Being Human in an Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Tegmark does not address to any depth what happens to or even if humanity can last in the face of superintelligence. This is even with the assumption that AI will be good for humans. Human and AI life forms are critically different from each other. Though there might be some compatibility between the two, AI is more like the rocks and electrical switches than it is to humans. The human biotic substrate of our existence is in comparison, obsolete. The issues this raises cannot be put aside cavalierly with the technological move of uploading our humanity into a more robust substrate. Humanity by definition is biotic. If one cannot accept Tegmark’s generous new definition of life it means humans will be decentered in a devastating way.
4. One last thing needs mention, Tegmark’s use of the words “pessimistic” and “optimistic” in regard to the future path that AI will take. Both these words are unscientific. They describe a general psychological intuition or feeling about something based on a foundation that seems solid or not. To use such words in the context of AI value and possible future effects on humanity is misplaced. Better to stick with more concrete descriptions. One can say the same thing about Tegmark and his colleagues regarding their enthusiasm for technological future wonderments. History again has to keep us grounded. Who would have thought (no one obviously did) at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution that its descendants would be threatened within a degree or two their lives because of the burning of plentiful fossil fuel? Whatever plans are put forth to mitigate the impact of humans messing around with nature, we can be assured that we will always miscalculate and create unintended consequences. Explorers, explore, but beware!
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