Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark - animated book review





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Published on Nov 18, 2017

This is my review and summary of an amazing book: Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence written by Max Tegmark.

We are approaching times when machines start to understand our world. There is a possibility, that in the near future we will be working with Artificial Intelligence as equal partners. This idea divided people into two groups. Some people expect androids to be our slaves, and others think that people will be working for AI. How should we approach this new age? Should we destroy all electronics, or work harder to make AI more powerful as soon as possible?

The author talks about every possible argument and every point of view regarding AI. It’s hard to find the main conclusion because we have only theories. I found that a lot of those possibilities made me think more about my future and life overall.

We all heard about automated cars. There are many prototypes of self-driving cars, and there is a big discussion about safety. Let’s say you’re driving, and 2 people suddenly walked in on the road in front of you - one from the left and one from the right. The car has to decide how to react to this situation:
A - hit the old person on the left side of the road.
B - hit the kid running after a ball on the right side of the road
or C - hit the tree next to the road, and probably injure passengers.
Which path should it choose? There is no good answer to this question.
But author pushes it even more. We would definitely need insurance for situations like these. Who should pay it?
Car owner? Should it be included in the car price? Or maybe it’s manufacturer’s obligation?
And with extra insurance, maybe cars could earn money for themselves, as Uber drivers?
But then, why stop there? Why couldn’t we let them do more than just drive? AI is better than humans when it comes to operating the stock market, so could our cars have their own stock wallets, to cover accident insurance expenses?

The author suggests looking at AI development from the perspective of horses looking at the first car.
Horses probably thought that humans wouldn’t need them anymore since they could use cars for traveling purposes. But older horses could say that they had thought the same about the steam engine. And then, they probably realized that they didn’t need to walk around for hours to do simple tasks like mashing grain. And in fact, the number of horses in the USA tripled since car production started. People keep them as symbol status, for health reasons or just to enjoy riding.
Yes, there is a possibility that we eliminate repetitive tasks, like accounting, the same way we replaced humans with machines in factories.

We may someday create one great AI that will lead humans. Such program would be similar to some of the god’s imaginations. Its main goal would be creating the best environment possible for humans to live in, and keeping them healthy and happy. How would a machine achieve something like this? We can only speculate....

The author suggests imagining that every person over 5 years old died. Your goal is to move all humans to a different planet, and you only have kids to manage. Would you give them instructions and hope they understand and execute them? Or maybe you would force them to do things they wouldn't want to do, that would be good for them in the long-term?

At the end of this book, you can read more about goals. What goals would AI pursue? Even if we assume we can set fixed goals for it, who should be in charge of that? People with great power can have different goals, just like Pope and Hitler had different goals. How should those goals be defined to avoid King Midas’ mistake? He wanted to be successful in every business venture, but he simplified it too much, and said: “I want everything I touch to turn into gold”. This could happen with AI.

The most important question you are probably asking yourself is “which jobs will disappear”? This is tricky because we can’t predict precisely how things will develop. If you want to become a taxi driver or an accountant, you may find that there is no need for such jobs before you even finish your school. The author suggests choosing creative jobs that need interaction with other people.

The author did an amazing job explaining the most likely outcomes with comparisons so simple, that even grandmas lacking technology knowledge could understand it. I never enjoyed science fiction, but Max used popular stories to better show ways AI development could go and kept it simple, steered clear of exaggerations.
This is a must-read, whether you are a supporter or an opponent of AI.

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