Although AI is drawing many scientists into its web, his background in cosmology gives him a special perspective, as he examines the constraints that the natural universe and the laws of physics would place on a super-intelligent civilisation seeking to expand out into the galaxy and beyond ... While I do not accept Tegmark’s argument about our likely uniqueness, I still warm to his scenario of AI-driven intelligence that originated on Earth eventually pervading the universe. I like the idea of our successors spreading through the galaxy, their journey enriched by peaceful encounters with other supercivilisations ... 'I view this conversation about the future of AI as the most important one of our time,' he writes. Life 3.0 might convince even those who believe that AI is overhyped to join in.
...facinating ... Although it's probably not his intention, much of what Tegmark writes will quietly terrify his readers. He spins scenarios in which the technology on which humans depend consults those humans less and less, preferring instead to learn, adapt, and innovate on its own – building security systems, national power grids, and medical and financial information networks, all using algorithms to change and grow, often in unpredictable ways that don't mirror humanity's own developmental path.
Lucid and engaging, it has much to offer the general reader. Mr. Tegmark’s explanation of how electronic circuitry—or a human brain—could produce something so evanescent and immaterial as thought is both elegant and enlightening. But the idea that a machine-based superintelligence could somehow run amok is fiercely resisted by many computer scientists, to the point that people associated with it have been attacked as Luddites ... By failing either to refute or champion the bulk of these possible futures, Mr. Tegmark makes the whole exercise seem divorced from reality. But he means it as a challenge: Rather than our being told what is going to happen, he wants us to decide what we want to happen. This sounds quite noble, if a tad naive—until he invites us to debate the issue on a web site that is chockablock with promo material for the book. There’s a place for self-promotion, just as there’s a place for killer-robot movies—but does either really contribute to our understanding of what humanity faces?
Written in an accessible and engaging style, and aimed at the general public, the book offers a political and philosophical map of the promises and perils of the AI revolution. Instead of pushing any one agenda or prediction, Tegmark seeks to cover as much ground as possible … Yet the real problem of Tegmark’s book is that it soon bumps up against the limits of present-day political debates. The AI revolution turns many philosophical problems into practical political questions and forces us to engage in ‘philosophy with a deadline.’ Philosophers have been arguing about consciousness and free will for thousands of years, without reaching a consensus. This mattered little in the age of Plato or Descartes, because in those days the only place you could create superintelligences was in your imagination. Yet in the 21st century, these debates are shifting from philosophy faculties to departments of engineering and computer science.
...[an] expert but often wildly speculative rumination ... In the early chapters, Tegmark portrays near futures that range from Utopian to Orwellian. Later in the book, he delivers a vision of the far future: a universe filled with the products of superintelligence, with organic Homo sapiens a distant memory. Throughout, the author lays out his ideas in precisely detailed scenarios. Many read like science fiction; others, such as a fine chapter on the nature of consciousness, are simply good popular science. Prophesies have a dreadful record, but they are also endlessly fascinating. Readers may balk now and then—Tegmark’s solutions to inevitable mass unemployment are a stretch—but most will find the narrative irresistible.
The robot takeover will ignite an explosion of 'awe-inspiring' life even if humans don’t survive, according to this exhilarating, demoralizing primer ... Tegmark’s smart, freewheeling discussion leads to fascinating speculations on AI-based civilizations spanning galaxies and eons ... Tegmark’s future will strike many as a one in which, at best, humans are dependent on AI-powered technology and, at worst, are extinct. His call for strong controls on AI systems sits awkwardly beside his acknowledgment that controlling such godlike entities will be almost impossible. Love it or hate it, it’s an engrossing forecast.