Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark

book reviews

June 29, 2021

Life 3.0

I’ve been following Max Tegmark for several years now and had read with pleasure and amazement his first book Our Mathematical Universe. Max is one of the finest physics professors alive and combines an extensive knowledge with a talent for writing and lecturing. I’ve now finished his second book: Life 3.0. This new book has helped me reviewing the history of AI and understand much better its benefits and mostly its risks.

Throughout my life I have read many books on topics such as physics, cosmology, chemistry, geography, biology, zoology, sociology, cognitive psychology, programming, history, arts and religion (and also of course Science Fiction). When we put all these disciplines together we may get some additional insight on the way the universe is built and works. We increase our understanding of the long life of the universe, the time it took for matter and biology to evolve. And the time it took for culture to evolve and the much shorter time our technology now has. Mark Tegmark describes all this in detail and puts in a structured and coherent manner that allows to distinguish different scenarios for future evolution. With such scenarios it becomes then possible to analysis things in a neutral manner, gathering facts and hypotheses and then identifying potential risks and mitigation actions.

Finally what is very valuable in the author’s approach, is his ability to identify specific behaviors and actions that each of us can adopt in face of such large and complex topics. Tegmark also presents here The Future of Life Institute - FLI. The book and the FLI site explains well many AI systemic risks and presents how the Institute work aims at preventing them. Some are very worrying as Nuclear and Biological war and of course climate change. It was this that made me a strong supporter of the FLI, following up regularly on their programs and making a yearly donation.