Ask people to describe what they imagine artificial intelligence and a number of their reference points would no doubt be rooted in film and literature. There is the brutal robot from the Terminator films, the benign but deadly HAL9000 from 2001 A Space Odyssey, and the contemplative Deep Thought that Douglas Adams gave us. AI has a long way to go, but it is becoming something that people are beginning to use on a daily basis when they talk to Siri or Alexa.
The potential benefits of AI for humanity could be enormous, it could be used to run all sorts of systems, search for crimes and maybe be part of the justice process, monitor our health, assist with our jobs, and have the potential to actually do some of the most menial. People are considering using them for warfare too, one step on from what the drone does under human control at the moment.
Whilst AI excites some people who can only see the positives, after all the potential of it is huge; there are others who are very concerned that about the downsides so much so that there are AI systems that are not connected to the world wide web. Using AI for war could backfire spectacularly, bye bye human race; and what happens if the AI managing your house is hacked? Or the one in your car fails at speed. Images of those pods in the matrix come to mind…
The subjects Tegmark covers In Life 3.0 goes some way to addressing these and a lot more issues that are concerning people about the implications of AI. Some of the subjects he writes about were what you’d expect in a book like this, consciousness, intelligence, life and the implications of an AI totalitarian state, would it be a utopia or worse. There were some chapters that I didn’t think were totally relevant to the subject; for example, he wanders off into the realms of space-time and goals. Was a little disappointing overall as this is a subject that needs urgent discussion right now.