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Max Tegmark is a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of numerous technical papers on such topics as cosmology to artificial intelligence. He is the author of Our Mathematical Universe, and Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence. (Bowker Author mostra'n més Biography) mostra'n menys

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I've only read this as the Blinkist summary and my review here is of that summary. And I know, From reading Tegmark's book "Our Mathematical Universe" that his books can be incredibly dense with material and very hard to summarise. I'm also aware that he likes to grasp "way out" ideas and run with them. (Maybe he'd like to be the originator of the new paradigm"). But with this book, his objectives seem reasonably clear: to draw attention to AI and its potential for humankind....both for good and for trouble. Here are a few of the snippets that appealed to me:
The first stage of life, Life 1.0, is simply biological. Consider a bacterium. Every aspect of its behavior is coded into its DNA. It's impossible for it to learn or change its behavior over its lifetime. The closest it comes to learning or improvement is evolution, but that takes many generations.
The second stage is cultural, Life 2.0. Humans are included here. Just like the bacterium, our “hardware” or bodies have evolved. But unlike simpler life-forms, we can acquire new knowledge during our lifetimes. Take learning a language. We can adapt and redesign ideas that we might call our “software.” And we make decisions using this knowledge.
The final stage is the theoretical Life 3.0, a form of technological life capable of designing both its hardware and software. Although such life doesn’t yet exist on earth, the emergence of non-biological intelligence in the form of AI technologies may soon change this.
Those who hold opinions about AI can be classified by how they feel about the emerging field’s effect on humanity.
1. First up are the digital utopians.
2. Second, there are the techno-skeptics.
3. Finally, there’s the beneficial AI movement.
Researchers in AI, however, are generally opposed to such a notion. They claim that the capability for memory, computation, learning and intelligence has nothing to do with human flesh and blood, let alone carbon atoms.......the author likes to think of intelligence as the “ability to accomplish complex goals.”......but human intelligence is uniquely broad. It can encompass skills like language learning and driving vehicles.
Even though artificial general intelligence (AGI) doesn’t yet exist, it's clear that intelligence isn’t just a biological faculty. Machines can complete complex tasks too......Human brains can store information, but so can floppy drives, CDs, hard drives, SSDs and flash memory cards, even though they’re not made of the same material.
Computing involves the transformation of information. So, the word “hello” might be transformed into a sequence of zeros and ones......But the rule or pattern which determines this transformation is independent of the hardware that performs it. What’s important is the rule or pattern itself......So, if memory, learning, computation and intelligence aren’t distinctly human, then what exactly makes us human? As research in AI continues apace, this question is only going to prove harder to answer.
AI is advancing rapidly and will impact human life in the near future. An example is an AI system playing an old computer game named Breakout......At first, the AI system did poorly. But it soon learned and eventually developed an intelligent score-maximizing strategy that even the developers hadn’t thought of when they played themselves........and in March 2016, when the AI system AlphaGo beat Lee Sedol, the world’s best Go player......Go is a strategy game that requires intuition and creativity. AI systems are also advancing quickly in the field of natural languages.
It’s clear that AI will impact all areas of human life in the near future. Algorithmic trading will affect finance; autonomous driving will make transportation safer, smart grids will optimize energy distribution and AI doctors will change healthcare.
As AI systems can outperform humans in more and more fields, we humans may even become unemployable.
Until now, AI has been applied fairly narrowly in limited fields like language translation or strategy games.........But an intelligence explosion predicted. This is a process by which an intelligent machine gains superintelligence, a level of intelligence far above human capability......It would achieve this through rapid learning and recursive self-improvement because an AGI could potentially design an even more intelligent machine, which could design an even more intelligent machine and so on. This could trigger an intelligence explosion that would allow machines to surpass human intelligence.
Let’s say, for example, that humans program a superintelligence that is concerned with the welfare of humankind. From the superintelligence’s perspective, this would probably be akin to a bunch of kindergartners far beneath your intelligence holding you in bondage for their own benefit.
Various AI aftermath scenarios are possible, ranging from the comforting to the terrifying.
There are various aftermath scenarios. These vary from peaceful human–AI coexistence to AIs taking over, leading to human extinction or imprisonment.
1. The first possible scenario is the benevolent dictator. A single benevolent superintelligence would rule the world, maximizing human happiness.
2. In the same vein, there’s a scenario involving a protector god, where humans would still be in charge of their own fate, but there would be an AI protecting us and caring for us, rather like a nanny.
3. Another scenario is the libertarian utopia. Humans and machines would peacefully coexist. This would be achieved through clearly defined territorial separation. Earth would be divided into three zones. One would be devoid of biological life but full of AI. Another would be human only. There would be a final mixed zone, where humans could become cyborgs by upgrading their bodies with machines.
4. Then there’s the conquerors’ scenario, which we looked at in the last blink. This would see AIs destroy humankind,
5. Finally, there’s the zookeeper scenario. Here a few humans would be left in zoos for the AIs’ own entertainment, much like we keep endangered panda bears in zoos.
There’s no doubt that we humans are goal-oriented. Think about it: even something as small as successfully pouring coffee into a cup involves completing a goal.
But actually, nature operates the same way. Specifically, it has one ultimate purpose: destruction. Technically, this is known as maximizing entropy, which in a layperson’s terms means increasing messiness and disorder. When entropy is high, nature is “satisfied.”
Let’s return to the cup of coffee. Pour a little milk in, then wait a short while. What do you entropy increases. [This is not really a great example because to make the coffee in the first place requires complex beans to be grown which requires a decrease in entropy .......only then can you start the process of grinding the beans and mixing with hot water and milk that gives the increase in entropy]
On a bigger scale, the universe is no different. Particle arrangements tend to move toward increased levels of entropy. [But also begs the question of how stars etc. are formed with local decreases in entropy]. This goes to show how crucial goals are, and currently, AI scientists are grappling with the problem of which goals AI should be set to pursue.....After all, today’s machines have goals too. Or rather, they can exhibit goal-oriented behaviour. For instance, if a heat-seeking missile is hot on your tail, it’s displaying goal-oriented behaviour.
But even if humanity could agree on a few moral principles to guide an intelligent machine’s goals, implementing human-friendly goals would be trickier yet.
1. First of all, we’d have to make an AI learn our goals. This is easier said than done because the AI could easily misunderstand us. For instance, if you told a self-driving car to get you to the airport as fast as possible, you might well arrive covered in vomit while being chased by the police.
2. The next challenge would be for the AI to adopt our goals, meaning that it would agree to pursue them.
3. And finally, the AI would have to retain our goals, meaning that its goals wouldn’t change as it undergoes self-improvement.
Even though nature’s goal is maximum entropy, particles nonetheless rearrange themselves into complex organisms. Why? Because a living organism dissipates energy faster and thereby increases entropy [this explanation is a little to glib...a little too cute and it certainly doesn’t explain how the decrease in entropy ...the living organism;....came about].......what interests AI researchers, then, is the rearrangement that intelligent machines would have to undergo to become conscious......No one has an answer right now.
It’s tricky. We might like to imagine consciousness is something to do with awareness and human brain processes. But then we’re not actively aware of every brain process. For example, you’re typically not consciously aware of everything in your field of vision. It’s not clear why there’s a hierarchy of awareness and why one type of information is more important than another.....But the author favours a broad definition known as subjective experience, which allows a potential AI consciousness to be included in the mix. Using this definition, researchers can investigate the notion of consciousness through several sub-questions. For instance, "How does the brain process information?” or “What physical properties distinguish conscious systems from unconscious ones?”
Intelligent machines could be purposed with a broader spectrum of sensors, making their sensory experience far fuller than our own.....Additionally, AI systems could experience more per second because an AI “brain” would run on electromagnetic signals traveling at the speed of light, whereas neural signals in the human brain travel at much slower speeds.
The potential impact of AI research is vast. It points to the future, but it also entails facing some of humankind’s oldest philosophical questions.
The key message in this book: The race for human-level AI is in full swing. It’s not a question of if AGI will arrive, but when. We don’t know what exactly will happen when it does, but several scenarios are possible: humans might upgrade their “hardware” and merge with machines, or a superintelligence may take over the world. One thing is certain–humanity will have to ask itself some deep philosophical questions about what it means to be human.
My overall take on the book is that it is certainly interesting and he raises a number of issues that I hadn’t thought of. Especially worrying to me is the concept of superintelligence in a conquerors or zookeeper scenario. Some of his examples of entropy appear to be undeveloped or misleading but overall I was impressed with the book. Four stars from me.
… (més)
 
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booktsunami | Hi ha 25 ressenyes més | Jul 14, 2024 |
Normally, I like to include enough in a review that it helps me to recall the main content or the thrust of the book. But Tegmark's book kind of defies this process. First, because it's reasonably long (400 pages), second, because it carries a series of very dense arguments and third because, in the latter sections, he seems to be carried away with fantasies (that may or may not be actual....but are certainly hard to follow and concur with). So I've given up on the idea that I'm going to write a resume of the book here. Just impossible. Tegmark himself, actually does a great job, at the end of every chapter, in including a "potted version" of the thrust of his arguments in that chapter. Here's an example from Chapter 11:
THE BOTTOM LINE
• Mathematical structures are eternal and unchanging: they don't exist in space and time-rather, space and time exist in (some of) them. If cosmic history were a movie, then the mathematical structure would be the entire DVD.
• The Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) implies that the flow of time is an illusion, as is change.
• The MUH implies that creation and destruction are illusions, since
structure, but also all the stuff therein, including the particles that we're made of. Mathematically, this stuff seems to correspond to
"fields": numbers at each point in spacetime that encode what's there.
• The MUH implies that you're a self-aware substructure that is part of the mathematical structure. In Einstein's theory of gravity, you're a remarkably complex braidlike structure in spacetime, whose intricate pattern corresponds to information processing and self-awareness. In quantum mechanics, your braid pattern branches like a tree.
• The movielike subjective reality that you're perceiving right now exists only in your head, as part of your brain's reality model, and it includes not merely edited highlights of here and now, but also a selection of prerecorded distant and past events, giving the illusion that time flows.
• You're self-aware rather than just aware because your brain's reality model includes a model of yourself and your relation to the outside world: your perceptions of a subjective vantage point you call "I" are qualia, just as your subjective perceptions of "red" and "sweet" are.
• The theory that our external physical reality is perfectly described by a mathematical structure while still not being one is 100% unscientific in the sense of making no observable predictions whatsoever.
• You should expect your current observer moment to be a typical one among all observer moments that feel like you. Such reasoning leads to controversial conclusions regarding the end of humanity, the stability of our Universe, the validity of cosmological inflation, and whether you're a disembodied brain or simulation.
• It also leads to the so-called measure problem, a serious scientific crisis that calls into question the ability of physics to predict anything at all.

He writes really well. Rarely, did I need to re-read a paragraph several times to grasp what he was saying. And he has lots of clever metaphors to help the reader grasp certain complex concepts.
And when I keep coming back to my reasons for being skeptical of string theory and multiple universes I am reminded of the anecdote Tegmark relates (p191) of Bryce deWitt saying to Hugh Everett that he liked his math but was really bothered by his gut feeling that he just didn't FEEL like he was constantly splitting into parallel versions of himself. Everett, responded with the question..."Do you feel like you're orbiting the sun at thirty kilometres per second?" "Touché! " Bryce had exclaimed and conceded defeat on the spot.
Actually, though Tegmark seems to be an avid advocate for the multiple world's hypothesis and, in fact four levels of multiverses ....this is probably not the main thrust of his narrative, He came up with the idea that reality is just a mathematical concept. I find it both hard to grasp this and even harder to try and explain what he means. I think he's coming at it from the perspective of a particle physicist: so if you can define a particle in terms of mathematical equations and constants then that's all that is really needed the mathematical concept IS the reality. [I guess we all actually want to think of the particle as being something that you could "hold in your hand"....or in a magnetic field etc. but Tegmark is arguing that that is not reality any more than the mathematical concept of the particle]. I kind of get the impression that Tegmark is secretly hoping that at least one of his really wild ideas (like this) will take off and become the new paradigm and he'll be accorded accolades like Einstein and be awarded the Nobel prize and biographers will line up to describe how he came up with the idea....hence his detailed descriptions of the time and circumstances of how he came up with various ideas.....and who else might have been involved. Though, I wonder, if and when the fame comes, whether all will recollect exactly as Tegmark has set out?).
He does raise some really interesting questions which I've puzzled about. Such as the issue of introducing infinity into equations and explanations. It seems to me that this has created all sorts of amazing scenarios (like an infinite number of worlds inside an infinite number of worlds. Part of the problem is that it seems to me that infinity in these situations is being treated as a number when it is not a number.....it is a concept. What happens if we replace infinity (in all these scenarios) with just a very large number.....like 10 to power of 38. How does this affect the outcome? I recall reading Roger Penrose's book: " Fashion, Faith, and Fantasy in the New Physics of the Universe" where he seemed to have all sorts of mathematical objections to string theory and multiple universes etc. (apart from his own gut feeling which seemed to take a leading role in his thinking).
Anyway, I followed Tegmark in the early chapters and found myself more or less in agreement but as his flights of fantasy (non scientific, as he admits himself in most cases) grew more and more extreme with his Level IV Multiverse......I found myself withdrawing. It was like reading the stories from Sinbad the Sailor. Entertaining...yes...sort of. But graspable and reasonable? NO. I'm still hoping and expecting that somebody will come up with some concepts that are simpler and still connect the quantum world with gravity. Personally, I think the concept of time may be at the root of most of these issues. There's certainly something contradictory with our ideas about time.
Look, this is a significant book and profoundly interesting as well as being well written. Hard to give it anything less than 5 stars. Maybe I'll come back to it and re-read bits of it.
… (més)
 
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booktsunami | Hi ha 23 ressenyes més | Mar 7, 2024 |
This is a strange book, which mixes considerations that are vague conjectures about the future of intelligence with current research. The actual prose could do with some cleaning up, ironing out. But ultimately the content is unique, important and enlightening for both a technical reader as a lay person.

Undoubtedly AI will have a huge influenve on our future, this Physicists perspective is an important one to take into consideration.
 
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yates9 | Hi ha 25 ressenyes més | Feb 28, 2024 |
-1 to the author's giant ego, -1 to some parts being non-science while presented as science
 
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stef_lp | Hi ha 23 ressenyes més | Jan 31, 2024 |

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