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A user’s guide to tomorrow’s superintelligent AI

Life 3.0 cover illustration
“Life 3.0” focuses on what lies ahead in AI. (Suvadip Das Illustration, based on Netfalls Remy Musser)

Do we need to be concerned about the rapid rise of artificial intelligence? Some people say there’s nothing to worry about, while others warn that a Terminator-level nightmare is dead ahead.

MIT physicist Max Tegmark says both sides of that argument are exaggerations.

In his newly published book, “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence,” Tegmark lays out a case for what he calls “mindful optimism” about beneficial AI — artificial intelligence that will make life dramatically better for humans rather than going off in unintended directions.

Tegmark, who’s also the co-founder and president of the Future of Life Institute, says AI won’t be beneficial unless it incorporates safety measures yet to be developed. That’s not because the machines are destined to turn against their masters. It’s because those masters are subject to the vagaries of human nature.

“To me, the really interesting question isn’t quibbling about whether to be optimistic or pessimistic,” he told GeekWire, “but rather to ask, ‘What useful things can we do today to create the best possible future?’”

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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