Review of Life 3.0

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Life 3.0 book summary

Editorial Rating



  • Analytical
  • Scientific
  • Visionary


Over vast time, people have passed through Life 1.0: biological evolution. In Life 2.0, people gained knowledge about politics, art and science that changed how they see the world and their own purpose. During Life 3.0, which may come within the 21st century, humans will use powerful technology to transcend evolution. MIT theoretical physicist Max Tegmark explores what may happen and what it means. He becomes your guide through complex terrain – the nature of life, intelligence and computation; the physics of energy; the future of the universe; and the questions people will face in a seriously different future world.

About the Author

Max Tegmark is a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of the Future of Life Institute. He also wrote Our Mathematical Universe.

Developments in AI may enable Life 3.0, an era in which people design their own software and hardware.

Tegmark details how, unlike individual people, individual bacteria don’t learn how to survive and reproduce; they simply do it. Their DNA dictates the structure of their bodies – their hardware – as well as how they identify, move toward and consume their sources of food – their software. Bacteria acquired these characteristics through evolution by natural selection; any improvements, the author explains, came by way of random DNA mutations. Bacteria exemplify “Life 1.0” in that their hardware and software result from biological evolution.

People, Tegmark notes, can’t perform basic survival tasks when they are first born. They enter the world with the capacity to learn from their relatives, teachers, religious leaders and other mentors during childhood. As children grow older, they can take more control of the knowledge and skills they acquire. They may decide to become doctors, lawyers or mathematicians and to take the necessary steps to acquire the requisite knowledge and skills. Thus, according to the author, people exemplify “Life 2.0.”

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