Max Tegmark 2017. Life 3.0. Being human in the age of artificial intelligence Allen Lane, 364 pp.

A chatty exploration of AI and the future of humans with way too many discussions of scenarios to be of enduring interest. Much of the ground is already covered elsewhere, especially by Nick Bostrom.

The section near the end on consciousness doesn’t offer anything beyond Koch, Eagleman, Tononi, Dennett et al. (all are cited).

Early on there are a few pages on “what is computation?” which are a lot more interesting.

There are some interesting (but not very useful) estimates of computing power (on page 130 and thereabouts): Current estimates are that it would take about 1017 FLOPS (floating point operations per second) to simulate a human brain. That is about the same as the best 2015 supercomputer.

Tegmark asserts that an entity/intelligence/conciousness/program has no way of knowing what substrate/operating system it is running on. This is given as a corollary of Turing’s proof of universal compuation. But if the statement is true then is it not futile for physicists to search for the Theory of Everything?

Freeman Dyson is quoted (p.460) from a much earlier and much more mathematical treatment of some of the same topics:

I think I have shown that there are good scientific reasons for taking seriously the possibility that life and intelligence can succeed in molding this universe of ours to their own purposes.

Dyson, F.J. (1979) Time without end: physics and biology in an open universe. Reviews of Modern Physics 51, 447-460.