The last invention of nature: World 4 (21st century)

Since ‘it is simple to make things complex, but complex to make things simple’ (Meyer’s 3rd Law). Since ‘less is more’ (Mies van der Rohe) and perfection is not ‘when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away (Antoine de Saint-Exupery) I decided to divide the entire world of nature into 4 categories. I would love to have only three of them but as Einstein said: Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

Table of beings

 Matter/bodyLifeMindCategory
World 1 Matter/Body  Things
World 2 Matter/ BodyLife   Animals
World 3 Matter/ BodyLifeMindHumans
World 4 LifeMind?

World 1 is the world of physics and chemistry, the world of stones, balls, tables, glasses, mud, water, and so on.

World 2 is the world of animals, the world of biology,  and corresponds to what Tegmark calls life 1.0. It arrived about 4 billion years ago. At this stage organisms do not learn much because they have their hardware and software provided by evolution. Their DNA specifies the design of their hardware (legs, eyes, hands, etc.) as well as their software. The algorithms in charge of specific behaviours like ‘follow the light’ are hard-coded into their DNA from the start.

World 3 is the world of humans. It arrived about a hundred millennia ago. At this stage the hardware of the organisms comes from evolution, their software comes mostly from design.

Tegmark describes the software as ‘all the algorithms and knowledge that you use to process the information from your senses and decide what to do—everything from the ability to recognize your friends when you see them to your ability to walk, read, write, calculate, sing and tell jokes.’ (2017, p. 27)

World 3 is superior to World 2 because it is able to process much more quantity of information.

An adult is usually 25 times heavier than when he was born and his synaptic connections that link the neurons in his brain can store about a hundred thousand times more information than the DNA that he was born with. (p. 28). All his knowledge and skills, roughly 100 terabytes, are stored in his synapsis while his DNA stores just about a gigabyte. With such a low storage, it was physically impossible for humans to be born with perfect English, sports abilities, and the capacity to make jokes.

World 4 is the world of a mind almost entirely independent from its body.

In World 4 life has both hardware and software made by design.

When the mind is fully understood in terms of algorithms the physical support of the human body becomes unnecessary.

Many AI experts think that this new kind of life might arrive during the coming century.

According to Harari (2015, p.131) “You can use numbers and mathematical symbols to write the series of steps a vending machine takes to prepare a cup of tea, and the series of steps a brain takes when it is alarmed by the approach of a lion.

For they are an essential part of the algorithm. When we write the fear algorithm, and break ‘fear’ down into a series of precise calculations, we should be able to point out: ‘Here, step number ninety-three in the calculation process – this is the subjective experience of fear!?”

In  The metamorphosis of the human body in the 21st century I wrote:

‘In the most extreme perspectives of artificial intelligence, the body can be inhabited, bought and sold like an apartment, while in the perspective of biotechnology it can be modified at will, updated, and integrated with robotic parts.’

A mind constructed artificially or made independent of its original body has the possibility of being uploaded into other bodies, theoretically many bodies. Such bodies can be humans, or more probably artificial bodies. The mind that in the evolution of living beings was not necessary for the bodies to live, in the end, makes bodies not necessary for itself to live.

References

Harari, Y. N. (2016). Homo deus: A brief history of tomorrow. London: Vintage.  ISBN 978-1784703936OCLC 953597984.

Tegmark, M. (2017). Life 3.0: being human in the age of artificial intelligence. New York: Knopf. ISBN 9781101946596OCLC 973137375.

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