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Life's third act: man and machine

Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

What role will the human race play in an age when artificial and superhuman intelligence roam the universe? MIT cosmologist Max Tegmark argues that we are thinking about the question all wrong.

To start out, the Stockholm-born Tegmark, a co-founder of the star-studded Future of Life Institute, refuses to be limited by a conventional understanding of life. Rather than springing from metabolizing cells, life in a post-biological world, he says, will be "a self-replicating information-processing system whose information (software) determines both its behavior and the blueprints for its hardware."

This of course describes DNA—the basis for all known life forms. But it also makes room to see artificial intelligence itself as a living thing.