The Coming Age of Hyperintelligence
An astounding look at the future of life on Earth by the great scientific visionary of our age
The creator of the Gaia hypothesis and the greatest environmental thinker of our time has produced an astounding new theory about the future of life on Earth. James Lovelock argues that the anthropocene - the age in which humans acquired planetary-scale technologies - is, after three centuries, coming to an end. A new age - the novacene - has already begun.
New beings will emerge from existing artificial intelligence systems. They will think 10,000 times faster than we do and will regard us as we now regard plants. The cruel, violent machine takeover imagined by sci-fi writers will not happen: these hyper-intelligent beings will be as dependent on the health of the planet as we are. They will need the planetary cooling system of Gaia to defend from the increasing heat of the sun. Gaia depends on organic life. We will be partners in this project. It is crucial, Lovelock argues, that the intelligence of Earth survives and prospers. We are at present the only beings capable of understanding the cosmos, but he speculates that the novacene could be the beginning of a process that will see intelligence suffusing the entire cosmos. At the age 100, Lovelock has produced the most compelling work of his life.
Praise for Novacene
The hard science is explained with beautiful clarity, and a characteristic mischievous wit ... It is a bracing correctiveSteven Poole, Guardian
This restlessly thoughtful and forward-looking book ... is partly a defence of a lifetime's ideas, but mostly an argument about how AI is soon to overtake us - and what that means for our speciesJames McConnachie, The Times
Leavened with wit and optimism ... Novacene is the collected wisdom of an elder of our tribe which more than repays the short time it takes to read.Stephen Cave, Financial Times
Novacene reads like undiluted Lovelock. From the start of his writing life - no matter how tortuous the narrative or complex the argument - Lovelock has written persuasively. ... if you want a sense of hyperintelligence in bipedal form, Novacene is a good place to start.Tim Radford, Nature