The first stages of the Novacene are already underway, Lovelock argues. He cites the example of AlphaZero, a computer program that taught itself to play the game Go — and then quickly went on to become the world’s best Go player. Today’s computers can already process data far faster than we can; with fully independent artificial intelligence, he says, tomorrow’s cyborgs will easily become a million times smarter than we are.

Lovelock imagines cyborgs filling every evolutionary niche on the planet. “I think of cyborgs as another kingdom of life,” he says. “They will stand to us in much the same way as we ourselves, as a kingdom of animals, stand to plants.”

What would cyborgs look like? Lovelock is intentionally vague because he expects that they’ll rethink the basic rules of design in ways that we puny humans cannot imagine. “Cyborgs would start again; like Alpha Zero they would start from a blank slate,” he writes in his book. He speculates that they might look like spheres, though when pressed he says, “It’s entirely possible they would have no form at all,” existing mostly as virtual forms inside computers.