Stephen Hawking Thinks These 3 Things Could Destroy Humanity
Stephen Hawking has a long list of warnings about threats to humanity.
Stephen Hawking may be most famous for his work on black holes and gravitational singularities, but the world-renowned physicist has also become known for his outspoken ideas about things that could destroy human civilization.
Hawkingsuffers from a motor neuron diseasesimilar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which left him paralyzed and unable to speak without a voice synthesizer. But that hasnt stopped the University of Cambridge professor from making proclamations about the wide range of dangers humanity faces including ourselves.
Here are a few things Hawking has said could bring about the demise of human civilization. [End of the World? Top Doomsday Fears]
Hawking is part of a small but growing group of scientists who have expressedconcerns about strong artificial intelligence(AI) intelligence that could equal or exceed that of a human.
The development of full artificial intelligencecould spell the end of the human race, Hawking told the BBC in December 2014. The statement was in response to a question about a new AI voice-synthesizing system that Hawking has been using.
Hawkings warnings echo those of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, who has called AI humanitys biggest existential threat. Last month, Hawking, Musk and dozens of other scientific bigwigs signed an open letterdescribing the risks, as well as the benefits, of AI.
Because of thegreat potential of AI, it is important to research how to reap its benefits while avoiding potential pitfalls, the scientistswrote in the letter, which waspublished online Jan. 11 by the Future of Life Institute, a volunteer organization that aims to mitigate existential threats to humanity.
But many AI researchers say humanity is nowhere near being able to develop strong AI.
We are decades away from any technology we need to worry about, Demis Hassabis, an artificial intelligence researcher at Google DeepMind, told reporters this week at a news conference about a new AI program he developed that can teach itself to play computer games. Still, Its good to start the conversation now, he added.
If our machines dont kill us, we might kill ourselves. Hawking now believes thathuman aggression might destroy civilization.
The physicist was giving a tour of the London Science Museum to Adaeze Uyanwah, a 24-year-old teacher from California who won a contest from . When Uyanwah asked, What human shortcomings would you most like to alter? Hawking responded:
The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all,The Independentreported.
For example,a major nuclear war would likely end civilization, and could wipe out the human race, Hawking added. When asked which human quality he would most like to magnify, Hawking chose empathy, because it brings us together in a peaceful,m88明升洗浴 loving state.
Hawking thinks space exploration will be important to ensuring the survival of humanity. I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be space, and that it represents an important life insurance for our future survival,as it could prevent the disappearance of humanity by colonizing other planets,Cambridge Newsreported.
But Hawking had made ominous warnings even before these recent ones. Back in 2010, Hawking said that, if intelligent alien life exists, itmay not be that friendlytoward humans.
If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didnt turn out very well for the Native Americans,Hawking said during an episode of Into the Universe withStephen Hawking, a show hosted by the Discovery Channel,reported The Times, a U.K.-based newspaper.
Advanced alien civilizations might become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they could reach, Hawking said. If so, it makes sense for them to exploit each new planet for material to build more spaceships so they could move on. Who knows what the limits would be?
From the threat of nefarious AI, to advanced aliens, to hostile humans, Hawkings outlook for humanity is looking pretty grim.
Follow Tanya Lewis onTwitter. Follow us@livescience,Facebook&Google+. Original article onLive Science.
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Tanya was a staff writer for Live Science from 2013 to 2015, covering a wide array of topics, ranging from neuroscience to robotics to strange/cute animals. She received a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a bachelor of science in biomedical engineering from Brown University. She has previously written for Science News, Wired, The Santa Cruz Sentinel, the radio show Big Picture Science and other places. Tanya has lived on a tropical island, witnessed volcanic eruptions and flown in zero gravity (without losing her lunch!). To find out what her latest project is, you can visit herwebsite.
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