In celebration of his 75th birthday, the author and cosmologist gave a rare interview to The Times in which he said that since the beginning of civilisation “aggression has been useful inasmuch as it has definite survival advantages.” He went on to add, “Now, however, technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war.”
He outlined his concern about artificial intelligence and how this technology could replace humans. “We need to be quicker to identify such threats and act before they get out of control,” he said to The Times. “This might mean some form of world government. But that might become a tyranny. All this may sound a bit doom-laden but I am an optimist. I think the human race will rise to meet these challenges,” he further stated.
In 1963 when Hawking was only 21, he was diagnosis with a rare slow-progressing form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) or motor neurone disease and was given two years to live. The years since have led to him becoming paralysed and the eventual loss of his ability to write and speak. Today he communicates by a speech-generating device that is connected to a single cheek muscle.
This is not the first time though that he has made these apocalyptic remarks. In late 2014, Hawking told the BBC, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” More recently, speaking at the opening of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University in October last year, he warned that the creation of powerful AI will be “either the best or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity.”
As AI moves to take centre stage in the connected world, we are putting ourselves at risk of becoming obliterated by our robotic Frankensteins.
What are your thoughts? I’m interested to hear which side you’re on, please leave a comment.
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