Artificial intelligence is quite likely to ‘replace humans altogether’, Stephen Hawking has warned (again).
Thursday 2 Nov 2017
By: Jen Mills
Human development of robots and computers will eventually reach a tipping point when it will become a ‘new form of life that will outperform humans’, the Cambridge physicist said.
‘If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself.’
The professor, 75, has previously said he does not see a fundamental difference between a what a human brain and a computer can achieve, so it follows that at some point the machines can become better than us.
If it’s not machines crushing us in their drive for efficiency, it will probably be our own incompetence at managing planet earth, he said in the same interview with Wired magazine.
‘I believe we have reached the point of no return,’ he said.
‘Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.’
We urgently need more young people to get interested in researching space, he said, so we can colonise other planets and save our species.
It’s not the first time Stephen Hawking has sounded the doomsday bell about artificial intelligence.
In 2015, he said that robots we design could crush humanity like an anthill.
‘The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence,’ he said. ‘A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.’
He’s also said we should prepare to leave earth in 100 years, and that a ‘world government’ could be our only hope.
Unfortunately, though, politics is also a grave threat to humanity right now, he believes.
Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord could ‘push earth over the brink’, he said.
Speaking on his 75th birthday, he said: ‘We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of 250C, and raining sulphuric acid.’
He also said the Brexit vote sealed his pessimism in our species, saying the UK chose ‘personal wealth’ over the greater good to share and collaborate on an international scale.
‘The forces that contributed to Brexit, the envy and isolationism not just in the UK but around the world that spring from not sharing, of cultures driven by a narrow definition of wealth and a failure to divide it more fairly, both within nations and across national borders, will strengthen,’ he said.
‘If that were to happen, I would not be optimistic about the long term outlook for our species.’