Science & Tech

Stephen Hawking asked about humanity's future, gives depressing answer

(Picture: Ian Gavan/Getty Images
(Picture: Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Stephen Hawking has said we should be more afraid of capitalism than robots in the future.

Speaking in a Reddit AMA this week, the famous physicist said that income equality will skyyrocket in generations to come as more jobs will become automated and the rich owners of machines will refuse to redistribute wealth.

He was asked whether he thought technological advances would cause large scale unemployment and whether humans would continue to invent new jobs, or if we would reach a point where most of societal work was predominately automated, negating the need for paid work.

Hawking answered:

If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.

So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

A recent report from Oxford University found that 35 per cent of current jobs in the UK are at high risk of computerisation over the next 20 years.

The BBC have produced an interactive tool which allows you to see the supposed threat level to your field of work, according to the study, which is well worth a visit.

(H/T Reddit)

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