Science & Tech

Stephen Hawking issued a chilling warning to humanity before he died

Stephen Hawking issued a chilling warning to humanity before he died
Stephen Hawking has a terrifying warning about artificial intelligence

Physicist Stephen Hawking had a stark warning to humanity before his death about the capabilities and threat of artificial intelligence.

The astrophysicist died in 2018, but before his death, he gave us a warning about how humanity might fall, including a warning against trying to communicate with alien civilisations.

Way before most of us knew what artificial intelligence even was, Hawking was already one step ahead in trying to warn us about what a future with AI could bring.

In a BBC interview in 2014, Hawking warned: “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

While the technology was only just beginning to emerge, Hawking had the foresight to theorise how it might develop and impact our lives, especially if it exceeds human intelligence.

He explained: “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate.”

Hawking added: “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

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It wasn’t the last time that the astrophysicist warned us about AI.

In 2015, Hawking was one of around 100 experts to sign an open letter to the United Nations warning of the dangers of unmonitored AI development. And, in 2017, the year before his death, he told the magazine Wired, “I fear AI may replace humans altogether”.

In his book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, released just months after his death, he elaborated on the threat even more, writing: “We may face an intelligence explosion that ultimately results in machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails.”

He continued: “It’s tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction, but this would be a mistake - and potentially our worst mistake ever.”

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