Professor Stephen Hawking predicts that the human race could be wiped out within the next 100 years, and it is because of our own doing. Before his lectures regarding black holes for the BBC Reith Lecture, 74-year-old Hawking discussed the dangers the Earth is facing. He pointed out the dangers of genetically-engineered viruses, global warming, and nuclear war, explaining that developments in science and technology will only add to the risks, as they provide ways on how “things can go wrong.”
According to Hawking, the chance of planet Earth experiencing a disaster that could wipe-out the human race is low, but it “adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years,” Yahoo News reports.
However, Stephen Hawking also points out that the human race is not completely doomed, assuming that we can successfully establish and thrive in a colony in other worlds.
“By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.”
Hawking pointed out, via Wired, that the first best target for human colonization would be the moon, as he says it is “relatively close and easy to reach.” The moon would then serve as a base for humans to reach and colonize other places in the solar system, such as Mars.
Hawking also points out that establishing a colony on other planets will not come within the next hundred years, so he issues a warning, according to BBC News, saying that “we have to be very careful in this period.”
Since the progress in science and technology cannot be stopped or reversed, Stephen Hawking calls for recognizing the dangers they pose and thinking of ways on how to control them.
“In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future. So communicate plainly what you are trying to do in science, and how knows, you might even end up understanding it yourself.”
This is not the first time Stephen Hawking talked about the wipeout of the human race. In October of last year, Hawking stated that machines with artificial intelligence can be the humankind’s destruction, as they could become too clever. When asked about “evil AI” in a Reddit AMA, Hawking said that the problem with artificial intelligence is not “malice but competence,” as reported by the Independent.
“A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.
Stephen Hawking further stated that the world may experience an “intelligence explosion,” wherein machines with artificial intelligence improve themselves further and exceed the intelligence of humans. Despite his warning, Hawking said that the event could either be “the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity.”
As a result of his predictions, many think that Stephen Hawking has a pessimistic view. However, he said that he is just sharing his thoughts.
“Just because I spend a lot of time thinking doesn’t mean I don’t like parties and getting into trouble.”
Stephen Hawking’s BBC Reith Lecture was delivered on January 7, and it will be broadcast on January 26 and February 2 at 9 a.m. on Radio 4.
What are your thoughts on Stephen Hawking’s prediction? Share your thoughts below.
[Photo by Ted S. Warren/AP]