Stephen Hawking Answers Questions About AI, Favorite Media, Greatest Mysteries On Reddit

Professor Stephen Hawking has been participating in the Ask Me Anything subreddit over the past few months, answering questions ranging from the potential impact of artificial intelligence to his favorite music.

In July, Stephen Hawking joined such noteworthy thinking luminaries as Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, and Noam Chomsky, among over 20,000 others, in signing an open letter aimed at raising awareness about the potential negative side effects of AI. The Inquisitr has reported on a split between Elon Musk and the scientific community, with regard to comments Musk made on how to alter Mars to suit the needs of humankind, since his signing of the letter.

Stephen Hawking’s scientific credentials, however, remain beyond reproach. Hawking is widely hailed as one of the greatest theoretical physicists of all-time, and as such, much of his work is difficult to prove with empirically gathered evidence. Though Hawking has won many awards and is held in admiration by most scientists, he has never won a Nobel Prize, reports Quora.

Still, when Stephen Hawking speaks, people listen. And while AI isn’t Hawking’s specialty, he certainly has the intellect to analyze the conclusions drawn by those who are and deliver what he feels are the most important points.

Stephen Hawking at a July 2015 press conference.

Hawking answers that if someday “machines produce everything we need,” how this will effect humanity depends on how the wealth generated by machines is split up among the population. Hawking presents two scenarios, one where everyone can live a “luxurious life” and another where people who own machines successfully stop “wealth redistribution,” keeping all of the benefits for themselves.

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

Hawking took heat from some for this comment, with one venture capitalist stating that Hawking was making himself look “silly.” While the argument against Hawking’s thoughts holds up reasonably well when examining the past several hundred years, going back even further in history would seem to, at least partially, back up Hawking’s point of view. Technology did not save the Romans; and while humanity continued to march forward through the Dark Ages, there was an undeniable giant step backward for the Romans coinciding with a, perhaps smaller, step forward for their slaves, for close to 1,000 years. The BBC offers causes and effects of the fall of Rome.