Last year, Stephen Hawking’s “extinction of mankind” theory suggested that we may need to leave Earth within the next 1,000 years before life on our planet ceases to exist. But a new documentary suggests that the British physicist has an even more dire extinction prediction these days, one that points to humanity possibly lasting only another hundred years, and one that may require a greater sense of urgency as far as humans possibly colonizing Mars is concerned.
Late last year, Stephen Hawking’s timeline for the extinction of mankind was established at about 1,000 years, as he spoke at a lecture about the need to colonize other planets within that time before Earth becomes uninhabitable. According to Science Alert, Hawking cited “powerful autonomous weapons” as one of the biggest threats against mankind, which added to previous comments that suggested artificial intelligence may be “either the best, or the worst” thing to happen to our species
At the time Hawking made those remarks, he had added that living in Mars might not be a plausible idea until another century from now. But teasers for his upcoming documentary suggest that mankind might not have that luxury of time anymore.
According to a report from the Telegraph, Hawking’s new documentary, Expedition New Earth, will be broadcast on BBC’s upcoming reboot of its iconic Tomorrow’s World series. This documentary will feature the 75-year-old scientist making an adjustment to his original prediction, suggesting that we may only have about 100 years to leave Earth, as “overpopulation, climate change, disease, and artificial intelligence” combine to threaten humanity with extinction.
A release from the BBC quoted by Newsweek adds that Expedition New Earth will also be featuring engineering professor Danielle George and Hawking’s former student, Christophe Galfard, as the three combine to discuss how humans can move to other planets and avoid impending doom on Earth.
“The journey shows that Prof Hawking’s ambition isn’t as fantastical as it sounds—that science fact is closer to science fiction than we ever thought.”
Stephen Hawking’s new extinction prediction suggests that time is quickly running out, but as Newsweek pointed out, there are a few ongoing efforts to colonize Mars and see if the Red Planet can be taken over by humans at some point in the future. These include efforts on the part of Elon Musk and his space transport company SpaceX, which may start in 2020 with a mission designed to test systems for landing heavy equipment on the planet’s surface, according to Futurism.
Newser wrote in September 2016 that Elon Musk ideally wants to see humans colonizing Mars within the next 50 to 150 years. And, just like Stephen Hawking, he also has an extinction prediction of sorts, albeit one without even a rough timeline, as Futurism added in its report.
“We will stay on Earth forever, and eventually there will be an extinction event…and the alternative is to become a spacefaring and multiplanetary species—That’s what we want.”
Likewise, American space agency NASA also has plans to have humans colonize Mars in the future, with hopes that it could send astronauts to the Red Planet by the 2030s. The agency’s website does stress that there’s still a lot of work to be done, including checking on Martian oxygen levels and other atmospheric features through its Mars 2020 rover mission. This is essential, as it would allow NASA to see if microbial life exists, or used to exist on Mars, and if it is even possible for humans to take over the planet once the time comes.
Despite the apparent radical change to Stephen Hawking’s extinction forecast for humanity, it’s still worth mentioning that when he made his original prediction, he said that the chances of extinction events happening “in a given year” are still very low, and that humanity has somehow “triumphed” in “(coming) this close to understanding the laws that govern us and the universe.”
[Featured Image by Bryan Bedder – Stringer/Getty Images]