Stephen Hawking: Artificial Intelligence Could ‘Replace Humans Altogether’ In The Future

It might not be the first time he’s made such an ominous warning, but esteemed physicist Stephen Hawking said that artificial intelligence has the potential to outperform, and ultimately replace humans at some point in the future.

Earlier this week, Hawking was interviewed by Wired magazine for its December 2017 issue, with his statements cited by several publications, including the Daily Mail. Echoing and further elaborating on previous concerns, Hawking warned that humanity may one day be able to design a form of artificial intelligence that serves as an improved version of actual human life. He didn’t specify any timelines, but nonetheless stressed that people should take greater interest in science due to his warning, lest “serious consequences” take place in the word as we know it.

“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” said Hawking.

“If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

Stephen Hawking’s AI warnings come about six months after he had amended his predictions for the extinction of mankind. As previously noted by Popular Science, Hawking originally predicted that humanity will have to colonize other planets within the next 1,000 years in order to survive, but had changed his prediction in May, saying that we might have only about a hundred years to do so, due to the ongoing problems of climate change, disease, and overpopulation, as well as the potential of Earth being hit by asteroids.

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In relation to his previous statements about the need to colonize other planets, Hawking told Wired about the importance of developing a new space program that could potentially help colonize “suitable planets for human habitation.”

“I believe we have reached the point of no return. Our Earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.”

Prior to this week’s interview with Wired, Stephen Hawking expressed his concerns about artificial intelligence in October 2016, saying that it’s possible AI could develop a human-like sense of free will that might not align with humanity’s goals. According to the Daily Mail, Hawking was quoted as saying that such free will could lead to the design of autonomous weapons and new “ways for the few to oppress the many.” He also stressed that more research is needed to prevent such dangers from manifesting in the future.

“It therefore follows that computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence – and exceed it,” Hawking said.

Despite Stephen Hawking’s obvious concerns about artificial intelligence, which were also touched on in a report earlier today from the Inquisitr, he also made it clear that the technology has many benefits in theory, and could possibly undo “some of the damage” that industrialization had wrought upon the world in previous decades. He concluded his interview by saying that creating AI could be a landmark event in the history of humanity, and possibly the biggest ever, but it could also be the last such event unless people “learn how to avoid the risks.”

[Featured Image by Dave J. Hogan/Getty Images]