Stephen Hawking said there is no such thing as an afterlife but that computers might one day create something close to it.
Speaking at a premiere of a documentary about his life, Hawking said that one day the brain could be inputted on a computer, essentially allowing part of a person to live forever.
“I think the brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer,” Hawking said at an appearance at the Cambridge Film Festival. “So it’s theoretically possible to copy the brain on to a computer and so provide a form of life after death.”
The idea is not unique to Stephen Hawking, who admitted that the idea is a long way from being put into practice. Futurist Ray Kurzweil has predicted that one day human thought will be able to be uploaded onto a computer, creating programs that would predict how a given person would react to a situation. So humans of the future could in theory consult a program that would show how dead economists would treat a given financial crisis.
But Hawking shared more controversial ideas, saying “the conventional afterlife is a fairy tale for people afraid of the dark.”
It is an idea he has shared before. In a 2011 interview, he expressed the same sentiment almost word-for-word.
“There is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he said.
In his 2010 book Grand Design, Hawking argued against the existence of a creator, saying it was “not necessary to invoke God… to get the universe going.”
The documentary explores the early life of Stephen Hawking including his days as a student. It delves into his family life including his first marriage to wife Jane and how it fell apart.