Stephen Hawking, a renowned theoretical physicist says humans have less than 1,000 years on Earth before we are wiped out by extinction. He adds human will only survive if they plan to find another planet to live on.
He argued that humanity is less likely to survive all of the different crises we are to face in next millennium. But humans can avoid extinction, he said, if we have colonised other planets by that time, giving humanity a fighting chance away from our “fragile” Earth.
Stephen Hawking in his speech noted that the biggest challenges yet to come will be in next century, with threats such as climate change, potential nuclear terrorism, and the rise of artificial intelligence.
He says, “Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years, 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. We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity.
“I don’t think we will survive another 1000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”
He said: “There are a lot of children here and I would like to speak about what the future will be like when they are older. They have many things to look forward to such as the development of robots, driverless cars and computers that will win every game you play.”
He said: “I believe there is no deep difference between what can be achieved by a biological brain and what can be achieved by a computer. It, therefore, follows that computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence – and exceed it. Artificial intelligence is now progressing rapidly. Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars, or a computer winning at the game of Go, are signs of what is to come. Enormous levels of investment are pouring into this technology. The achievements we have seen so far will surely pale against what the coming decades will bring.”
Stephen Hawking went on: “The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve when our own minds are amplified by AI. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation.
“And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty.”
“Every aspect of our lives will be transformed, in short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation. But it could also be the last unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It will bring great disruption to our economy. And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own – a will that is in conflict with ours. In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which. That is why in 2014, I and a few others called for more research to be done in this area. I am very glad that someone was listening to me. The research done by this centre is crucial to the future of our civilisation and of our species. I wish you the best of luck.”