Yesterday in The Guardian newspaper Professor Stephen Hawking said we need to work together to tackle the many issues humans have caused our planet. In the article, Hawking spoke out against climate change and threats to employment through AI and robot automation. He believes that we now have technology which could be capable of destroying our planet, and he wishes to warn us of the problems we may soon face.
Professor Hawking deeply believes that we are living in what could potentially be the most dangerous time for the human race. He states that overpopulation, climate change and diseases are only some of the factors threatening us with extinction – the technology we have created to automate our industrial processes should prompt us to “retrain” for a new world where robots can do everyday jobs.
Hawking explained, “For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity.We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it. Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.”
The famous physicist has previously spoken of his concerns that robots could wipe out humanity and believes that a mass exodus from Earth is our only chance of survival. Earlier this year he stated, “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space.” Speaking on BBC Radio 4 in January 2016 as part of the annual Reith Lecture series, he expressed similar concerns.
In July, Professor Stephen Hawking and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk led 1,000 robotics experts in an open letter warning that “autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow.”
In 2015, Elon Musk said, “The probable life span of human civilization is much greater if we’re a multi-planet species as opposed to a single-planet species. If we’re a single planet species, then eventually there will be some extinction event.” Musk hopes to remedy this situation with his company SpaceX, that plans to send humans into space soon.
Earlier in 2016, Professor Hawking said that creating AI “would be the biggest event in human history, unfortunately, it might also be the last.” He does also see the benefits of this technology in the fight against war, disease and poverty, stating, “Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved. There is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains.”