Stephen Hawking: ‘Artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race’

3 Dec 2014

Prof Stephen Hawking has warned of the potential dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), asserting that the technology “could spell the end of the human race”.

The famed theoretical physicist’s comments came in response to a question posed by the BBC about improvements to the technology developed by Intel that he uses to communicate, which uses a basic form of AI.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” said Hawking.

“It would take off on its own, and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

The 72-year-old’s comments come just weeks after Tesla Motors chairman Elon Musk warned AI could be the human race’s “biggest existential threat”.

“I think we should be very careful about artificial intelligence. If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that. So we need to be very careful with artificial intelligence,” said Musk.

“I’m increasingly inclined to think that there should be some regulatory oversight, maybe at the national and international level, just to make sure that we don’t do something very foolish.

“With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon. You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and he’s like – yeah, he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.”

The duo’s worries remind us all, of course, of the plot of the Terminator movie series, when evil machines take over the world and send a cyborg back in time to the era of hair metal and Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1984) to kill the mother of the man who leads the human resistance.

Artificial intelligence image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic