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Robots Will Overtake Human Intelligence Within 100 Years, Warns Stephen Hawking

14 May 2015, 6:58 pm EDT By James Maynard Tech Times
Artificial intelligence could destroy human civilization within a century, warns physicist Stephen Hawking. What can be done to control the threat from AI?  ( Jlmaral | Flickr )

Artificial intelligence could end human civilization within a century, warns famed physicist Stephen Hawking. The popular scientist made his remarks on May 12, at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference, held in London, England.

Back in January, Hawking signed an open letter, along with private space entrepreneur and developer Elon Musk, warning about the dangers of artificial intelligence. The pair called for control of technology, fearing repercussions for the human race if progress in computing power is left unchecked.

"Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours," Hawking stated.

Facebook, Google and other developers are currently working on new systems that would enhance artificial intelligence. More than 150 companies in Silicon Valley alone are working on developing the new technologies which can be found in electronics such as the virtual assistant Siri and self-driving vehicles. Hawking, Musk, and others are concerned that this development could have grave consequences for the future of the human race.

In April, a report from Harvard Law School and the Human Rights Watch organization called for a binding international agreement prohibiting the development, production, or use of fully autonomous weapons. In December 2014, Hawking predicted that the full development of artificial intelligence could result in the extinction of the human race.

A company called Touchpoint is developing a form of artificial intelligence they are describing as "The world's angriest robot." The system is designed so that banks can learn why customers become upset. Known as Radiant, the AI is reminiscent of Prime Radiant, a fictional cube from Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, capable of predicting human behavior.

Hawking suggested that AI developers could coordinate research between institutions to ensure that artificial intelligence technology does not grow so fast that it cannot be controlled by humans.

A robot apocalypse could take place some day, such as that seen in the Terminator series of movies. Hawking believes that such a scenario could play out in the next 10 decades, if steps are not taken to keep technology within control of human beings.

Many science fiction stories are based on the idea of computers becoming smarter than people. Electronic systems can already beat the best chess players in the world, and Carnegie Mellon University's Claudico AI came close to beating humans in No-Limit Texas Hold 'Em poker earlier this month.

"Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it," Hawking told the assembled crowd at the conference.

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