Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has warned that mankind is facing threats from new technology strides and will imperil their survival.
Listing the threats, Hawking said there are too many, ranging from climate change to mass species extinction. The physicist noted that humans have achieved many big feats because of technological advances. Now those gains are augmenting their demise.
The technology overkill can bring about mass species extinction, an excess of artificial intelligence and unbearable global warming. Amid the despondency, the physicist exuded optimism that a calamity can be avoided if humanity shuns a parochial outlook and works toward a world government.
Hope Amid Grim Outlook
Noting that aggression is hard-wired into human genes by Darwinian evolution, Hawking said the advancement of technology has added more fangs to it and destruction of the human race by a nuclear or biological war cannot be ruled out.
"Since civilization began, aggression has been useful inasmuch as it has definite survival advantages," the scientist said.
"We need to control this inherited instinct by our logic and reason," Hawking added.
Hawking has made news in the past as well with apocalyptic prophecies suggesting that humankind may only have 1,000 years left on Earth and they must seek out another planet to occupy.
Despite the turmoil, he maintains hope that there is scope for harmony if everyone worked together to identify the threats and actions are taken before things go out of control.
"This might mean some form of world government," he said.
Fear Of Artificial Intelligence
In late 2016, Hawking had called the creation of artificial intelligence as "either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity."
"We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity. So it's a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence," Hawking said.
A few years ago, he warned that the development of AI could "spell the end of the human race." His concerns were also shared by Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Steve Wozniak who signed a letter along with 8,000 leading researchers and scientists warning that the danger of artificial intelligence is many times bigger than nuclear weapons.
Living Proof Of Survival Against Odds
The intrinsic hope on humanity's goodness is a manifestation of Professor Hawking's own battle for survival as he is considered a living proof of struggle against many odds. At the age of 25, he was given a couple of years to live. But in February 2017, the famous scientist celebrated his 75th birthday.
Hawking said he is happy with the life he had and looking forward to the future with expectations.
He said he traveled widely, visited Antarctica and met the presidents of Korea, China, India, Ireland, Chile and the United States and had meetings with four Popes.
"I have been down in a submarine, and up on a zero gravity flight in preparation for the flight into space that I'm still hoping to make it on Virgin Galactic. It is a great time to be alive," Hawking recalled.
What Will AI Do?
Meanwhile, the concerns expressed by many experts including Hawking has strengthened the debate what all functions an AI-induced machine can do and when it will happen.
It is expected that 2050 will be a watershed year when artificial intelligence will perform the intellectual tasks. According to a survey presented at a recent AI conference, such machines can perform any activity that a human has performed till date.
Some of the everyday human stuff that AI machines will do include the following.
• Recognize objects in images
• Navigate a map of the London underground
• Transcribe speech better than professional transcribers
• Translation from one language to another
• Picking out a paragraph that answers a question
• Recognize emotions from images of faces
• Recognize emotions in speech
• Drive vehicles
• Fly a drone
• Predict parking difficulty by area
• Discover new uses for current drugs
• Spot cancer in tissue slides better than humans
• Identify diabetic retinopathy that causes blindness
• Analyze genetic code of DNA to detect genomic conditions
• Solve quantum state of many particles instantly