Stephen Hawking relies on an intelligent system that allows him to communicate. Despite this, the famed cosmologist has concerns over what this type of technology, which uses artificial intelligence (AI), could bring to mankind.
In an interview with BBC, the theoretical physicist warned that efforts to develop thinking machines could spell doom for our own existence. Hawking's remarks came in response to a question regarding the revamp of the technology that he relies on to communicate, which involves a form of AI.
The scientist suffers from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, and this condition necessitates him to use a system that enables him to speak. The system that he currently uses was developed by Intel and British company Swiftkey. The program, which uses Hawking's famous robotic voice, learns how the scientist thinks and even suggests words that Hawking may use next.
While Hawking does not deny the many benefits offered by artificial intelligence -- acknowledging that the primitive form of AI has proven useful -- he thinks that further refinements of the technology could have a negative impact on the human race.
"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," Hawking said. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."
It is not the first time that Hawking expressed his negative views of artificial intelligence. In May, the scientist enumerated several effects of the advancements in AI and pointed out the negative consequences these may produce.
"One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand," Hawking wrote. "Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all."
Hawking also isn't the only person fearing an AI-related doomsday. Last month, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk caught attention for a comment that was posted (and later deleted) on a website that revealed his fears of progress in the field of artificial intelligence, which he thinks could potentially lead to mankind's doom in the near future.
Other notable personalities who share the same views on AI include James Barrat, who wrote Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, mathematician Vernor Vinge and University of Oxford's director of the Future of Humanity Institute Nick Bostrom.