Stephen Hawking’s Concern about AI

Professor Stephen Hawking has made it obvious that he is sure artificial intelligence will be the end of mankind. As a devoted British scientist, he is well aware of the dangers associated with concentrating on robotics too much in the name of making life easy and convenient. He spoke to BBC saying, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

What triggered his public announcement concerning his opinion towards artificial intelligence is the creation of Al, a robot with the ability to communicate and think on its own. Stephen maintained that such inventions like Al could translate to mankind’s self destruction. He attended the opening ceremony of Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) held at Cambridge University where he went on to answer some of the questions raised about the Al research. He said, “We spend a great deal of time studying history,” Hawking said, “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

Why the negative prophecy?

Many developed countries have embraced the use of robotics that they cannot imagine declining an offer for more artificial development for fear of being surpassed by the machines. Stephen’s highlights may point one to the reasons he feels the way he does. First of all he observes that Al may just become too brilliant for a normal human being to handle. When the creation becomes too much for the creator, danger is never far away.


Secondly, super intelligent robots will make us be like little ants. He says this in reference to their competence, “The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence,” Professor Hawking said. “A super intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble”. He gives an illustration of human beings versus ants. We respect their existence and presence on earth but when a big projects needs to happen for instance at a molehill, ants will be the last thing on our minds. The more we allow machines to rule over us, the easier it will be for them to destroy us.

Hawking has also been quick to point out that Al could bring around some benefits to the human race one of which is mind amplification. With the new minds enhanced by machines, some of the evils done on the planet such as industrialization can be undone. Issues such as disease and poverty may be eradicated too. The world-renowned scientist said Al could totally change our lives for the better.

Although robots will replace the human workforce, wealth creation will cater for that as Stephen observes. This benefit can only be determined on how leaders share the wealth created with its citizens.  “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution”. He said.

So much talk about Al has circulated the world but according to the Stephen, no one knows when the reality will fully set in. He warns people to be cautious concerning careless talk about who will unveil artificial intelligence saying it might take decades to be launched. The truth of the matter according to Hawking is that artificial intelligence could be the worst or the best thing that happened to humanity. This is the reason we must get everything about it right, he says, because it will literary transform the world.


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