Hawking: Artificial Intelligence Could Doom Us All

Human evolution too slow to compete, he says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 3, 2014 4:24 AM CST
Updated Dec 3, 2014 7:54 AM CST
Hawking: Smart Machines Could Doom Us All
Professor Stephen Hawking is seen during a press conference in London yesterday.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

Add artificial intelligence to aliens and the Higgs boson on the list of things Stephen Hawking thinks could wipe out the human race. "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," he told a BBC interviewer yesterday while discussing his communication software's first update in 20 years, which includes elements of AI. The physicist is very happy with the new software, but he warns that creating technology smarter than people could be a fatal mistake. "It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he says. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."

The creator of the Cleverbot AI chat app, however, tells the BBC that he's more optimistic. Full artificial intelligence will arrive within decades, he predicts, but until it does, "we can't know if we'll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it." In another interview, Hawking revealed that he thinks he would make a great Bond villain. "My [ideal] role would be a baddie in a James Bond film," he jokes in a soon-to-be-published Wired interview, the Telegraph reports. "I think the wheelchair and the computer voice would fit the part." He says he enjoys communicating science to people and has kept the speech synthesizer's American voice instead of a British one because it is "now my trademark." (More Stephen Hawking stories.)

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