Stephen Hawking, the world-famous physicist had said in an interview said that the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race….It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate. Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded.
Artificial intelligence as a threat to humanity used to be one of his warnings. In his last writings, published on 16 October this year, finished by his family with collaboration with his colleagues, Hawking talked about how he thinks technology could risk humanity, among some other issues.
Hawking, an inspiration to innumerable theoretical astrophysicists and cosmologists, had always warned us about the threats by AI. In his last book Brief Answers to the Big Questions (Hodder & Stoughton, 2018), he talks about everything from AI to aliens.
But one of the most important things that he talks about is the superhumans replacing the regular humans. By superhumans, he means “genetically re-engineered” humans. He talks about the genetic editing of humans in the future and that destroying the current humanity entirely. We already have CHRISPR-Cas9 to modify our genes at a remarkable level. He was of the opinion that people would find ways to modify something as difficult as intelligence and aggression by using wonders of genetic engineering and it will not take a long time to achieve that. It may also enhance disease resistance and longevity. We also have a research which showed the possibility of genetically modifying an embryo to treat a heart disease.
His paper also says the possibility of AI building a will of its own in the future, a will that will conflict the fill of us humans, and that in the next 1,000 years, major environmental calamity or a nuclear war will ‘cripple the Earth’. Many computer scientists today do believe that consciousness will arise from AI.
In the past, Google in its project called AutoML had created an AI system that had created its own child AI which surpassed in its own creator’s performance. This requires an AI to understand how it works and since this is a possibility now, we could very well care the downside of consciousness in AI in the future.
The physicist’s own machine that was made for him to be able to communicate was based on AI, but he feared that the development and widespread of this technology can very well be a threat to the entire human race in the future.
Hawking was concerned about the advent of Superhuman AI which will be able to not just depict human intellect, but also expand it. He said that the technology will surpass humans and enable them to not just do what humans are capable of, but also learn and grow, eventually surpassing humans in their abilities. He stated in the book that AI will overtake humans in intelligence during the next 100 years. But humans will need to ensure that the AI must have the same goals as us.