Robots To Seize Control In 100 Years, Says Stephen Hawking

Movie fans who have watched the Avengers: Age of Ultron film may shift uncomfortably in their seats, after a warning about our robot future from renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.

Widely considered to be one of the greatest minds on the planet, Professor Stephen Hawking has reiterated his warning that artificial intelligence could spell the end of life as we know it on Planet Earth.

Judgement Day

It was last December when Professor Hawking, who is wheel-chair bound by the medical condition motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), first warned of the perils of robots and artificial intelligence. He suggested at the time that mankind faces judgement day.

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he told the BBC. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

And now Professor Hawking has gone one step further and speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, predicted that humanity has just 100 years left before the machines take over.

“Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours,” Professor Hawking was reported as saying by Techworld. “Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.”

Professor Hawking is not alone in his disquiet about the future with robots equipped with artificial intelligence. Last October, Elon Musk, the South Africa-born inventor and entrepreneur best known as the co-founder of PayPal and chief executive of both SpaceX and Tesla Motors, warned against the dangers of artificial intelligence (AI), describing it as an “existential threat”.

Musk compared the construction of artificial minds to the calling up of unknown forces that could easily go beyond the inventor’s control.

Grim Future?

“With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon,” Musk said. “You know those stories where there’s the guy with the pentagram, and the holy water, and … he’s sure he can control the demon? Doesn’t work out.”

Earlier this year Professor Hawking joined Elon Musk, and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, in signing an open letter drafted by the Future of Life Institute.

In the letter, they argued that AI development should not go on uncontrolled.

It said that there must be safeguards on intelligent machines, but admits that AI research will have a growing impact on society.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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