Stephen Hawking Says AI “Best or Worst Thing” for Humanity - Dispatch Weekly

October 20, 2016 - Reading time: 5 minutes

The famous cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, 74, has stated that AI will be “best or worst thing” for humanity at the Intelligence Center Launch, in Cambridge, UK on 19 October.

He added that AI would “transform” or destroy society, asserting that “computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence-and exceed it.”

The Dangers of AI

Professor Hawking said that the advances in AI could have many benefits such as stopping disease and poverty, but it would “also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons or new ways for the few to oppress the many.”

Hawking added:

 “It will bring great disruption to our economy, and in the future AI could develop a will of its own that is in conflict with ours.”

Last year Hawking signed an open letter along with 1,000 other experts and researchers, aware of the dangers of weapons.

Benefits and Massive Dangers of AI

Hawking said, “The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve, when our own minds are amplified by AI.”

“In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization.”

“But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.”

Advances in AI: 2009-2016

Since 2011 Apple’s Siri has made many advances. It is estimated that by 2018 virtual assistant services will be worth $5 billion, according to a report.

2009 saw Google introduce driver-less cars onto California roads. Today the industry for self-driving cars is massive with a range of car companies vying to become leaders in the field.

IHS predicts that annual sales between 2025 and 2035 will jump from 230,000 to 11.8 million, which is around 9% of all the world’s auto sales in 2035.

DeepMind has also made headlines becoming capable of teaching itself using information it already has which is a breakthrough in AI.

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence

Photo Credit:
Photo Credit:

The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence is a collaboration between the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College London and Berkeley in California.

Huw Price, the Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge and Director of the Centre, said:

“Machine intelligence will be one of the defining themes of our century, and the challenges of ensuring that we make good use of its opportunities are ones we all face together. At present, however, we have barely begun to consider its ramifications, good or bad”.

Stephen Hawking said, “We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity.”

“It is a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence.”

“Intelligence is central to what it means to be human.”

Is AI enhancing what it is to be human or dehumanizing us? Do you agree with Stephen Hawking about the possible danger?

DW Staff

David Lintott is the Editor-in-Chief, leading our team of talented freelance journalists. He specializes in covering culture, sport, and society. Originally from the decaying seaside town of Eastbourne, he attributes his insightful world-weariness to his roots in this unique setting.