Professor Stephen Hawking expressed concern about the future of human race, as milestones reached in science and technology directly and indirectly threat to wipe out humanity.
Prof. Hawking believes scientific advancements have us believed there is bright future ahead of us, when in fact so many things can go wrong when powerful technologies, developed to serve a greater good, are bitterly exploited.
But this is not the only case of Prof. Hawking cautioning humans about what is likely to happen. Last summer, for example, the genius theoretical physicist signed an open letter about the weaponization of robots and the ongoing "military artificial intelligence arms race" among the world's leading military powers - the letter was also signed by over 1,000 artificial intelligence experts, including Elon Musk (Tesla Motors, SpaceX), Eric Horvitz (Microsoft), and Peter Norvig (Google). The letter warned about autonomous weaponry, which could, despite being created for use in "legal" warfare, fall into hands of terrorists to be used in terroristic attacks.
Collectively, nuclear war, global warming and genetically-engineered viruses, all spiced up with a touch of greedy capitalists is what should concern us all the most, according to Prof. Hawking, who appeared on BBC Reith Lectures, exploring our current knowledge and speculations on black holes. During the lectures, many questions arose from the audience and the Professor answered with some mighty words of wisdom.
"Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years." Human race will be able to survive, should it successfully inhabit other worlds, or in other words, colonize other planets. "However, we will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period."
Extinction of the human race could also be prompted by artificial intelligence (AI). It may come as an oxymoron to some that such a renowned scientist is speaking against technological and scientific advancements, however – robots that will be able to 'outsmart' men is not science fiction anymore, it has now become a rather probable scenario of our not so very distant future. "It's important to ensure that these changes are heading in the right directions. In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future."
Despite his grim predictions, Prof. Hawking remains an optimist (as should we). "We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognise the dangers and control them. I'm an optimist, and I believe we can," he stated. "From my own perspective, it has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. There is nothing like the Eureka moment of discovering something that no one knew before."
According to BBC, Prof. Hawking's first Reith Lecture will be broadcast on 26 January and on 2 February at 9am on BBC Radio 4. BBC World Service listeners can tune in on 26 January at 15:06 GMT and 2 February at 15:06 GMT or catch up online here.
We wouldn't miss it for the world!