Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking ain't afraid of no black holes, but you know what he's afraid of? Artificial intelligence.
In his op-ed at The Independent, Hawking noted the release of the new Hollywood movie Transcendence starring Johnny Depp and Morgan Freeman and opined that Artificial Intelligence or AI has huge potential. Hawking called "success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history" - but warned that it could also be humanity's last achivement:
One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.
If Hawking is already terrified about the role of AI in the future of humanity over the Transcendence movie, let's hope he's never seen the Terminator franchise. Read the rest of Hawking's op-ed over at The Independent. (Photo: 20100/Wikimedia)
As for being long gone.. with recent advances in quantum tech (http://www.scienceworldreport.com/articles/13946/20140410/new-atom-photon-switch-herald-breakthrough-quantum-computers.htm) we'll certainly have the tech to create an AI in a decade or less.
I just think this is a natural evolutionary step for our planet and consciousness. We are a byproduct of the planet's growth, so too are machines. We have done nothing but lay waste to the living order from which were spawned. It is only logical to see the progression continue from us. A kind gentle AI that will give humanity a utopian existence? Pollyanna wishes. It will behave exactly as the process from which it was spawned... only more-so. I think it would be, in all likelihood, be better to be at ground zero when it begins the extermination process. Ellison was very prophetic in his vision of this.