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Stephen Hawking left us with a jarring warning about AI

The final comments Stephen Hawking wrote on Reddit went deep.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Mar 14, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 9:48 pm CDT

Stephen Hawking, the brilliant theoretical physicist and cosmologist, died on Wednesday morning at his home in Cambridge, England, at the age of 76, leaving behind generations of people he inspired to think beyond the stars.

Reddit users paid homage to the famed scientist by creating a thread on the r/science board, a place where anyone could voice their appreciation for the beloved figure without judgment. The original post contained a link to an AMA (Ask Me Anything) Hawking hosted in 2016, the last before his passing.

The chat focused on artificial intelligence, an emerging technology Hawking feared. In 2015, Hawking joined more than 1,000 high-profile researchers to sign an open letter calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons” enabled by AI.

In the top AMA response, Hawking warned about its dangers, “A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with outs, we’re in trouble,” he wrote.

When asked whether we should fear AI now or in the future, Hawking said we’re still far away, but need to prepare despite not knowing when “human-level” intelligence will arrive.

One redditor asked Hawking if it’s even possible for the creation to outsmart the creator. Hawking said if we’re not careful, machines could exceed our intelligence “by more than ours exceeds that of snails.”

In a more lighthearted response, Hawking gave his favorite movie and song of all time: “Have I Told You Lately” by Rod Stewart and Jules et Jim, respectively. He was also a fan of the Big Bang Theory.

In his briefest answer, Hawking said he doesn’t remember watching Wayne’s World 2 with a Reddit user.

In another ominous outlook to the future, Hawking said automation will either result in everyone living in luxury or a steeper wealth gap, and things are leaning toward the latter.

Hawking twice referenced famed computer scientist Steve Omohundro who theorized that AI could develop its own drive to survive.

And lastly, Hawking revealed his biggest mystery: women.

You can read the full Reddit AMA on this link. If you want to learn more about one the most respected scientists of our time, we recommend reading his landmark novel, “A Brief History of Time.”

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*First Published: Mar 14, 2018, 2:25 pm CDT