Artificial intelligence 'could be the worst thing to happen to humanity': Stephen Hawking warns that rise of robots may be disastrous for mankind

Nobel Prize-winning physicist discusses Jonny Depp's film Transcendence
He says dismissing the film as sci-fi could be the ‘worst mistake in history’
‘AI would be biggest event in human history,’ he wrote in the Independent. ‘It might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks’

A sinister threat is brewing deep inside the technology laboratories of Silicon Valley.

Artificial Intelligence, disguised as helpful digital assistants and self-driving vehicles, is gaining a foothold – and it could one day spell the end for mankind.

This is according to Stephen Hawking who has warned that humanity faces an uncertain future as technology learns to think for itself and adapt to its environment.


Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence has the potential to be the downfall of mankind. 'Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history,' he said writing in the Independent. 'Unfortunately, it might also be the last'

In an article written in the Independent, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist discusses Jonny Depp's latest film Transcendence, which delves into a world where computers can surpass the abilities of humans.

Professor Hawking said dismissing the film as science fiction could be the ‘worst mistake in history’.

He argues that developments in digital personal assistants Siri, Google Now and Cortana are merely symptoms of an IT arms race which ‘pale against what the coming decades will bring.’

But Professor Hawking notes that other potential benefits of this technology could also be significant, with the potential to eradicate, war, disease and poverty.


Professor Hawking discusses Jonny Depp's latest film Transcendence, which delves into a world where computers can surpass the abilities of humans. Professor Hawking said dismissing the film as science fiction could be the 'worst mistake in history'


GOOGLE SETS UP AI ETHICS BOARD TO CURB THE RISE OF THE ROBOTS
Google has set up an ethics board to oversee its work in artificial intelligence.
The search giant has recently bought several robotics companies, along with Deep Mind, a British firm creating software that tries to help computers think like humans.
One of its founders warned artificial intelligence is  'number 1 risk for this century,' and believes it could play a part in human extinction
'Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,' DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in a recent interview.
Among all forms of technology that could wipe out the human species, he singled out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the 'number 1 risk for this century.'
The ethics board, revealed by web site The Information, is to ensure the projects are not abused.
Neuroscientist Demis Hassabis, 37, co-founded DeepMind Technologies just two years ago with the aim of trying to help computers think like humans.
‘Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.’

In the short and medium-term, militaries throughout the world are working to develop autonomous weapon systems, with the UN simultaneously working to ban them,.

‘Looking further ahead, there are no fundamental limits to what can be achieved,’ said Professor Hawking.

‘There is no physical law precluding particles from being organised in ways that perform even more advanced computations than the arrangements of particles in human brains.’

In fact, IBM has already developed smart chips that could pave the way for sensor networks that mimic the brain’s capacity for perception, action, and thought.

One day, it could allow computer scientists to develop a machine with a brain that is even more intelligent than that of humans.

‘As Irving Good realised in 1965, machines with superhuman intelligence could repeatedly improve their design even further, triggering what Vernor Vinge called a singularity,’ said Professor Hawking

Professor Hawking added experts are not prepared for these scenarios. Offering a comparison, he said that if aliens were to tell us they would arrive within a few decades, scientists would not just sit waiting for their arrival. 

‘Although we are facing potentially the best or worst thing to happen to humanity in history, little serious research is devoted to these issues.

‘All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks.’


In the short and medium-term, militaries throughout the world are working to develop autonomous weapon systems, with the UN simultaneously working to ban them

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