Stephen Hawking: AI could bring the best of times, the worst of times for humanity

If the thought of a near future of automated robots is both terrifying and wonderful to you, then you are not alone - it’s how Professor Stephen Hawking thinks as well.

Speaking at the launch of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) at Cambridge University, an institution where the implications of artificial intelligence will be thoroughly discussed, Hawking sat on the proverbial fence and hinted that AI could liberate or decimate humankind. 

“The rise of powerful AI will be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not know which,” said Hawking.

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

'Eradicate disease and poverty'

The author of A Brief History of Time did see the potential to undo some of the wrongs humanity has wrought upon the Earth through the use of AI. 

"Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation," said Hawking. 

"Surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty.”

He continued: “Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.”

His speech comes at a time when some of the biggest players in technology are grasping at the potential of AI. Just this week, Elon Musk announced that the latest Tesla will be equipped with self-driving hardware, which he believes will make the vehicles “substantially safer than a human driver”.

It’s boasts like these that will keep the folks at the LCFI busy.

Via The Guardian

Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.