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It seems that Stephen Hawking has some rather grim predictions for the human race, according to his speech on a BBC Radio Show. He claims that we will not be able to expand into space and build a self-sustainable colony before we get wiped out by either Artificial Intelligence, global warming or genetically engineered viruses.
Being considered one of the greatest, if not the greatest, minds currently on Earth, Stephen Hawking’s ideas might instill a high degree of fear in the general public when he makes these types of claims. But he did state that he strongly believes that the human race will overcome the threats it is currently facing and move towards a bright future.
The idea of AI overthrowing humanity completely once it reaches sentience has been approached in the past as well. Hawking believes that once AI is created and allowed to evolve on its own, humanity will be superseded entirely. This is due to the fact that us humans are limited by our natural evolutionary process having a very slow pace while computers can evolve in a matter of days.
But the concept of humanity as we know it being wiped out by AI does come with an interesting topic because it is talking about humanity “as we know it”. If we manage to interconnect our brains with computers or other similar methods of cyberization, the human race will still move on, but we will no longer be entirely human. It would simply be the next step on the evolutionary ladder.
Genetically engineered viruses do come as a massive threat to our race, but the reverse side effect has to be considered as well. If we gain the ability to create a virus that could potentially wipe out humanity, who is to say that the same technology could not be applied to us. Through the use of genetical engineering, we could potentially gain complete resistance to bacterial, viral or fungal infections, and could even be used to exponentially increase our lifespan. True, once again this will make us non-humans from a naturalistic point of view.
Global warming, on the other hand, is something that can seriously pose a threat to our civilization without any benefits to be gained from it. If eventually our planet becomes uninhabitable due to our constant pollution, extinction would be the only outcome, unfortunately. This can also be applied to the concept of a thermo-nuclear war, an idea often approached by scientists who fear that a potential World War III would basically be the last one on Earth.
Although Stephen Hawking has some rather grim predictions for the human race, the general public needs to understand that these are just potential outcomes. If we really do commit to cutting pollutant emissions and struggle to reach our next evolutionary phase in the shortest amount of time, we might still have a chance of passing the 100-year threshold proposed by Hawking.