Stephen Hawking thinks AI will replace humans

Robots will dominate us and we’ll have to leave the planet of course

It’s been a war of words with the nerds so far over AI: Elon Musk has been sounding off on the dangers of an autonomous robot-led future, while Mark Zuckerberg clapped back with the positives. Now Stephen Hawking has stepped in with a thought: artificial intelligence will surpass humans and become the dominant lifeform. Cool.

In an interview with Wired Magazine, he said: “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

This comes soon after Sophia the Robot became the first humanoid citizen, gaining a passport from Saudi Arabia. 

The physicist believes we have passed the point of “no return”, and will need to leave the earth to survive. He believes a space programme “with a view to eventually colonising suitable planets for human habitation” is key to combat “serious consequences”.

“Our earth is becoming too small for us,” he explained. “Global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.”

Last month, Cambridge University uploaded Hawking’s doctoral thesis Properties of Expanding Universes for free to its site, which became so popular it crashed.

In 2016, Hawking told an audience at the opening of the AI-researching Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence that AI would be “either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity”. Looks like he’s made up his mind.

Tesla founder Elon Musk has been one of the leading voices of opposition against AI, calling it an “existential risk” for humanity, particularly if the military develops lethal autonomous weapons that could wipe us out. 

In the past, Hawking has estimated we maybe have around 100 years left on this planet – maybe now’s the time to set that iPhone calendar date for our extra-terrestrial departure as we leave behind a whole host of replicants/Terminators.