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We got a beauty forecaster to reinterpret Stephen Hawking’s predictions

TextAlex Peters

From superhumans to environmental catastrophe, in his posthumously published book, Stephen Hawking outlines the future of humankind. We asked trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry to make beauty predictions based on these predictions

Stephen Hawking’s last writings, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, is set to be published posthumously on October 16. In excerpts appearing in The Sunday Times, the late physicist tackles topics including AI outsmarting us; a future breed of genetically engineered superhumans; the inevitable environmental catastrophe coming our way; and the existence of intelligent life in the universe.

On AI, for example, Hawking warns us of the consequences of artificial intelligence surpassing our own, if the goals and will of the machines do not align with that of humans. “The advent of super-intelligent AI would be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity,” he writes. While some believe in the potential of AI to eradicate and solve the world’s problems, Hawking is wary: “Although I am well known as an optimist regarding the human race, I am not so sure.”  

“The real risk with AI isn’t malice, but competence... You’re probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you’re in charge of a hydroelectric green-energy project and there’s an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let’s not place humanity in the position of those ants.”

On the future of the planet, Hawking believes that either a nuclear or environmental catastrophe is coming Earth’s way in the next 1,000 years, although he is optimistic that by then “our ingenious race will have found a way to slip the surly bonds of Earth and will, therefore, survive the disaster.” Those who do escape Earth in time will likely be a new race of genetically engineered superhumans, who surpass the “unimproved” humans and go on to colonise other planets and other stars.

“We are, by nature, explorers. Motivated by curiosity. This is a uniquely human quality. It is this driven curiosity that sent explorers to prove the Earth is not flat and it is the same instinct that sends us to the stars at the speed of thought, urging us to go there in reality.”

To find out what this all means for us and the future of human appearance, we spoke to beauty trend forecaster Geraldine Wharry.

“Stephen Hawking’s bleak warning in Brief Answers to the Big Questions about gene editing and global warming resonates deeply with the beauty trends of the next decades. By 2038/2048 as we explained in our recent feature, we will seek comfort from irreparable climate change confirmed by the UN’s report,” she explained. 

“Through eccentric over the top beauty trends, we will seek escapism from a world rife with intense clashes between the haves and the have nots. The new luxury will be Air, Water and Land but these essentials we currently take for granted will have become increasingly toxic and barren. So, as envisioned in our recent feature and Hawkings last writings, we will have hacked the human genome and started creating the next-gen Homo Sapiens/ Super Human.”

According to Wharry, our future skin will harness circular design models: “It will communicate, protect from toxins and harvest essential nutrients for us to feed onto and regenerate as Hawking brilliantly states, ‘there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-increasing rate‘.”

She concludes: “The possibilities of changing the human race and our perceptions of beauty are at our doorstep. But we must harness this progress for the majority, and not the privileged few since as Hawkings predicts, this will be the caveat of this grim future.”

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