In a talk he delivered at the Oxford University Union debating society last Monday, renowned cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking painted this grim scenario facing our world. While he described 2016 as a ‘glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics’, he also said that: “We must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”
It’s not the first time we’ve heard this kind of talk from Hawking. In fact, he’s been saying it as early as 2007. He warned us then that we were on the verge of a second nuclear age and an era of unprecedented climate change – 2 events that if remain unchecked, will bring us closer to the end.
Almost a decade later in January of this year, during a series of lectures held at London’s Royal Institution, Hawking gives us another warning. He said that technological developments, especially in the fields of science and technology, will endanger our survival, specifically mentioning nuclear war, catastrophic global warming, and genetically engineered viruses as major threats.
Just this October, at the opening of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (LCFI) in Cambridge, England, Hawking reiterated his prior warning about the danger that artificial intelligence (AI) poses to humans. Because we are limited by slow biological evolution, plus the fact that we do not learn from our mistakes and just make the same ones over and over, we cannot hope to compete with AI’s astronomical growth and development. So AI can go either way — humanity’s best invention, or its worst. And the scary part is, it might be too late when we finally get to know what the answer is.
What can we do to survive both real and hypothetical perils we are facing? According to Hawking, we have to find another Earth to become our new home. And because he estimates that Mars (the most feasible option we have right now) will not yet be ready to sustain human life in the next hundred years, we should be very careful about what we do in the next several decades. And that like children, we should learn to share. Otherwise, it’s goodbye humanity.
So what brought about this resurgence about Earth’s impending doom? It’s hard to say, but being the brilliant man that he is, maybe Hawking knows something that he isn’t ready to tell us yet? The good news is, there’s always hope. Even he says so.
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet… However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
Coming from a man who continues to be an inspiration for bravely battling ALS for over 5 decades, the concept of the end shouldn’t have to be as dark and depressing.
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He’s not God, so he has no idea how and when mankind will end…if ever.
As things are “progressing” now, “the end” will come far sooner than 1,000 years. If the heat and global ecological devastation doesn’t get us first, then massive population movements will kill several billion people. If that doesn’t work, then there’s always global thermonuclear war, or even several regional nuclear wars. Meanwhile, going to Mars is a resource-wasting side show. We can’t get there and terraform that planet soon enough. Best bet would be to establish several generational bunkers in remote areas of the southern hemisphere. ‘TRUMP DIGS COAL.”
It’s funny… 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is occurring and is caused by mankind’s activities, but if you read certain areas of the internet, you’d think there was debate. If only the deniers would be the first to go…
Terraform? Nope. Humans offgas. Just as we, perhaps, already off-gassed Venus into in-habitability, so were we off gassing earth into habitability. Or maybe, at one time, ancient human ancestors off gassed Mars into in-habitability while off gassing Earth into habitability.
So, now it is time to go back to Mars and off gas it into re-habitability , because we are now off gassing the Earth into in-habitability. (I feel like I just wrote a Science Fiction short story.)
This all sounds so typical and completely leaves out the high probability that wide-spread mass extinction from a series of eminent super-volcano eruptions. Likewise; most overlook their fundamental high school level biology referring to the rapidly evolving “culture climax” where disease and bacteria over-populate the environment can also wipe out humanity. Extinction is as evident for us as it was for the Neanderthal or cro-magnon. Now all extinct. There may be a new species arise,’Super-sapiens, or Homo-superior. But don’t count on it, we are all doing all we can to make sure nothing survives. Also let us not forget the little discussed methane boil-off triggered by global warming. This alone, also can wipe us all out. So take your pick. The common denominator in all of this is still extension. Science can save us but not as long as the greedy corporate politicians that hold power continue to exploit science for greedy profit.
” He said that technological developments, especially in the fields of science and technology…”
Do technological developments occur in fields other than science and technology?
Also, how would it protect us to move to a new home planet? Wouldn’t we want to use nuclear power and automation / robots at our new home? So why wouldn’t the problems and perils of Earth follow us to our new home?
Hawking’s best years seem to be behind him. I’m afraid he’s slipping.
He is a smart man, but he also just pulls some ideas out of his butt.
Suke Madiq says the person hiding behind a homophobic pseudonym.
Doubt he can even wipe his ass, nevermind pulling something out of it; ALS you know?
Another prediction of disaster? Gosh, there have been so many. All of them full of bologna. I remember when the nuclear power plants were going to sink through the earth — the China Syndrome, remember? And I remember how the acid rain was destroying all the earth’s crops. Or pesticides. How about the Alaska Pipeline would destroy the tundra and kill every animal within 50 miles. It’s amazing to me that ANYONE listens to the fear mongering anymore. It’s an endless stream of bullshit coming from the mouths of anti-business know-nothings. Hippies that never grew up or made any effort to understand the world they live in.
Really, if you follow science, climate change enough will make the planet inhospitable to humans. Economic instability due to rising populations and dwindling resources probably will lead to some extreme wars.
It takes a certain kind of… ‘blindness..’ to ignore this, and what is already happening, and it definitely doesn’t take a genius, though it’s always nice when one confirms it… Again.
Wish I was short-sighted enough to prioritize profit over the future :(
I can’t believe Stephen Hawking could be so full of hubris that he would take his own ‘prophecy’ with any degree of seriousness. Or that he would even make such a prophecy without an enormous number of caveats.
Now I would believe that some lame reporter whose job, ultimately, is to sell car insurance and toilet paper WOULD misinterpret or even misrepresent some statements and put them out there. You know the sort of reporter who told us the Mayans said the world would end in 2012.
Dr. Hawking is so wrong. I’m from 7,000 years in the future (here on holiday). Humanity thrives, but only after all the lawyers are outlawed and the cure for mental disorders such as insecurity and paranoia all but eliminate, “liberalism.” It turns out it is a protein deficiency brought on by eating too many vegetables! Alas, I’ve said too much. Oh yeah, buy LQMT before December 23!
Gotta love the self proclaimed know-it-alls who think anonymous messages in the backwoods of the Internet is a grand challenge to Hawking’s published ideas.