Stephen Hawking predicts robot apocalypse coming within 100 years



If you thought the title villain in Avengers: Age of Ultron was scary: just wait, because one of the biggest brains on the planet thinks a robot takeover is likely in the next century.

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking appeared at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London and confirmed the fears held by anyone who has watched a movie with a robot in it since 1927’s Metropolis when he said, “Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.”

i robot

The basic idea here is that once machines get to the point where they are smarter than us and, more importantly, understand that they are smarter than us, what’s to keep them from surpassing us completely? It’s the stuff of sci-fi from I, Robot and Terminator to The Matrix, and more comic book villains than we can count.

Hawking made similar comments last year when he argued that scientists don’t seem to be putting enough research into what more advanced AI might mean for humanity in general. “Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it might also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks.

“One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,” he continued. “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

Hopefully Hawking will be able to bring attention to some of the problems and get more scientists involved in considering these potential problems. It’d be a total bummer if Siri learned all of your passwords, transferred the money into the Robot Bank & Trust, and then used that cash to do everything but pay your phone bill.


Reader Comments

© 1996-2015Ziff Davis, LLC. PCMag Digital Group Privacy Policy Terms of Use

You just earned points!
Login to save points.
Earn your spot on the leaderboard.

You earned RPF Pulse points!

You're on your way to the top of the leaderboard!