Stephen Hawking has finally revealed the truth about technology as he stated today that successful artificial intelligence that transcends human intelligence is perhaps the worst thing that could ever happen to humans. Hawking says that success in developing a more intelligent AI than human intelligence could potentially mean the end of the human race and says that the event might be the last event we ever experience. Some leading thinkers and scientists in the technology field agree with this assessment, but some take the idea a step further and say that AI will, indeed, most likely lead to the complete extinction of humans. A key member of Google’s so-called “ethics” team, Shane Legg, says that artificial intelligence that supersedes human intelligence is the “number one risk for this century, and “eventually,” Legg says, “I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this.”
It is potentially a lucky day indeed now that Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most brilliant scientists, has finally revealed the truth, about which most people are in deep denial. Perhaps now that Hawking has officially sounded the alarm bells on the completely out of control and rampant actions of Silicon Valley companies, American society just might start to awaken out of the technology-induced blind slumber in which they have been blissfully snoozing for the past twenty or so years.
While Americans have been staring like brainless zombies at their gadgets, Google and other companies have been quietly working on technology that has the potential to eradicate the human race and create a “non-biological” species. A top Google executive, Ray Kurzweil, makes no secret about Google’s plans to force humans out of the picture and to manipulate whatever’s left over into completely virtual environments, but his schemes have been scarcely publicized. Now, Stephen Hawking has come forward to tell the truth about AI and says it is perhaps the worst thing to happen to humans.
In an essay that puts the raw and unpleasant truth on the table for all to see, Hawking reveals what executives in Silicon Valley have been up to for the past several years. Hawking rightfully calls the actions of these technology companies an outright “IT arms race,” perhaps indicating that future all-out war could be an inevitable conclusion. He warns that the new movie Transcendence is not science fiction, and to take it as such would be a grave and potentially deadly mistake.
Hawking’s warning is a vastly disturbing glimpse into what the future could hold for humanity. He seems to indicate that it is naive on the part of humans to think such future AI could be controlled, explaining:
One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand. 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.
Even more disturbingly, Hawking indicated that the companies responsible for this move toward AI have conducted “little serious research” to ensure that the risks of developing such technologies will not outweigh any potential benefits. It does not bode well that Legg, the same man who says that the human race will most likely become extinct due to technology is also sitting on Google’s “ethics” committee.
Despite the warnings of some commentators, artists and now Hawking, who is arguably one of the smartest people alive today, building support for his viewpoint will likely prove difficult to impossible. Warnings about technology and AI most often result in the mockery and ridicule of those sounding the alarm bells. By the time people realize Hawking was right, it will be too late.
The people in Silicon Valley have already destroyed our physical book stores; they’ve created children with no social skills; they’ve chipped away at the organic human experience in many areas and have replaced it with virtual reality; they’ve contributed to the rise of ADD and ADHD; and created a society in which young people think it is preferable to conduct all business from behind a screen, with no real human interaction at all.
Silicon Valley has placated the people with mind-numbing gadgets without warning of the risks and addictive properties of such gadgets. They’ve already come for part of humanity, and next they will come for all of it. Transcendence is not science fiction; it’s an inevitable future that is at once horrifying and devastating.
Stephen Hawking is very brave as he tells the truth about AI and says it is perhaps the worst thing to ever happen to humans. He has started the discussion, now how many will actually take heed and how many will resort to cheap jokes about Hawking’s affliction instead, so that they don’t have to face the grim reality of his words? Such “jokes” have already begun on social media. While the dunces giggle, Google remains hard at work on artificial intelligence that will, indeed, wipe out the human race. It is time to wake up and listen to a man who is much smarter than 99.9% of all people. Transcendence is not science fiction according to Hawking. Believe it. It may be the last chance you have.
Opinion by: Rebecca Savastio