Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stephen Hawking - will mankind be wiped out in the next hundred years ?

All intelligent inhabitants on planet earth, have a couple of genuine questions or doubts to ask other knowledgeable people inhabiting planet earth. Some of these unanswered questions are
1. Are we the lone high level intelligent living beings in the Universe ?
2. Do we have competition from other intelligent species from distant galaxies in our vast Universe ?
3. With the knowledge that the Universe is constantly expanding, will the future be the same as it has been all this while ?
4. How is matter formed in this Universe from unexplained forces and space ?

Prof. Stepehen Hawking, Cambridge U Prof, scientific thinker and cosmologist
As these questions and more remain unanswered (or outside the realm of human intelligence) to unravel, comprehend and interpret, Cosmologist Stephen Hawking points to the three main threats to humanity. 74 year old theoritical physicist, Stephen Hawking, author of the classic, "A Brief History of Time", Professor and Director of Research at Centre for Cosmology at University of Cambridge has highlighted three catastrophies to befall planet earth in the next one hundred years and finish off human domination.

First catastrophe is the proliferation of artificial intelligence robotics. Imagine a world where humans would be listening to the commands and orders from AI robots. Imagine the disaster that would befall humanity then.

In Hawking's own words, "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete (with these self-proliferating machines) and would be superseded". Artificial intelligence powered autonomous weapons like "autonomous armed quadcopters" could spell the end of mankind.

Second catastrophe as Prof Hawking predicts is the arrival of aliens from outer planets. Either they come with better intelligence and better weapons and technology to conquer mankind and see its elimination or are less intelligent and hence not much of a threat, would depend on how well we are prepared to meet such an eventuality.

The third catastrophe to befall planet earth in the next hundred years is the uncontrolled proliferation of atomic weapons resulting in a global war which will ensure the end of life on planet earth.

Prof. Hawking also talks of global warming  and genetically mutated viruses as the other two imminent and dangerous threats staring at mankind, if we do not come out with a global concerted action plan to combat these threats facing mankind as a whole.

Stephen Hawking's much acclaimed TED talk questioning the Universe .. (2008 recording, 10 minutes only).

Elon Musk of TESLA, SpaceX and Solar City fame fears Artificial Intelligence to be the greatest existential threat to human life on planet earth, indeed it is, displacing millions of jobs.
Imagine if we equip it with autonomous weapons !

Click here for the recent BBC interview with Prof. Hawking on these threats..

Some questions that come to our minds naturally are -

1. What is mankind doing to prevent such a devastating catastrophe ?

2. Do we need a change of lifestyle and taking stock of how lavishly and sparingly we consume earth's resources ?

3. Do we need to go slow on implementing certain technologies like artificial intelligence and nuclear energy using fission and fusion routes, for the benefit of mankind ?

4. Predicting disaster to befall planet earth, should we accelerate our expeditions to find alien habitable planets and environments where humans can live peacefully and purposefully ?

5. Can reduction of the pace at which we exploit the natural resources of earth and instead migrate to non-conventional sources of energy like solar, hydel, wind etc, prolong our existence on planet earth ?

6. Do humans and other living beings on planet earth need to think concertedly and unitedly to avoid any tragedy or catastrophe to befall on them ?

7. If we do not take care, will we be reversing the process of evolution over the past 4.6 billion years on planet earth which ensured our existence, in the matter of a hundred years ?

Let mankind do an introspection to find where we could have gone wrong and stop the destruction of planet earth, to let our future generations exploit and live on it as we and our past generations have done with peace and prosperity.

Sustainability thoughts over the past couple of decades on planet earth looked only at the natural environment and how animal and plant life gets adversely affected by disregarding sustainability measures. Now we need to look not only at sustainability, but also at man made disasters like dangerous fall outs of nuclear weapons, artificial intelligence and genetically engineered viruses ...

Hope mankind as a whole will be able to overcome these pressures and  ensure all living beings, animals, plants, multi-cellular, single cellular organisms continue to thrive on planet for all future generations and time ..

Click here for the link to the news in the Washington Post ..

(Prof. Stephen Hawking, considered to be one of the greatest contemporary cosmologists and theoritical physicists, contracted the motor neuron disease (Lou Geirig's disease,, a progressive muscular dystrophical disease) in the early 60s and since 1984 after a bout of pneumonia has also been unable to speak and communicates with just a muscle in his cheek through a computer.)


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