Stephen Hawking is one of today’s most brilliant physicists and thinkers, and he appeared on stage at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal yesterday. He appeared via tele-presence with the intention to inform viewers about the rapid development and growth in usage of artificial intelligence. He also warned humanity about AI and about what it could become in the future.

Humanity about AI
geralt / Pixabay

“AI could develop a will of its own,” Hawking said. “The rise of AI could be the worst or the best thing that has happened to humanity.”

It is true that artificial intelligence has had a lot of positive impact on humanity. However, according to the scientist, it could also be the worst thing that has ever happened to us, mainly because of the will AI could one day develop. Hawking said that artificial intelligence and robots are threatening millions of jobs that people are already doing, mainly because a robot can do some difficult and/ or physical jobs more efficiently than a human can.

Hawking also warned humanity about AI being used for pro-social purposes too, although that won’t just happen by accident. According to Hawking, there would need to be a lot of work before it will be possible for AI to prevail. The physicist also added that it will require scientists and technologists to think outside the box and noted that companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple, and Facebook believe that AI is critical to future business success.

“Perhaps we should all stop for a moment and focus not only on making our AI better and more successful but also on the benefit of humanity,” Hawking said.

Hawking added that regulations and legislation play enormous roles in that process. It is important to note that the physicist  is not alone in his worry. As you may know, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also expressed concerns regarding the rapid development of AI. A few months ago, he warned about the future of the human race if artificial intelligence gets out of control and becomes a threat.

Hawking warns also that AI might be developing faster than we think, meaning that it could surpass us in only in a couple of decades.