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Stephen Hawking: Our Own Stupidity Remains a Threat to Humanity


Cosmologist Stephen Hawking photographed in 2013. Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images
Cosmologist Stephen Hawking photographed in 2013. Andrew Cowie/AFP/Getty Images

In 2010, astrophysicist Stephen Hawking told interviewer Larry King that humanity's greed and stupidity might be our own undoing. Six years later, "we have certainly not become less greedy or less stupid," Hawking tells the veteran interviewer.

King and the rarely interviewed Hawking chatted on the web series "Larry King Now," which appears on Ora TV, RT and Hulu. Hawking spoke with King from the the Starmus III science festival in the Canary Islands, where he's discussing an initiative to use radiation patterns to map the entire known universe, the dangers of weaponizing artificial intelligence, and more.

And though Hawking discusses the potential positive uses for artificial intelligence with King — predicting the stock market, for instance, or diagnosing cancer earlier than is currently possible — he warns that things could easily get out of hand.

"Governments seem to be engaged in an AI arms race, designing planes and weapons with intelligent technologies," Hawking says in the interview. "The funding for projects directly beneficial to the human race, such as improved medical screening, seems a somewhat lower priority. I don't think that advances in artificial technology will necessarily be benign. Once machines reach the critical stage of being able to evolve themselves, we cannot predict whether their goals will be the same as ours."

Hawking also brings up the increase in world pollution and carbon dioxide levels as another risk to humanity. "At this rate, [the world's population] will be 11 billion by 2100," Hawking says. "Air pollution has increased by 8 percent over the past five years. More than 80 percent of inhabitants of urban areas are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution."

Watch the full interview below, and stick around for a chat with astrophysicist Garik Israelian, who created the Starmus Festival and dedicated this year's installment to Hawking:



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