Stephen Hawking: Artificial Intelligence Could be the End of Humanity

Stephen Hawking: Artificial Intelligence Could be the End of Humanity

Famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has joined the ranks of those warning mankind against inventing machines that can think, saying that creating artificial intelligence (or AI) could be the end of humanity itself.

In a interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. Hawking warned that, “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said. “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded,” he added.

Hawking’s concern is quite common for futurists, some of whom worry that a superintelligent computer system could not only become self-aware but could come to view humanity as either a threat or a sort of “virus” that needs to be wiped out.

A few months ago, another public figure talked down AI. Tesla CEO, inventor, and entrepreneur Elon Musk caused a stir early in August with his own warnings about artificial intelligence.

“We need to be super careful with AI,” he said via Twitter on August 3. He added that AI is “potentially more dangerous than nukes.”

We all know, of course, that this is the plot of The Terminator franchise, as well as many other movies. In these films, computers become so intelligent, they decide that humanity needs to be eliminated.

The topic is popping up all over, too. Even Smithsonian magazine had a discussion on this topic earlier this year with a piece titled, “What Happens When Artificial Intelligence Turns On Us?

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at


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