This is the most dangerous time for our planet | Stephen Hawking – Updated Dec. 1, 2016 8:05 p.m. ET

We can’t go on ignoring inequality, because we have the means to destroy our world but not to escape it

 Stephen Hawking

 Illustration by Nate Kitch

Illustration by Nate Kitch

As a theoretical physicist based in Cambridge, I have lived my life in an extraordinarily privileged bubble. Cambridge is an unusual town, centred around one of the world’s great universities. Within that town, the scientific community that I became part of in my 20s is even more rarefied.

And within that scientific community, the small group of international theoretical physicists with whom I have spent my working life might sometimes be tempted to regard themselves as the pinnacle. In addition to this, with the celebrity that has come with my books, and the isolation imposed by my illness, I feel as though my ivory tower is getting taller.

So the recent apparent rejection of the elites in both America and Britain is surely aimed at me, as much as anyone. Whatever we might think about the decision by the British electorate to reject membership of the European Union and by the American public to embrace Donald Trump as their next president, there is no doubt in the minds of commentators that this was a cry of anger by people who felt they had been abandoned by their leaders.

It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.

I am no exception to this rule. I warned before the Brexit vote that it would damage scientific research in Britain, that a vote to leave would be a step backward, and the electorate – or at least a sufficiently significant proportion of it – took no more notice of me than any of the other political leaders, trade unionists, artists, scientists, businessmen and celebrities who all gave the same unheeded advice to the rest of the country.

What matters now, far more than the choices made by these two electorates, is how the elites react. Should we, in turn, reject these votes as outpourings of crude populism that fail to take account of the facts, and attempt to circumvent or circumscribe the choices that they represent? I would argue that this would be a terrible mistake.

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Why Stephen Hawking is more afraid of capitalism than robots – Updated by Brian Resnick on February 27, 2016, 10:10 a.m. ET

Professor Stephen Hawking speaks during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympics at the Olympic Stadium on August 29, 2012, in London, England. — Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

In October, a Reddit user asked Stephen Hawking if he thinks robots are coming to take all of our jobs.

“In particular, do you foresee a world where people work less because so much work is automated?” the user asked the renowned physicist on an Ask Me Anything thread.

The question isn’t crazy. Computers are getting smarter and more efficient all the time. It’s conceivable that we one day will reach a point where machines’ output is simply much more valuable than humans’.

Hawking didn’t discount the notion that machines may replace us. But he said whether this is good or bad depends on how the wealth produced by machines is distributed. That is, Hawking is more concerned about capitalism than he is about robots. He wrote:

…Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.

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‘Killer robots’ with AI must be banned, urge Stephen Hawking, Noam Chomsky and thousands of others in open letter – DOUG BOLTON Monday 27 July 2015

The letter claims that totally autonomous killing machines could become a reality within 'years, not decades'

The letter claims that totally autonomous killing machines could become a reality within ‘years, not decades’

More than 1,000 robotics experts and artificial intelligence (AI) researchers – including physicist Stephen Hawking, technologist Elon Musk, and philosopher Noam Chomsky – have signed an open letter calling for a ban on “offensive autonomous weapons”, or as they are better known, ‘killer robots’.

Other signatories include Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and hundreds of AI and robotics researcher from top-flight universities and laboratories worldwide.

The letter, put together by the Future of Life Institute, a group that works to mitigate “existential risks facing humanity”, warns of the danger of starting a “military AI arms race”.

These robotic weapons may include armed drones that can search for and kill certain people based on their programming, the next step from the current generation of drones, which are flown by humans who are often thousands of miles away from the warzone.

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Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind – By Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent – 2 December 2014 Last updated at 08:02 ET

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at Dec 3, 2014 2.56

Stephen Hawking: “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded”


Stephen Hawking: “Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded”

Prof Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, has said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence.

He told the BBC:”The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of AI.

But others are less gloomy about AI’s prospects.

The theoretical physicist, who has the motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is using a new system developed by Intel to speak.

Machine learning experts from the British company Swiftkey were also involved in its creation. Their technology, already employed as a smartphone keyboard app, learns how the professor thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next.

Prof Hawking says the primitive forms of artificial intelligence developed so far have already proved very useful, but he fears the consequences of creating something that can match or surpass humans.

HAL 2001Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001 and its murderous computer HAL encapsulate many people’s fears of how AI could pose a threat to human life

“It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said.

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Stephen Hawking: “God particle” could demolish the universe – SARAH GRAY MONDAY, SEP 8, 2014 8:22 PM UTC

Stephen Hawking: "God particle" could demolish the universe

Professor Stephen Hawking warned that the Higgs boson — or so-called God particle — has the potential to destroy the universe, the Sunday Times reported.

In the foreword to the book “Starmus, 50 Years of Man in Space,” the theoretical physicist wrote that if accelerated to high energy levels, the Higgs boson could cause space and time to collapse — and we’d be caught unawares.From the preface:

“The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become megastable at energies above 100bn giga-electron-volts (GeV). This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn’t see it coming.”

However, Hawking does not believe that this event will happen in the near future. “A particle accelerator that reaches 100bn GeV would be larger than Earth,” Hawking wrote, “and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate.”

The Higgs boson was theorized by Dr. Peter Higgs in 1964. In 2012, evidence of Higgs boson was discovered by CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

Below Dr. Higgs explains the “God particle”:

And this video, via the Daily Mail, explains the importance of the 2012 breakthrough. Watch here.