Stephen Hawking, the world renowned cosmologist and author voiced his concern about rapidly evolving Artificial Intelligence.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” he told BBC.

Professor Hawking, who suffers from motor neurone disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), is using a new system developed by Intel and British machine Learning experts- Swiftkey to communicate. This system is a basic form of AI learns how the professor thinks and suggests the words he might want to use next at a much faster rate than its predecessor. This technology is also available as a smartphone keyboard app.

Stephen commented that slow biological evolution in human will not be able to compete with AI. “It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate,” he said. While the likes of Hawking and Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX remain sceptical about the future of AI, others like Rollo carpenter, creator of Cleverbot and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer are more optimistic.

“We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” Mr Carpenter said. He added –  we are a long way from having the computing power or developing the algorithms needed to achieve full artificial intelligence, but believes it will come in the next few decades.

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. However, he has enthusiastically adopted new forms of communication technology and looks forward to writing much faster with his new system.

He remarked that he wouldn’t replace the slightly robotic voice for a more natural voice with a British accent. The voice which has become his trademark is also reportedly popular among kids who need a computer voice.

Speaking about the dangers and benefits of the internet he iterated GCHQ’s director’s warning about the net becoming the command centre for terrorists, he said, “More must be done by the internet companies to counter the threat, but the difficulty is to do this without sacrificing freedom and privacy.”

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Image Credit: Wiki Commons

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