Hawking’s thoughts on the future of earth and humanity are based on his understanding of physics and accelerating technologies.
By James DiGeorgia
Diagnosed with an early-onset slow-progressing form of motor neuron disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease) that gradually paralyzed him over the decades the most famous physicist since Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking’s last writings predict that a breed of super humans who will eventually replace humanity using genetic engineering. A reality that we can already see approaching thanks to Bio firms like CRISPR Therapeutics AG (CRSP:NasdaqGM) and others that may soon be able to treat the deadliest diseases plaguing humanity; with a shot that reprograms the human body.
In his last book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, which was published in October 2018, Hawking offers his insights on subjects like machines taking over our world, the biggest threat to our planet, and the likelihood of man discovering other intelligent life among the stars. Some of his predictions are pretty scary and amount to dire warnings.
Hawking’s Artificial Intelligence Warning
“…in the future AI could develop a will of its own and its own will that may conflict with ours.”
The development of such a powerfully enabled artificial intelligence could create an arms race of autonomous-weapons created entirely by AI that could trigger a sudden military exchange similar to the 2010 stock market Flash Crash but with weapons of mass destruction ending the world in a matter of minutes.
Hawking’s believed, like many futurists, the creation of super intelligent AI could be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. He cautioned that allowing AI to be in control, self-determinative could result in it having not only contempt for mankind but also enough malice to destroy all of humanity.
A super-intelligent AI could make the earth a paradise, but if it isn’t aligned with the goals of humanity, we could find its creation an extinction event.
Earth’s Bleak Future, Gene Editing, and Super Humans
Many of Hawking’s predictions are very dark and gloomy. He predicted at some point in the next 1,000 years, nuclear war or environmental calamity will cripple the Earth…
“However, by then…our ingenious race will have found a way to slip the surly bonds of Earth and will, therefore, survive the disaster.”
This dark view led to his prediction that Earth’s other species probably won’t survive. The humans who do escape Earth he said will probably be new “super humans” who have used gene-editing technology like CRISPR. They’ll do so by defying laws against genetic engineering, improving their memories, disease resistance, and life expectancy in his view.
Hawking curiously saw this dark prediction with a strange enthusiasm writing…
“There is no time to wait for Darwinian evolution to make us more intelligent and better natured.”
Once such superhumans appear, there are going to be significant political problems with the unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete. Presumably, they will die out much like other humanoid species like Neanderthals. Hawking’s predicted that a race of self-designing beings who are improving themselves at an ever-accelerating rate. He offered the prediction in his last book that if the human race manages to redesign itself, it will probably spread out and colonize other planets and stars.
Amazingly the acceleration of technologies and innovations in gene-editing may accelerate humanity's ability to self-improve and evolve not in 1,000 years but within the before the beginning of the next century.
The Prospects of Discovering Intelligent Life in Outer Space
In his last publication, Hawking acknowledges there are various explanations as to why intelligent life has yet to be discovered or has not visited Earth. He believed that humans have “overlooked” forms of intellectual life that are out there. Pulsating signals and strange repeating sounds from outer space may well be an example of Aliens reaching out across many light-years attempting to communicate their existence to us and other worlds. Our inability to decipher the signals and sounds they are broadcasting may fulfill Hawking’s predictions.
Hawking may also be wrong about Alien's visitations; the U.S. Navy has, in recent years, identified UFOs capable of speed and maneuvers that our understanding of physics is unable to explain. The Pentagon has a secret UFO program that is no longer secret. Some physicists now believe our knowledge of String Theory is so backward that we may be failing to comprehend that the possibility that earthlings are visiting us from alternative realities, different dimensions of time, and space.
Hawking Rejected the Existence of God.
Hawking believed the laws of science amounted to “God” and rejected man’s concept of a God that you would meet and put questions to. New scientific research in recent years hints at the existence of infinite number universes beyond our own and processes well beyond our comprehension that creates new worlds and universes.
The Biggest Threats to Earth
Hawking’s believed the most significant threat was another in a long history of asteroid collisions, like the one that killed the dinosaurs and caused mass extinctions even earlier in Earth’s history. The famous physicist lamented that “we have no defense” against an extinction event like that. Some physicists, however, believe that with accelerating technologies, we could prevent an asteroid Armageddon providing we can identify the danger in time to take action.
Hawking’s immediate concern wasn’t the risk of a killer asteroid(s) but instead, human-made climate change…
“A rise in ocean temperature would melt the ice caps and cause the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide; both effects could make our climate like that of Venus with a temperature of 250C.”
If Hawking were alive today, he would likely be concerned by the recent temperature in Antarctica being measured as 64F degrees, and reports of large portions of its and the Arctic ice coverings breaking away into our Oceans.
The Best Innovation for the Survival of Humanity
The advances in physics since Stephen Hawking’s death that have taken place in the development of nuclear fusion power generation would warm his heart. His dream of clean energy with no pollution or risk of global warming is slowly being realized. The rapid development of new pollution battery technologies capable of turning solar, wind, and geothermal energy in unlimited power sources that will end the oil and gas age is approaching so fast that the development of cold fusion would amount to an unexpected bonus for humanity. The recent discovery that we can generate electricity in cold dark conditions and environments offer the possibility to breakthroughs in space travel that will literally leapfrog humanity’s technological capabilities by hundreds of years.
Stephen Hawking’s understanding of our existence like that of Galileo, the father of modern science some 400 years ago, was closely tied to the science and technologies of their times. Despite Galileo Galilei’s being handicapped by the Catholic Church and the crudest of technology, he understood the key to discovery…
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
Steven Hawking's Last Words
Perhaps, Stephen Hawking’s last book "Brief Answers to the Big Questions" would have been a more optimistic last testament