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.”

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.

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“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete, and would be superseded.”

“I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realised,” said Rollo Carpenter, creator of Cleverbot.

“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,” he says.

Prof Hawking is not alone in fearing for the future.

In the short term, there are concerns that clever machines capable of undertaking tasks done by humans until now will swiftly destroy millions of jobs.

Prof Hawking also talks of the benefits and dangers of the internet.

He quotes the director of GCHQ’s warning about the net becoming the command centre for terrorists: “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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