Stephen Hawking was of the view that humans need to leave the Earth in the next 200 years if they wish to survive. He issued this warning just months before his death. Life on Earth could be wiped out by an asteroid strike, AI or alien invasion in the mind of the brilliant physicist. He also warned about causes such as over-population, human aggression and climate change.
One of the biggest fears of Professor Stephen Hawking was global warming. “Our physical resources are being drained, at an alarming rate. We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change. Rising temperatures, reduction of the polar ice caps, deforestation, and decimation of animal species. We can be an ignorant, unthinking lot.” he said in July.
Hawking believed that Earth could one day look like the planet Venus if greenhouse gas emissions are not cut down. “Next time you meet a climate change denier, tell them to take a trip to Venus. I will pay the fare,” Hawking quipped. “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible,” He told BBC last year.
Asteroid strikes are what we are used to seeing in movies but Hawking did not think it a joke and really did believe that Earth will be destroyed by an asteroid strike. “This is not science fiction. It is guaranteed by the laws of physics and probability. To stay risks being annihilated. Spreading out into space will completely change the future of humanity. It may also determine whether we have any future at all.”
Hawking was working with Russian billionaire Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Starshot project to send a fleet of tiny nanocraft carrying light sails on a four light-year journey to Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to Earth. “If we succeed we will send a probe to Alpha Centauri within the lifetime of some of you alive today,” he said. “It is clear we are entering a new space age. We are standing at the threshold of a new era. Human colonisation and other planets is no longer science fiction, it can be science fact.”
AI Replacing Humans:
According to Stephen Hawking AI will soon be reaching new levels where it will be a “new form of life that will outperform humans.” He even said that a time may come when AI will completely replace humans but did not specify a timeline for it.
During an interview with Wired, he said, “The genie is out of the bottle. I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”
He firmly believed that an AI apocalypse is approaching and if people don’t start paying more attention to science and there is no regulatory body to control it then there will be “serious consequences”.
Hawking warned that humanity’s biggest failing was aggression and it could “destroy it all”. In 2015, when talking to an audience in the Science Museum, he was asked what human shortcoming he would change and he said, “The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression. It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or a partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all.”
He was of the fear that it had been built into the human genome by evolution and that he did not see the conflict lessening anytime soon. The development of militarised technology and weapons of mass destruction is not helping matters any and is making it even more dangerous. He firmly believed that empathy was the best of human emotions and could bring all of humanity together.
Stephen Hawking firmly believed that we are not alone in the universe and if we were to come across any alien life forms, they would most definitely wipe us out.
“As I grow older I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone,” he said in a video posted online called Stephen Hawking’s Favourite Places.The clip showed him visiting different locations across the cosmos. One of the places he visits is Gliese 832c, a planet that people speculate could be home to alien life.
“One day we might receive a signal from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering back. Meeting an advanced civilization could be like Native Americans encountering Columbus. That didn’t turn out so well”, he said.
As he got older, his belief was only strengthened and he started a new project called the Breakthrough Listen project to investigate. He believed that the alien civilisation would be “vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.”
You don’t have to be a genius to figure this one out and Stephen Hawking was a genius and he knew a man-made catastrophe could result in the end of humanity. “For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together,” Hawking said in a Guardian opinion piece in 2016. “We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity.”
In the November of 2016, Hawking said that humans can not survive another 1,000 years on this fragile planet. At a talk in Cambridge, he gave a 0ne-hour lecture on the history of man’s understanding of the origin of the universe. “Perhaps one day we will be able to use gravitational waves to look back into the heart of the Big Bang. Most recent advances in cosmology have been achieved from space where there are uninterrupted views of our Universe but we must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping our fragile planet.”
Hawking expressed interest in going to space and even said, “I, therefore,e want to encourage public interest in space, and I have been getting my training in early. It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years and I am happy if I have made a small contribution. The fact that we humans who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature have been able to come so close to understanding the laws that are governing us and our universe is a great achievement.”
Hawking has previously described his views on the future of space travel, in the afterword of the book, “How to Make a Spaceship.” He said: “I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers. I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space.”
Stephen Hawking completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Oxford where he himself completed his undergraduate degree. To the young people studying there, he said, “Remember to look up to the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious and however life may seem there’s always something you can do and succeed at – it matters that you don’t just give up.”
Stephen Hawking was a genius and all the concerns he has raised are very genuine. If we do wish to prosper as a race, we need to heed these suggestions.