World-renowned physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking (1942-2018) left behind a trail of famous quotes, wise words, and inspirational sayings before his death. But he’s also known for his real talk, telling audiences that humankind is greedy and a threat to the planet.
In 2016, during an interview with Larry King of the Larry King Now talk show, Hawking said that humankind has always been its own greatest problem. We are consciously careening too close to a time when climate change would be irreversible, and sadly, there is no breakthrough in sight.
“We certainly have not become less greedy or less stupid,” Hawking said . “Six years ago I was worrying about pollution and overcrowding. They have gotten worse since then. The population has grown by half a billion since our last meeting [six years prior], with no end in sight. At this rate, it will be eleven billion by 2100.
In another interview with BBC, Hawking said, “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.”…
“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now.”
Interplanetary relocation as the only plausible solution
While there may still be a chance to save the earth, Hawking was convinced that humankind would never see reasons to take solid, united and well-targeted actions. In his words, “[…]evolution has inbuilt greed and aggression to the human genome. There is no sign of conflict lessening, and the development of militarized technology and weapons of mass destruction could make that disastrous.”
The only way to preserve our species would be to secure some sort of backup planet for a time when the earth would become completely inhabitable.
“The best hope for the survival of the human race might be independent colonies in space.”
On pollution and AI abuse
Hawking mentioned that air pollution was getting rapidly out of hand as the growth curve had taken a steady climb in the past five years.
“Air pollution has increased over the past five years,” he said . “More than 80% of inhabitants of urban areas are exposed to unsafe levels of air pollution.”
Air pollution is the largest contributor to climate. The major cause of air pollution today is fossil fuel combustion, a by-product of industrialization and as humankind has ruled it, there’s no turning back from the advancements of the modern era.
Hawking also discussed Artificial intelligence with King, stating that world governments are dangerously engaging in “an AI arms race.”
“A rogue AI could be difficult to stop,” the physicist said. “We need to ensure that AI is designed ethically with safeguards in place.”
Artificial intelligence has a lot of benefits, but when used to fulfill the wrong agenda, it can become a tool of massive invasion and destruction.
According to researcher Kate Crawford in 2017, “Just as we are seeing a step function increase in the spread of AI, something else is happening: the rise of ultra-nationalism, rightwing authoritarianism and fascism,” she said to The Guardian .
Stephen Hawking (estimated IQ – 162) was best known for his contributions to the fields of cosmology, general relativity, and quantum gravity, especially in the context of black holes. The Cambridge and Oxford trained scientist was diagnosed with a slow-progressing form of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a motorneurone disease that left him paralyzed for much of his life.
He made an ever-lasting impact in the world of science and physics, leaving numerous authored books and inspirational quotes to his name.
- John Zambis. Stephen Hawking: Greed And Stupidity Are What Will End The Human Race. The Intellectualist. https://mavenroundtable.io/theintellectualist/science/stephen-hawking-greed-and-stupidity-are-what-will-end-the-human-race-xNA9_p9ZkEubbQPb3BBh6A. Retrieved 20-01-2020
- LA. Stephen Hawking: Greed, stupidity greatest threats to Earth. Associated Press. https://apnews.com/be53fc24c4ff476f929237d042125621/stephen-hawking-greed-stupidity-greatest-threats-earth. Retrieved 20-01-2020
- Olivia Solon. Artificial intelligence is ripe for abuse, tech researcher warns: ‘a fascist’s dream’. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/13/artificial-intelligence-ai-abuses-fascism-donald-trump. Retrieved 20-01-2020
- Pallab Gosh. Hawking says Trump’s climate stance could damage Earth. BBC. https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-40461726. Retrieved 20-01-2020
- Stephen Hawking. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Hawking. Retrieved 20-01-2020