TECH

Stephen Hawking Has Warned That AI Could 'Spell The End Of The Human Race'

02/12/2014 14:10 GMT | Updated 02/12/2014 14:59 GMT

Professor Stephen Hawking has raised his concerns over humanity's search to create artificial intelligence warning that if it were ever created it could "Spell the end of the human race."

The scientists was expanding on a question by the BBC about the current forms of AI that are found in his own laptop.

At present Professor Hawking uses an Intel-built laptop that combines state-of-the-art software including specially written language prediction software courtesy of UK-based company, Swiftkey.

stephen hawking

In order to communicate Professor Hawking uses a IR sensor to detect the movement in his cheek, this then allows him to pick letters.

Whereas before he would have to spell out the entire word, prediction software from Swiftkey is now tied into the process meaning he only needs to pick the first letter and then the laptop can predict what he wants to say next.

While this very low-autonomy intelligence has proved useful thus far, Professor Hawking warns that reaching further than our own intelligence levels could prove catastrophic for the human race.

"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate, humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded."

Hawking isn't the only prominent figure to warn about the risks of AI, indeed entrepreneur Elon Musk has declared that by inventing AI we would be "summoning the demon".

elon musk

Musk went on to call AI the "biggest existential threat" to our species right now.

Don't panic just yet, because even if we don't face a Terminator-style apocalypse Professor Hawking has handily pointed out in the past that we're actually find some other rather ingenious ways to end our own existence.

Earlier this year Prof Hawking warned that "God Particle" scientists are on the verge of ending the universe via the giant particle accelerators like the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

He predicted that if enough energy was directed at the Higgs Boson particle then it would become metastable, causing the following:

"This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light."

Thankfully the level of energy needed to create that outcome would -- with current technology -- require a particle accelerator larger than Earth.