World famous British theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, peacefully died this morning( 14th March, 2018) in his home at the age of 76.
His contribution towards Black Hole and relativity theory changed the way we perceive things. He gave us an understanding of this universe that God knows how long we would’ve taken to figure out on our own. We all know that Stephen Hawking was given only 2 years live at the prime age of 22, yet he lived against the odds. He lived in remarkable life even when he couldn’t walk or speak without voice synthesiser. His courage and persistence is a lesson to us all. We’ve everything yet how are we making a difference?
Here are few of Stephen Hawking’s warnings that I believe we should take seriously.
1. Abandon Earth Or Face Extinction
Although he was an optimist yet he warned humans to start thinking about life on other planets.
“I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” Hawking tells Big Think. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”
He emphasised that humankind’s survival has been nothing short of “a question of touch and go” he says, citing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 as just one example. FYI There are still about 22,600 stockpiled nuclear weapons scattered around the planet, 7,770 of which are still operational.
If we don’t end up killing ourselves through nuclear weapons, he still urged people to think about Earth’s survival in the long run. He argued that we are depleting our natural resources at a speed that with time we might face harsher natural disasters.
Finally, between the next 600 years or so that Hawking says it will take man to make the planet uninhabitable and the billion years it will take for the sun to turn our planet into an arid wasteland, there is always the chance that a nearby supernova, an asteroid, or a quick and painless black hole could do us in.. “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,”
2. Earth Could Turn into Venus
If we all collectively don’t work to halt climate change, the Earth could turn into Venus. He said that Venus once had the similar conditions to Earth with surface water, mild temperature and perfect atmosphere till the greenhouse effect burned the planet’s ocean and land. Although now Venus has around 250 degrees Celsius temperature with powerful winds of 3000mph.
Stephen Hawking showed his disapproval on the decision of Donald Trump to take the United States out of the Paris climate change agreement, an international effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and was signed by 195 nations in 2015.
Thus he concluded that Earth would either be hit by an asteroid again or eventually engulfed by our own Sun thus humans should setup a lunar base.
3. Artificial Intelligence could replace humans
Despite watching hundreds of movies on this topic, we still laugh off the possibility of AI replacing humans. Stephen Hawking warned that Artificial Intelligence will come to a level where it will replicate itself and become a new species which will outperform humans. If we see the history of survival of the fittest, we humans would be left far behind.
The emergence of artificial intelligence (AI) could be the “worst event in the history of our civilization” unless society finds a way to control its development, he emphasized. He pointed that AI will try to undo the damage done by humans to the earth and also get rid of poverty and suffering. This will be done to transform the world in a better place.
Success in creating effective AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” Hawking said during the speech.
“Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy.”
4. Hawking believed in aliens
Stephen Hawking not only just believed in the idea of having aliens in the universe but also warned us against announcing our presence to them as they can be more technologically advanced than us.
“Our first contact from an advanced civilization could be equivalent to when Native Americans first encountered Christopher Columbus and things “didn’t turn out so well”, Hawking said in a film. Also performing a hypothetical flyby of Gliese 832c, a potentially habitable exoplanet located 16 light years away, Hawking noted “One day we might receive a signal from a planet like Gliese 832c, but we should be wary of answering back.”
“They will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria,” Hawking warned.
He was also quoted as saying, “As I grow older I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone.” In the past too, Hawking had suggested that any civilization reading our messages could be billions of years ahead of humans.”
I don’t know how much of his predictions are true but it seems like we humans have accepted the possibility of all these. With SpaceX’s mission to Mars, it seems like we are going in the direction predicted by Stephen Hawking but will it be the best way for humans to survive? Only time will tell that but we surely need more geniuses like Stephen Hawking to challenge our understanding and knowledge.