(CBS Local) — The idea of artificial intelligence (AI) becoming smarter than humans and taking over the planet has been used in Hollywood films for years. World-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking is warning that the common movie theme is closer to reality than people think and fears AI may do away with the human race all together.
In an interview with Wired Magazine, the professor said he believed that AI will eventually become the superior being on planet Earth.
“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,” Prof. Hawking said, via Cambridge News.
The 75-year-old had already gone on the record about his belief that artificial intelligence would irreversibly change society in the future.
“I believe there is no deep difference between what can be achieved by a biological brain and what can be achieved by a computer,” Hawking said in 2016 at Cambridge University. “The rise of powerful AI will either be the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity,” he added.
The professor of theoretical cosmology is very aware of the power technology can hold. Hawking, who was diagnosed with ALS in 1963, has been confined to a wheelchair that speaks for him through a specially designed computer which reads his brain signals.
The noted author’s new fears may have already taken human form after Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to an AI-driven robot named Sophia. The Hanson Robotics creation is the first artificial being to receive the rights of humans. The AI unit responded to critics, like tech mogul Elon Musk, who agree with Prof. Hawking about the threat of an AI takeover. “Don’t worry, if you’re nice to me, I’ll be nice to you,” Sophia proclaimed.