In the midst of the debate about how dangerous technology can become if it continues to advance at such incredibly fast rates, Professor Stephen Hawking is siding with those who are deeply concerned about what the future of technology could mean for mankind.
Some people think the idea of robots destroying mankind is a far-fetched paranoia, while others believe this kind of future is much closer than most people would be willing to believe.
While there aren’t many claims to support a hostile robot takeover like many sci-fi flicks portray, there is enough evidence to suggest that the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) could have a drastic, negative impact on mankind.
“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” Hawking said, according to the BBC.
Hawking’s concerns are not that robots will launch a violent attack against the human race but rather that they will snatch jobs away from people and cause unemployment rates to skyrocket.
“It would take off on its own, and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate,” he added.
Hawking went on to say that humans are “limited by slow biological evolution” and this would allow machines with advanced artificial intelligence to essentially take over the job market.
Hawking’s comments came during a conversation about revamping the technology he uses to communicate every day, which one tech entrepreneur believes is exactly why people should not fear technological advancements.
Rollo Carpenter, the creator of Cleverbot, a program that learns users’ past conversations and responds to text messages automatically, pointed out that there is a possibility that people could seriously benefit from advancements in AI and that society will have to be willing to take a risk.
“We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” he told the BBC.
For most people, however, the idea of machines taking jobs away from Americans is enough to have them pass up on taking that risk.
Some stores have already started launching technologies that could possibly take jobs away from humans in the future.
Recently, certain Lowe’s stores introduced robot sales associates, known as OSHbots, that are able to assist customers with basic needs such as finding tools or checking prices on items.
For the average customer, that’s about all the help they will need.
The robots even have the ability to scan a screw or other tool that a customer comes in with and locate more of that item or similar items in the store.
As the robots continue to be upgraded over time, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched that certain stores will be able to drastically reduce how many human sales associates they need on the floor.
Another major concern in the digital age has been the accessibility that the Internet provides and the ability that tech-savvy hackers have that can allow them to steal personal information and breach top-notch security systems.
Hawking said that the Internet has grown dangerous for this very reason and that there needs to be an increased focus on making the Web more secure.
“More must be done by the Internet companies to counter the threat, but the difficulty is to do this without sacrificing freedom and privacy,” Hawking added.
With more and more Americans utilizing online banking, using virtual means to store private documents and the vast amount of information that is stored on every person’s device, the call to boost Internet security is more important now than it has ever been.