Stephen Hawking Says We Have 1,000 Years to Leave Earth

Friday, 18 November 2016 - 2:37PM
Artificial Intelligence
Science News
Friday, 18 November 2016 - 2:37PM
Stephen Hawking Says We Have 1,000 Years to Leave Earth
Stephen Hawking's latest prediction for humanity is bleak, to say the least. The renowned theoretical physicist gave a speech on Tuesday in which he gave us a deadline for finding another planet to colonize. 

Opening quote
"I don't think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet," he said in a lecture at Oxford University (via Daily Express). "We must... continue to go into space for the future of humanity."
Closing quote


In a public Q and A session before the annual BBC Reith Lectures, Hawking explained that he strongly believes that leaving the planet behind is our best hope for survival as a species.

Opening quote
"Although the chance of disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years. By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race."
Closing quote


He went on to say that Earth's eventual messy end could be sped up even further by humanity's use of resources at unsustainable rates, as well as the overdevelopment of artificial intelligence. "Once humans develop artificial intelligence, it will take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate," he cautioned. "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded."

But Hawking is still hopeful. "We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we have to recognize the dangers and control them," he said. "I'm an optimist, and I believe we can." The key, he believes, is surviving the next century. "We will not establish self-sustaining colonies in space for at least the next hundred years, so we have to be very careful in this period." 

And though the challenges of keeping our species alive are great, NASA has been hunting for Earth-like planets with the potential for human colonization for the past seven years. Researchers have discovered more than 4,600 "candidate" planets and another 2,300 or so confirmed planets, according to NASA. 

Despite delivering an onslaught of bad news, Hawking's optimism shines through on his closing remarks: "From my own perspective, it has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics. There is nothing like the Eureka moment of discovering something that no one knew before." Even if that Eureka moment is regarding our doomsday, apparently.
Science
Space
Artificial Intelligence
Science News