Stephen Hawking Warns Artificial Intelligence Could Be a ‘Real Danger’, Robots Could ‘Outsmart Us’

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)
Last Week Tonight With John Oliver (YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

In a hilarious appearance on John Oliver’s HBO show, the famous physicist muses that robots could “outsmart us.”

I don’t want to frighten you. I’ll leave it to Stephen Hawking to do that.

The famed physicist made an appearance last night on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” and had a deep and meaningful conversation with host John Oliver. Well, at least Hawking’s side of the conversation was deep and meaningful.

Oliver asked him what was the one thing he most wanted people to grasp. Hawking replied: “Imaginary time.”

“Imaginary time is like another direction in space,” he said. “It’s the one bit of my work science fiction writers haven’t used.”

Honestly, I though that all sci-fi was written merely by adding blood, gore, and sex to the work of scientists. So why haven’t sci-fi writers built stories around imaginary time? “They don’t understand it,” he said.

I can’t pretend to understand it either. However, it’s something to do with time that runs in a different direction to the time that gnaws at us every day.

Most importantly, however, Oliver wanted to know about artificial intelligence. Like so many artificial things, it carries with it the idea that it could be noxious or even deadly.

Hawking was very reassuring: “Artificial intelligence could be a real danger in the not too distant future.”

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Chris Matyszczyk

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