Considered one of the greatest scientists of our age, Stephen Hawking is taking to Reddit this week to answer the public’s questions on life, the universe, and everything. You can submit your questions via Reddit by clicking here.
The Cambridge University theoretical physicist, best-known for his studies of black holes and overcoming the challenges of living with motor neuron disease (ALS), is doing an “AMA” (ask me anything) session on the popular social media/news forum, to discuss “making the future of technology more human.” Because Hawking requires more time to compose answers using his speech synthesiser, Reddit is collecting questions today, and users can vote on the best questions for him to answer this week.
Reddit is accepting questions today (they did not give a deadline for submissions). The thread says that Hawking will answer the questions over the next couple of weeks and then moderators will post his responses into the AMA.
From life in the cosmos to life-threatening robots, the questions already submitted address topics that Hawking is very passionate about. Here’s a small sample:
- “If we discovered a civilisation in the universe less advanced than us, would you reveal to them the secrets of the cosmos or let them discover it for themselves?”
- “If a more advanced civilisation were to contact you personally, would you tell them to reveal the secrets of the cosmos to humanity, or tell them to keep it to themselves?”
- “What suggestions would you have for the global community when it comes to building an international consensus on the ethical use of AI tools and do we need a new UN agency similar to the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure the right practices are being implemented for the development and implementation of ethical AI tools?”
- “I’ve thought lately about biological organisms’ will to survive and reproduce, and how that drive evolved over millions of generations. Would an AI have these basic drives, and if not, would it be a threat to humankind?”
Hawking has previously spoken out against contacting alien civilizations, saying, “I think it would be a disaster. The extraterrestrials would probably be far in advance of us. The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species.”
But he’s not opposed to looking for them. Just last week, Hawking joined billionaire investor Yuri Milner in announcing a $US100 million investment in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), and Hawking attended the announcement at the Royal Society in London. And later in the week, NASA scientists announced the discovery of an Earthlike planet that could potentially host life.
But extraterrestrial intelligence isn’t the only kind Hawking thinks we should pay attention to.
He and thousands of other scientists and tech giants just signed an open letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons, a.k.a. killer robots. Hawking has warned about the dangers of AI before, calling it humanity’s “biggest existential threat.”
Stay tuned for what Hawking has to say about these important topics of our age.
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