He has warned of the threat to our planet from overpopulation, climate change and diseases. Now Stephen Hawking has highlighted a danger to mankind: technology.
He says that technology must be controlled in order to safeguard the future of humanity and believes that a ‘world government’ could be the only way to combat the threat, though warned that that could lead to a global ‘tyranny’.
‘Since civilisation began, aggression has been useful inasmuch as it has definite survival advantages,’ he told The Times. ‘It is hard-wired into our genes by Darwinian evolution.
‘Now, however, technology has advanced at such a pace that this aggression may destroy us all by nuclear or biological war. We need to control this inherited instinct by our logic and reason.’
But he added that he believed the ‘the human race will rise to meet these challenges’. He said that the human race must ‘retrain’ for a new world where robots have replaced many everyday jobs.
Writing in The Guardian, Professor Hawking also revealed what worries him about the future of our planet. ‘We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans,’ he said.
‘Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.’
The physicist, who turned 74 this year, has previously issued warnings that robots could wipe out humanity and that leaving Earth is our only hope, and that our days on Earth are numbered.
In September Prof Hawking said that our planet is becoming a dangerous place because of the threat of war or disease. ‘I believe that life on Earth is at an ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as a sudden nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus, or other dangers,’ he said.
‘I think the human race has no future if it doesn’t go to space.’
Prof Hawking’s words to The Times echo comments made earlier this year while recording the BBC’s annual Reith Lecture.
When asked how the world will end, Hawking said that increasingly, most of the threats humanity faces come from progress in technology.
‘We are not going to stop making progress, or reverse it, so we must recognise the dangers and control them,’ he told Radio Times.