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Stephen Hawking's last Reddit post was an ominous warning about the future of society

Stephen Hawking's last Reddit post was an ominous warning about the future of society

AI could propel us forward or be our downfall.

Stephen Hawking was a world-class physicist and best-selling author.

His observations and research blew the minds of many.

The Cambridge professor was also a vocal science communicator for social and political issues, including artificial intelligence and climate change.

In his last-ever Reddit post from 2016, he issued an ominous warning about the future of humanity and capitalism.

He talked about how technological automation might either benefit humanity or ultimately cause inequality to skyrocket and make life harder for the majority.

'If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed,' Hawking wrote in an AMA ('Ask Me Anything') session.

He continued: 'Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.

'So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.'

In the same AMA thread, Hawking discussed the possibility of AI exceeding human intelligence and what that means for us.

'It's clearly possible for a something to acquire higher intelligence than its ancestors: we evolved to be smarter than our ape-like ancestors, and Einstein was smarter than his parents,' he exemplified.

'The line you ask about is where an AI becomes better than humans at AI design, so that it can recursively improve itself without human help. If this happens, we may face an intelligence explosion that ultimately results in machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails.'

Bryan Bedder/Stringer / Getty
Bryan Bedder/Stringer / Getty

It's a pretty wild observation!

Hawking also made the point that the real risk with AI is 'competence' rather than malice.

He put it: 'A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.'

People have been revisiting the forum to remember what a legendary man we lost six years ago.

'This world has just lost a great man and a great mind. What he gave humanity we may yet to even truly understand,' the top comment read.

'The sad thing is that we have the ability to change the world in our own vision but the most powerful have driven wedges between so many different demographics that no one can find a common direction. We CAN choose a different future but I think we are too lazy,' another wrote.

Hawking had previously talked about his thoughts on artificial intelligence in a 2014 BBC interview.

Featured Image Credit: Bryan Bedder/Stringer / Justin Sullivan/Staff / Getty