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Stephen Hawking: Artificial Intelligence Could Be the End of Mankind

Space may be next frontier for Stephen Hawking

Cosmologist Stephen Hawking warned that independent artificial intelligence could doom mankind. "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race," Hawking told the BBC. While Hawking admits there are many benefits to the artificial intelligence developed so far, further refinements may mean the program "would take off on its own and redesign itself at an ever-increasing rate." Humans, according to Hawking, are limited by slow evolution and cannot compete. Hawking, subject of the recent biopic 'The Theory of Everything,' already uses a form of artificial intelligence to help him speak. The scientist suffers from the motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and uses a program designed by Intel and Swiftkey to speak. The program—using Hawking's now famous robotic voice—learns how he thinks and suggests words he might want to use. Hawking is not alone in fearing artificial intelligence. In October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said artificial intelligence is humanity's biggest existential threat.

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--- Emilia David, special to CNBC