Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
 / Updated 

First, he gave hope to One Direction fans. Then, earlier this week at an event hosted by Google in London, famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking rubbed elbows with soccer star David Beckham. “I'm always being compared to you as a British icon and sometimes you rate higher and sometimes I do," Hawking wrote. Becks later posted about the experience on Facebook.

Aside from hobnobbing with David and Victoria Beckham, Hawking also warned about the risk killer robots posed to human existence. "It's tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent computers as mere science fiction, but that would be a mistake and potentially our worst mistake ever," he said. He cited the debate over autonomous weapons systems — robots that can target and kill without a human anyone pulling the trigger — and warned that bad actors or a computer-triggered crash could cause such weapons to do immense harm to humanity. Hawking also said that self-driving cars and Siri were "symptoms of an IT arms race." As a member of the Future of Life Institute, he pushed for more research into preventing harmful AI, which could be especially dangerous if it surpassed human intelligence. "One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders and," he said, "eventually subduing us with weapons we don't even understand."



— Keith Wagstaff