Hawking: Re-engineer humans or risk machine rule

If humans don't watch out, computers will take over the Earth, says Stephen Hawking.

Since computers double their capacity every 18 months, there's a real danger they will develop intelligence, the Cambridge University physicist told the German news magazine "Focus," which published the interview in its Monday edition.

Hawking's comments, reminiscent of the scenario in Stanley Kubrick's science fiction film "2001: A Space Odyssey," were published along with an introduction to his forthcoming book, "The Universe in a Nutshell."

Hawkings said scientists could deliberately change genetic material, increasing the complexity of DNA and thus improving humans.

It will be a slow process, because it takes around 18 years, or a generation, to determine the effects of genetic manipulation, he said.

It is vital to develop ways of keeping biological systems superior to electronic ones, Hawking continued. Humans must develop an interface that allows the human brain to be directly connected to a computer, so that the artificial brain contributes to human intelligence, rather than opposing it.

Hawking, who has the neurological disease Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (known in the U.S. as Lou Gehrig's disease) -- uses a motorized wheelchair and communicates with the aid of a portable computer and speech synthesizer.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Rick Perera

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?