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Stephen Hawking Warns Of 'Terminator'-Style Menace

Stephen Hawking warns that machines could take over the world.

InformationWeek Staff

September 5, 2001

1 Min Read

Nobody took Arnold Schwarzenegger seriously when he showed us the dangers of artificial intelligence in the "Terminator" movies. Likewise Keanu Reeves in "The Matrix"--you thought that was just a cool kung fu flick, didn't you? But now no less a respected source than Stephen Hawking is sounding a warning about humankind being overrun by computers.

"In contrast with our intellect, computers double their performance every 18 months," warned the genius physicist in a recent interview with the German newsmagazine Focus. "So the danger is real that they could develop intelligence and take over the world." Hawking, the wheelchair-bound author of the best-selling book "A Brief History Of Time," serves as the Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge University, a post once held by Isaac Newton.

But don't panic just yet--there's still hope for mankind. To prevent a "Terminator"-style standoff against the machines, Hawking advises us to improve our intelligence through genetic engineering, or perhaps by wiring ourselves to the computers directly. Said Hawking, "We must develop as quickly as possible technologies that make possible a direct connection between brain and computer, so that artificial brains contribute to human intelligence rather than opposing it."

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