Quotes by "Stephen Hawking"
The world has been changing even faster as people, devices and information are increasingly connected to each other. Computational power is growing and quantum computing is quickly being realised. This will revolutionise artificial intelligence with exponentially faster speeds. It will advance encryption. Quantum computers will change everything, even human biology. There is already one technique to edit DNA precisely, called CRISPR. The basis of this genome-editing technology is a bacterial defence system. It can accurately target and edit stretches of genetic code. The best intention of genetic manipulation is that modifying genes would allow scientists to treat genetic causes of disease by correcting gene mutations. There are, however, less noble possibilities for manipulating DNA. How far we can go with genetic engineering will become an increasingly urgent question. We can’t see the possibilities of curing motor neurone diseases—like my ALS—without also glimpsing its dangers. Intelligence is characterised as the ability to adapt to change. Human intelligence is the result of generations of natural selection of those with the ability to adapt to changed circumstances. We must not fear change. We need to make it work to our advantage. We all have a role to play in making sure that we, and the next generation, have not just the opportunity but the determination to engage fully with the study of science at an early level, so that we can go on to fulfil our potential and create a better world for the whole human race. We need to take learning beyond a theoretical discussion of how AI should be and to make sure we plan for how it can be. We all have the potential to push the boundaries of what is accepted, or expected, and to think big. We stand on the threshold of a brave new world. It is an exciting, if precarious, place to be, and we are the pioneers. When we invented fire, we messed up repeatedly, then invented the fire extinguisher. With more powerful technologies such as nuclear weapons, synthetic biology and strong artificial intelligence, we should instead plan ahead and aim to get things right the first time, because it may be the only chance we will get. Our future is a race between the growing power of our technology and the wisdom with which we use it. Let’s make sure that wisdom wins.
When I was growing up it was still acceptable—not to me but in social terms—to say that one was not interested in science and did not see the point in bothering with it. This is no longer the case. Let me be clear. I am not promoting the idea that all young people should grow up to be scientists. I do not see that as an ideal situation, as the world needs people with a wide variety of skills. But I am advocating that all young people should be familiar with and confident around scientific subjects, whatever they choose to do. They need to be scientifically literate, and inspired to engage with developments in science and technology in order to learn more. A world where only a tiny super-elite are capable of understanding advanced science and technology and its applications would be, to my mind, a dangerous and limited one. I seriously doubt whether long-range beneficial projects such as cleaning up the oceans or curing diseases in the developing world would be given priority. Worse, we could find that technology is used against us and that we might have no power to stop it. I don’t believe in boundaries, either for what we can do in our personal lives or for what life and intelligence can accomplish in our universe. We stand at a threshold of important discoveries in all areas of science. Without doubt, our world will change enormously in the next fifty years. We will find out what happened at the Big Bang. We will come to understand how life began on Earth. We may even discover whether life exists elsewhere in the universe. While the chances of communicating with an intelligent extra-terrestrial species may be slim, the importance of such a discovery means we must not give up trying. We will continue to explore our cosmic habitat, sending robots and humans into space. We cannot continue to look inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet. Through scientific endeavour and technological innovation, we must look outwards to the wider universe, while also striving to fix the problems on Earth. And I am optimistic that we will ultimately create viable habitats for the human race on other planets. We will transcend the Earth and learn to exist in space. This is not the end of the story, but just the beginning of what I hope will be billions of years of life flourishing in the cosmos. And one final point—we never really know where the next great scientific discovery will come from, nor who will make it. Opening up the thrill and wonder of scientific discovery, creating innovative and accessible ways to reach out to the widest young audience possible, greatly increases the chances of finding and inspiring the new Einstein. Wherever she might be. So remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious. And however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future.