October 13, 2015
(ANTIMEDIA) Stephen Hawking has been outspoken in recent years about the catastrophic dangers humanity faces in the 21st century. He said we should be cautious in attempting to contact aliens, warning that advanced extraterrestrial life may not be friendly toward us and could destroy the human race. He also stated we should be cautious in creating strong artificial intelligence. The renowned physicist joined Tesla’s Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and Google executive Demis Hassabis in signing a letter that warned against a military artificial intelligence arms race.
Hawking even issued a warning to the scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) about the dangers of the Higgs Boson “God Particle,” claiming it could initiate “catastrophic vacuum decay” — a quantum bubble that expands at the speed of light and wipes out the universe.
Recently, Hawking addressed the threat he says may be more far more dangerous to the future of human civilization than robots, aliens, or quantum particles: capitalist greed. During a Reddit AMA, he argued that the future is wrought with the peril of rampant inequality expedited by an automated machine-based global economic system.
“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed.” Hawking continued, “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”
Predictably, a dramatic response thread followed. Many commenters agreed with Hawking and denounced the globalist oligarchy that is currently consolidating wealth at an unprecedented rate. Responses ranged from calls for a “bloody revolution” to references to the recent films Elysium, Wall-E, and Zeitgeist 2: Addendum. One commenter invoked the anarcho-syndicalist political views of linguist Noam Chomsky.
The main theme of the discussion centered around the automation of labor and how that would affect the human workforce and the global economy. Hawking seems to believe that our current trajectory will make such automation a death knell for the working classes, with the bourgeoisie machine owners exerting total economic control over human civilization.
One commenter strongly disagreed with Hawking, referencing recent Journal of Economic Perspective articles and claiming “technology has never, will never, and simply cannot result in structural unemployment.”
The comment thread is a treasure trove of wide-ranging ideas that include:
~The efficacy, or lack thereof, of voting
~A “universal basic income”
~Techno-socialism, with “an open source decentralized consensus algorithm for the masses”
~A post-scarcity society run by strong artificial intelligence
This article (Stephen Hawking Warns About The Greatest Threat to Humanity) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Jake Anderson and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11pm Eastern/8pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, email email@example.com.
Since you’re here…
…We have a small favor to ask. Fewer and fewer people are seeing Anti-Media articles as social media sites crack down on us, and advertising revenues across the board are quickly declining. However, unlike many news organizations, we haven’t put up a paywall because we value open and accessible journalism over profit — but at this point, we’re barely even breaking even. Hopefully, you can see why we need to ask for your help. Anti-Media’s independent journalism and analysis takes substantial time, resources, and effort to produce, but we do it because we believe in our message and hope you do, too.
If everyone who reads our reporting and finds value in it helps fund it, our future can be much more secure. For as little as $1 and a minute of your time, you can support Anti-Media. Thank you. Click here to support us