— The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automakers and other companies are working together to get fully computerized driverless cars on the roads, but the artificial intelligence (AI) involved has some very smart people worried about who will be controlling what.
According to physicist Stephen Hawking, computers have the potential to rule humanity and eventually destroy civilization as we know it, all because computers decide to ignore their "masters" and turn the tables.
And while NHTSA wants computers to take control of cars in the quest for less highway fatalities, Hawking told a technology conference in Portugal that humans must find a way to control computers instead of them controlling us.
Hawking, director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, says AI could alter the economy and in the end, replace humans completely.
Whether it's weapons or vehicles, autonomous technology could exceed human intelligence and block every human attempt to control the technology. And even if AI doesn't try to put us all in cages, Hawking says autonomous technology could simply decide to ignore humans and our wishes.
Professor Hawking doesn't doubt that good outcomes could arise from autonomous technology, but he's worried that people are depending on technology to save us from ourselves. Like urban sprawl invades a peaceful forest, Hawking says AI can expand to control the world as humans lose control of the planet.
Hawking isn't hopeful about the future as autonomous technology creeps in, as the professor has said multiple times that the only answer is for humans to blast off into space, permanently, finding new homes on a new planet.