Hawking misquoted on computers taking over

Discussion in 'Intelligence & Machines' started by Cris, Sep 14, 2001.

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  1. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member


    KurzweilAI.net recently posted a news item regarding Stephen Hawkings' comments on preventing computers from taking over, based on an interview originally published in the German magazine Focus. KurzweilAI.net has since learned that his comments were inaccurately reported in the media.

    To ensure accuracy, we asked Prof. Hawking to provide his original comments.
    They were:

    "With genetic engineering, we will be able to increase the complexity of our DNA, and improve the human race. But it will be a slow process, because one will have to wait about 18 years, to see the effect of changes to the genetic code. By contrast, computers double their speed and memories every 18 months. There is a real danger that computers will develop intelligence, and take over. We urgently need to develop direct connections to the brain, so that computers can add to human intelligence, rather than be in

    His comments were in response to this question from Focus magazine:

    "You mention a new species, which shall follow mankind one day. What do you think is more probable: Robot beings, endowed with a superior artificial intelligence, or by means of genetic engineering, an artificially evolved human super race with superior cognitive and other brain functions?" (Typos corrected.)

    Several newspapers and news services reported that Stephen Hawking said "humans should change their DNA through genetic modification to keep ahead of advances in computer technology and stop intelligent machines from 'taking over the world.'"

    Something was evidently lost in the English-to-German-to-English translation. Hawking in fact recommended direct connections to the brain to avert computers taking over, with genetic engineering as a longer-term solution.

    "This is more in line with my thinking than what was reported," said Ray Kurzweil, who had noted on KurzweilAI.net that "Hawking’s recommendation to do genetic engineering on humans in order to keep pace with AI is unrealistic. He appears to be talking about genetic engineering through the birth cycle, which would be absurdly slow. By the time the first genetically engineered generation grows up, the era of beyond-human-level machines will be upon us."

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  3. kmguru Staff Member

    Gene therapy works (when it works) in a matter of days. Cell regeneration may take a few months as in the case of Alzheimers. That is not the problem. The problem is understanding enough about DNA and what each gene sequence does - that is pretty much blind alley at this time.
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