Hawking the Hologram
Stephen Hawking is a real wonder to behold. The now 75-year-old astrophysicist was told that he wouldn't see past his 25th birthday due to his diagnosis of ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) or Lou Gehrig's disease. And, although he is bound to a wheelchair, his mind has wildly surpassed his physical limitations.
Embracing his lack of limitations, Hawking recently appeared as a hologram at an event in Hong Kong last week. During the talk, Hawking fielded questions about exoplanets, black holes, and other topics that firmly fit within his area of expertise. He also made a few enlightening comments about current affairs.
Hawking believes that "We are witnessing a global revolt against experts." He expressed frustration at the lack of confidence world leaders are showing toward scientists. Hawking pointed to willful ignorance in politics which allows for the continued degradation of our environment.
Previously, Hawking has also shared some harsh words about the tendencies of our species. "We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let's face it, is mostly the history of stupidity."
Answers in Science and Tech
However, his talk wasn't all doom and gloom. He explained, "The answer to these problems will come from science and technology."
The development of artificial intelligence (AI) and a continuing push toward greater space exploration are two such areas of particular focus for Hawking. He has spoken at length on both the potential and dangers of AI, saying that it will be "either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity". He notes the potential of AI to eradicate disease, and end poverty, but also warns of its ability to allow for "powerful autonomous weapons" and "new ways for the few to oppress the many."
As for the environmental challenges we face, there is hope there too. Even if world leaders ignore science, public opinion has shifted.