Stephen Hawking warns AI "could be a real danger"

Physicist cautions on artificial intelligence

Steven Hawking has warned that the race toward developing artificial intelligence could backfire on us.

Speaking on HBO's Last Week Tonight, Hawking warned that “artificial intelligence could be a real danger in the not too distant future”.

He said that the danger wasn't in the company that developed it, but rather the system itself further down the line.

Referring to Google's self-portray as the good-guys of tech, he said that it was irrelevant and that any AI could simply “design improvements to itself and outsmart us all.”

As you'd expect from comedian host John Oliver, he threw in a joke question. “Why should I not be excited about fighting a robot”, he asked Hawking.

Hawking replied: “You would lose.”

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Perhaps Oliver's biggest joke was questioning whether or not it was Hawking or his computer (pretending to be Hawking) talking to him. “You're an idiot”, was the response from Hawking.

That – we'll point out – wasn't a denial.

It also wasn't Hawking's only put down. Asked whether parallel universes existed, Hawking replied “Yes. And also a universe where you're funny.”