For the next nine days, the Reddit community will have the opportunity to pose questions to one of the world's most extraordinary human beings — and a pretty good physicist as well.
Stephen Hawking will participate in the social network's famed Ask Me Anything (AMA) series, an event previously hosted by other scientists like Bill Nye and Neil deGrasse Tyson. While Reddit users will be able to submit all kinds of questions, the focus of the AMA will be on the future of artificial intelligence — and the safeguards that are needed to ensure its remains beneficial to mankind.
Back in January, Hawking joined SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk in signing an open letter warning of the future dangers of AI. While such technology could be beneficial to "eradicate disease and poverty," they said the dangers of AI becoming too smart and causing harm should not be discounted.
"We recommend expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial: our AI systems must do what we want them to do," the letter states.
More recently, this week Musk and Hawking joined more than 1,000 scientists in signing another open letter warning against the rise of offensive autonomous weapons.
"Autonomous weapons are ideal for tasks such as assassinations, destabilizing nations, subduing populations and selectively killing a particular ethnic group," the letter states. "We therefore believe that a military AI arms race would not be beneficial for humanity. There are many ways in which AI can make battlefields safer for humans, especially civilians, without creating new tools for killing people."
For those not interested in AI or the rise of robots, Hawking will also be answering questions relating to space, time and anything else that might make it to the top of the pile. All queries will be voted upon by the Reddit community, with those receiving the most upvotes scoring some screen time with the AMA moderators.
Because of Hawking's amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease, the 73-year-old will answer questions at his own pace over the next several weeks. So far, nearly 6,000 questions and comments have been submitted, with some at the top exploring such topics as future unemployment due to intelligent automation, the rise of dangerous AI, and what happens to information in a black hole that "evaporates."
In other words, we're in for an epic Reddit AMA over the next several weeks. Got a question for Hawking? You have until August 4 to submit them to the Reddit community here.
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