Stephen Hawking: Artificial Intelligence could spell end of human race


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World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC he believes future developments in artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to eradicate mankind.

The Cambridge professor, who relies on a form of artificial intelligence to communicate, said if technology could match human capabilities “it would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate.”

He also said that due to biological limitations, there would be no way humans could match the speed of development of technology.

“Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn’t compete and would be superseded,” he said.

“The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.”

Hawking suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a form of motor neuron disease, and uses AI technology as part of a system which senses how he thinks and predicts which words he will use next.

His bleak forecast came in response to questions about updates to his AI communication systems.

His latest upgrade, developed by Intel Corporation over the past three years, will allow the professor to write up to 10 times faster and communicate more effectively with friends, family and students.

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“With the improvements made, I am now able to write much faster, and it means that I can continue to give lectures, write papers and books and, of course, speak with my family and friends more easily.”

“This new system is life changing for me, and I hope it will serve me well for the next 20 years,” he said.

Other technology specialists do not share Hawking’s grim outlook. Rollo Carpenter, creator of Cleverbot, said he believes mankind will maintain control over technology.

“I believe we will remain in charge of the technology for a decently long time and the potential of it to solve many of the world problems will be realized,” he said.

Carpenter’s software responds to stimulation from conversations with actual humans, and has the capability to learn from its previous interactions.

Cleverbot has scored highly in the ‘Turing test’, which is designed to examine how closely machines can replicate human behavior.

We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can’t know if we’ll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” Carpenter added.

Technology and a rise in the capabilities of AI are already affecting workplaces nationwide, as many employers opt to invest in a machine, rather than hiring people.

In November, a study from the University of Oxford suggested that a third of UK jobs could be replaced by machines over the next two decades.

Low-paid jobs featuring repetitive tasks are most likely to be superseded by technology, with clerical and support service jobs most at risk.

The study further found that jobs with a salary under £30,000 are almost five times more likely to be replaced than jobs over £100,000.

Source : RT

Ground-Based Telescope Observes Exoplanet Transiting Bright Star


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 Graphical representation of an Exoplanet (Click Image to Download)

For the first time, an international team of astronomers has used a ground-based telescope to detect and observe the transit of a planet in front of a Sun-like star outside of our own solar system.

Until now, only space-based telescopes were capable of detecting the transits of exoplanets as they passed by bright stars.

Distortions caused by the atmosphere , the same phenomenon that makes stars look like they’re twinkling, makes it difficult for astronomers to observe transiting planets around bright stars from telescopes based on Earth.

In September, 2013, Japanese astronomers, using the ground-based Subaru telescope were able to observe the transit of super-Earth, GJ 1214b , but this exoplanet orbits a much dimmer star, known as a red dwarf.

According to team leader, Dr. Ernst de Mooij  of Queen’s University Belfast  in Northern Ireland, 55 Cancri e, was measured to have a diameter of about 26,000 km, which is twice that of Earth, but with eight times its mass.

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This artist’s conception shows the super-Earth 55 Cancri e (right) compared to the Earth (left). (NASA/JPL) (Click Image to Download)

The most recent achievement involves a super-sized Earth-like planet in a binary star system more than 40-light years away. Called 55 Cancri e , the planet orbits its primary star 55 Cancri A , in the constellation Cancer. The solar system’s secondary star, 55 Cancri B, is a red dwarf star which is located about 159,321,732,615 km from the primary star.

Scientists say that while the primary star can be seen with the naked eye, it takes ideal conditions such as a clear and moonless night.

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An artist’s concept of exoplanet 55 Cancri e as it closely orbits its star 55 Cancri A (NASA/JPL-Caltech) (Click Image to Download)

Previous studies have found that the planet makes one complete orbit around its sun in about 18 hours and that since its daytime temperature can reach nearly 1,700° Celsius, 55 Cancri e is not at all hospitable to life.

A number of small, extra-solar planets are expected to be discovered in the next ten years as new observational space missions — including NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) , and the European Space Agency’s Planetary Transits and Oscillations of Stars (PLATO)  –are launched.

Both PLATO – set to go in 2014 and TESS, scheduled for a 2017 launch – will look for transiting Earth-like planets circling nearby bright stars.

Source : blogs.voanews.com