New Race of ‘Superhumans’ Could Destroy Humanity: Stephen Hawking Warns in his Last Essay
Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s best-known theoretical physicists who died seven months ago, had warned against a new race of “superhumans” created as a result of genetic engineering that could destroy humanity from beyond the grave.
The British author of the definitive ‘A Brief History of Time’, who famously often threw up the prospect of time travel, made his last prediction about scary superhumans in a final collection of articles and essays to be published next week.
Hawking suggests that wealthy people will soon be able to choose to edit their own and their children’s DNA to create superhumans with enhanced memory, disease resistance, intelligence and longevity. Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete. There will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate,” noted the scientist, who suffered from motor neuron disease that had left him almost completely paralysed for most of his life.
Hawking’s theory refers to techniques such as Crispr, a DNA-editing system that allows scientists to modify harmful genes or add new ones. Crispr, or Crispr-Cas9 as it’s scientifically known, is an existing process that allows scientists to precisely target and edit pieces of the genome. It works like a scalpel on the molecular level, allowing us to slice out and splice in parts of the genetic code as we see fit. Right now, scientists are using it to do everything from creating bountiful new strains of rice, to reversing the signs of aging, to making our astronauts better able to traverse the depths of space.
But the problem, as Hawking explains, is that the technology is incredibly expensive, and will probably remain so for decades. Because of that, only the very wealthy will be able to afford it, offering them another unfair advantage over the poorer sections of society. And the cherry on the cake is this is still controversial because no country in the world has put regulations into place regarding how much editing of a human being is morally okay. “Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans,” Hawking adds.
We have moved beyond affecting the planet at the landscape scale to interfering with its very metabolism at the global scale.All the indications are that the limitations of our brains, both individually and collectively, leave us incapable of addressing the challenge.On this basis the future looks desperately gloomy,” he said.
Hawking isn’t worried about an AI going rogue, and rightly so. Instead, he fears its unrestricted development by humans that inherently make mistakes, and that too without any sort of oversight.