World-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking passed away Tuesday, leaving behind a legacy of innovation when it comes to understanding black holes, time and space, and the universe in general.
In recent years, Hawking, who suffered from Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder, was outspoken on a variety of issues, often addressing societal, environmental, and existential dilemmas plaguing humanity.
In 2016, he speculated that alien life exists but warned humanity to be cautious about pursuing relations with it, comparing extraterrestrials’ intentions to some of the worst exploitations humanity has inflicted on itself.
On multiple occasions, he echoed the sentiment that when the Native Americans first encountered Christopher Columbus, it “didn’t turn out so well.”
Hawking was also deeply skeptical of artificial intelligence.
“Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don’t know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it,” he said last year.
“Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy.”