Physicist Stephen Hawking has warned humanity that we probably only have about 1,000 years left on Earth, and the only thing that could save us from certain extinction is setting up colonies elsewhere in the Solar System.
“[W]e must … continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” Hawking said in a lecture at the University of Cambridge back in 2016. “I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”
The fate of humanity appears to have been weighing heavily on Hawking of late – he’s also recently cautioned that artificial intelligence (AI) will be “either the best or the worst, thing ever to happen to humanity”.
And that’s not even the half of it.
Imagine we’re dealing with unruly robots that are so much smarter and so much stronger than us, and suddenly, we get the announcement – aliens have picked up on the signals we’ve been blasting out into the Universe and made a contract.
Great news, right? Well, think about it for a minute. In the coming decades, Earth and humanity aren’t going to look so crash-hot.
We’ll be struggling to mitigate the effects of climate change, which means we’ll be running out of land to grow crops, our coasts will be disappearing, and anything edible in the sea is probably being cooked by the rapidly rising temperatures.
If the aliens are aggressive, they’ll see a weakened enemy with a habitable planet that’s ripe for the taking. And even if they’re non-aggressive, we humans certainly are, so we’ll probably try to get a share of what they’ve got, and oops: alien wars.
As Hawking said in his film, Stephen Hawking’s Favorite Places, “I am more convinced than ever that we are not alone,” but if the aliens are finding us, “they will be vastly more powerful and may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria”.
Clearly, we need a backup plan, which is why Hawking’s 1,000-year deadline to destruction comes with a caveat – we might be able to survive our mistakes if we have somewhere else in the Solar System to jettison ourselves to.
That all might sound pretty dire, but Hawking says we still have a whole lot to feel optimistic about, describing 2016 as a “glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics”.
While John Oliver might disagree that there’s anything good about 2016 at all, Hawking says we need to “Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.”
“Try to make sense of what you see, wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious,” he told students at the Cambridge lecture. “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.”
This article (Humanity only has around 1,000 years left on Earth, Stephen Hawking predicts) was published by Thinking Humanity and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to thinkinghumanity.com
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