Stephen Hawking views on technology and AI: Why Indian Government needs to pay attention

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Never has the technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) has hogg the d limelight as in present time. Countries, taking AI as very seriously, are US, Japan, UK and China.

Even Indian government is all geared to the deployment of data analytics in its public spheres introducing artificial intelligence (AI) across sectors such as healthcare, education, subsidies and benefits tracking, and data security. It has also formed a committee to make a roadmap to roll out a nationwide Artificial Intelligence (AI) programme.

While the government believes that AI can be used in multiple ways to reduce frauds by studying patterns and picking up data points to track, there are some other views on technology and AI expressed by researchers and scientists, which government might listen to avoid troubles in future.

Renowned physicist Professor Stephen Hawking, who passed away on Wednesday, has apart from shaping modern cosmology, expressed views on technology and impact of Artificial Intelligence on the human race.

“The rise of AI could be the worst or the best thing that has happened for humanity,” Hawking had warned that the creation of powerful artificial intelligence will be ‘either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity’.

“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether. If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself. This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans,” he said in an interview with Wired magazine.

Earlier in 2015, he had expressed fears that AI could grow so powerful it might end up killing humans unintentionally. He said that the real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence. A super-intelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.

He further appealed humanity to be aware of the dangers, identify them, employ the best possible practice and management and prepare for its consequences well in advance. According to him, solution to these problems is one world body. “This might mean some form of world government,” he added.

However, he acknowledged that technology will help eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.

Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease aged 21, also talked about the need to adopt a proactive approach by the internet companies to counter the threat, and not to sacrifice freedom and privacy.

Among many scientific achievements, he discovered that black holes leak energy and fade to nothing – a phenomenon that would later become known as Hawking radiation. His life story was the subject of the 2014 film The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne.

In January 2001, the British physicist visited India for the first time for 16 days. He also said that “Indians are so good at mathematics and physics.”

Meanwhile, the world including India might benefit many from his advice and can avoid many problems coming out of it in future. India see itself as leader in AI by 2030. This can only be realised if the government sees all dimensions of it and be aware off the positives and negatives both.

The US, Russia, and China see AI as the most important technology as the AI industry is expected to touch $153 billion by 2020.

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