Nov 17, 2019
“Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years. By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.”
If humanity survives the rise of artificial intelligence, the ravages of climate change and the threat of nuclear terrorism in the next century, it doesn’t mean we’re home free, according to Stephen Hawking.
The renowned theoretical physicist has gone as far as providing humanity with a deadline for finding another planet to colonize: We have 1,000 years.
Remaining on Earth any longer, Hawking believes, places humanity at great risk of encountering another mass extinction.“Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or ten thousand years. By that time we should have spread out into space, and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race.”
“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious.”
So, according to famed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, it’s time to free ourselves from Mother Earth. “I believe that the long-term future of the human race must be in space,” Hawking tells Big Think. “It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster on planet Earth in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand, or million. The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet. Let’s hope we can avoid dropping the basket until we have spread the load.”
Hawking says he is an optimist, but his outlook for the future of man’s existence is fairly bleak. In the recent past, humankind’s survival has been nothing short of “a question of touch and go” he says, citing the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963 as just one example of how man has narrowly escaped extinction. According to the Federation of American Scientists there are still about 22,600 stockpiled nuclear weapons scattered around the planet, 7,770 of which are still operational. In light of the inability of nuclear states to commit to a global nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the threat of a nuclear holocaust has not subsided.
In fact, “the frequency of such occasions is likely to increase in the future,” says Hawking, “We shall need great care and judgment to negotiate them all successfully.”
Renowned for his work on black holes and the origins of the cosmos, Hawking is famous for bringing esoteric physics concepts to the masses through his best-selling books, including “A Brief History of Time,” which sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. Hawking titled his hourlong lecture to Cedars-Sinai employees “A Brief History of Mine.”
I like this advice from Hawking: “Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Be curious.”
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