While many of us are setting our sights on 2018 — making promises to stop smoking, or exercise more, or be more forgiving of others — Stephen Hawking is busy figuring out whether we’ll even live long enough to see those goals met.
The renowned professor and physicist has presented five theories throughout 2017 on how the world could end, and some of them will be our own fault (obviously).
Stephen Hawking’s doomsday prophecies
1. Burning Earth
In less than 600 years, unless we become a multi-planetary species, the Earth will be so overpopulated that our energy consumption will make the planet burn red.
Professor Hawking spoke at a Tencent WE Summit Beijing in November, where scientists meet from all over the world to share ideas.
He reportedly said: “By the year 2600, the world’s population would be standing shoulder to shoulder, and the electricity consumption would make the Earth glow red-hot.”
In order to stop this, Hawking said we must develop the technology to travel at the speed of light, and escape the once-blue planet turned hellish, burning rock.
2. Robot Takeover
This year, Hawking said that artificial intelligence could eventually replace humans entirely.
Speaking in an interview to Wired he said: “We need to move forward on artificial intelligence development but we also need to be mindful of its very real dangers.
“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” he said. “If people design computer viruses, someone will design AI that replicates itself.
“This will be a new form of life that will outperform humans.”
3. Human aggression and nuclear technology will kill us in the end
Speaking to the BBC as part of his 75th birthday celebration, he said: “I fear evolution has inbuilt greed and aggression to the human genome.”
“There is no sign of conflict lessening, and the development of militarised technology and weapons of mass destruction could make that disastrous.
The best hope for the survival of the human race might be independent colonies in space.”
I’m not sure evolution can speak much for why we elected Trump, or the fact most humans are not aggressive, but he still has a point.
4. Out of Time
Professor Hawking says we need to explore our technological capabilities to the fullest in order to avoid extinction.
If we do not find another planet to live on, he says, then we will die due to anthropogenic climate change, overpopulation, disease pandemics, and/or advanced warfare.
This was covered in the 2017 BBC Two documentary ‘Expedition New Earth’ , in which the physicist enlisted engineer Christophe Galfard to explore the possibilities of interplanetary travel.
In his interview with Wired, he also expressed his belief that Earth had “reached the point of no return”.
5. Donald Trump (deep sigh)
Hawking has been vocal in his criticism of US president Donald Trump .
When Trump announced in May that he would not sign the Paris climate change agreement — which aims to tackle the threat of global warming — Hawking condemned his decision as reckless.
During his birthday celebrations in July, Hawking warned that Trump’s decision to withdraw would “push the Earth over the brink”.
He said: “We are close to the tipping point where global warming becomes irreversible. Trump’s action could push the Earth over the brink, to become like Venus, with a temperature of two hundred and fifty degrees, and raining sulphuric acid.
“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent if we act now.
“By denying the evidence for climate change, and pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement, Donald Trump will cause avoidable environmental damage to our beautiful planet, endangering the natural world, for us and our children.”
Not to mention he holds codes for over 6000 nuclear weapons, and has access to hundreds of thousands of other biochemical and explosive weapons of mass destruction, and commands one of the largest and most powerful militaries in the world, and of course heads the country responsible for most of the world’s emissions.