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Science & Technology

Hawking feared rise of enhanced 'superhumans'

By T.K. Randall
October 14, 2018 · Comment icon 15 comments



The celebrated physicist passed away earlier this year. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Lwp Kommunikacio / Flickr
The late physicist predicted that genetic engineering will ultimately render half of the world's population obsolete.
Hawking, who died back in March, left a collection of papers and articles which included some of his notes on the existential dangers our species may face in the coming decades.

Of particular interest were his thoughts on a future in which wealthy individuals might choose to have themselves and their children genetically enhanced, thus leading to a race of 'improved' superhumans.

"Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans," hawking wrote. "But some people won't be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life."
Once this begins to happen, genetically enhanced individuals could end up outclassing their 'unimproved' counterparts, creating a two-tier society that could prove disastrous for many.

"Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won't be able to compete," wrote Hawking. "Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate."

His thoughts echo those of others who believe that the future of our species lies, not in natural evolution, but in genetic modification and technological augmentation.

Some have even argued that such a transformation may have already begun.

Source: The Guardian | Comments (15)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Seti42 4 years ago
Just because someone is artificially genetically enhanced doesn't automatically mean they'd be in charge. Look at all the incredibly smart people who definitely are NOT in charge. Wealth (which one is born into 95% of the time) is what decides who rules. Sure, the wealthy could use eugenics and genetic manipulation, but...Again...It's the material wealth that puts them in charge, not having higher IQ's or enhanced immune systems, etc.
Comment icon #7 Posted by OverSword 4 years ago
Everything you ever need to know you can learn from Star Trek. This is the lesson of Khan Noonien Singh.
Comment icon #8 Posted by DirtyDocMartens 4 years ago
Attack robots, AI, looming environmental catastrophes, insanity in the White House,now this. Let's just get it over with already. Let the roaches have it.
Comment icon #9 Posted by RabidMongoose 4 years ago
I find it funny that a guy with such a severe disability would think preventing his condition by upgrading the genetics of the population is a bad thing. Bearing in mind he also acknowledges that there will be alien civilizations which are a threat to us how does he propose we deal with them? If we arent allowed to dramatically increase our intelligence levels using genetic engineering then what hope is there for us? I think what he is really against is a new class society emerging not genetic modifications.
Comment icon #10 Posted by danydandan 4 years ago
Everything is natural.
Comment icon #11 Posted by paperdyer 4 years ago
So Hawking watched Star Trek TOS SpaceSeed and STII - The Wrath of Kahn. Are the papers dated to see who that of it first? Roddenberry or Hawking?
Comment icon #12 Posted by freetoroam 4 years ago
I see tornados and extreme weather and volcanic eruptionsetc etc as natural disasters, man made war for what ever reason is not natural. Although some may see greed and the want of power to be a natural part of humans, they do not have to be. There is nothing natural about wanting to bomb our fellow man or blow up a whole city with a nuclear bomb.
Comment icon #13 Posted by danydandan 4 years ago
We are nature, nature is everything.
Comment icon #14 Posted by TripGun 4 years ago
I like Hawking, his wheels never stopped turning. Well until....
Comment icon #15 Posted by aztek 4 years ago
we should be looking forward enhancing , not be afraid of it. we are degenerating now, not improving, we are lazy obese, sick. we have self destructive habits, and make a lot of wrong choices. we need to modify us to survive toxic air\water\food, health destroying lifestyles, i'm not even talking about mental conditions, if we can fix that by genetic engineering, i'm all for it


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