Written by Darlei Dall’Agnol
Stephen Hawking has recently made two very strong declarations:
- Philosophy is dead;
- Artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.
I wonder whether there is a close connection between the two. In fact, I believe that the second will be true only if the first is. But philosophy is not dead and it may undoubtedly help us to prevent the catastrophic consequences of misusing science and technology. Thus, I will argue that it is through the enhancement of our wisdom that we can hope to avoid artificial intelligence (AI) causing the end of mankind.
The first statement by Professor Hawking was made in the context of arguing that the nature of the universe could not be resolved without hard empirical data such as that provided by the Large Hadron Collider, the largest and most powerful particle collider in activity. This may well be the case. He then went on to explain “Most of us don’t worry about these questions most of the time. But almost all of us must sometimes wonder: Why are we here? Where do we come from? Traditionally, these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.” He finally concluded: “Philosophers have not kept up with modern developments in science. Particularly physics.” It is difficult to see exactly what Professor Hawking meant, but he seems to subscribe to the dominant naturalist view, which asserts that scientific research and philosophical investigations are just continuous theoretical activities. This implies also that we could solve philosophical problems through scientific means.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.