Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has provided his first answers for his Reddit AMA, as he opens up about women, artificial intelligence and his favourite movie. The social news platform began taking questions for Hawking way back in June, and although questions normally get a response almost immediately when high-profile figures take part in an AMA session, due to the 73-year old's physical constraints, he has taken time answering questions.
Artificial intelligence was a hot topic for Reddit users, what with Hawking having previously being outspoken about the topic and he once again warned of the perils. Speaking of the risk of robotic life exceeding humans, he said: "The real risk with AI isn't malice but competence. A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren't aligned with ours, we're in trouble.
"You're probably not an evil ant-hater who steps on ants out of malice, but if you're in charge of a hydroelectric green energy project and there's an anthill in the region to be flooded, too bad for the ants. Let's not place humanity in the position of those ants. Please encourage your students to think not only about how to create AI, but also about how to ensure its beneficial use."
A related post saw one user ask if "technological employment" is a good thing and whether machines will put many humans out of jobs, Hawking added: "If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed. Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality."
However, there was time for more trivial subjects to be answered. The Oxford born and educated scientist revealed his favourite film is Jules Et Jim and that, in his opinion, the best song is Rod Stewart's Have I Told You Lately.
Despite being regarded as one of the most intelligent people in the world, there are still some things that baffle him. When asked what the most intriguing mystery is, Hawking said: "Women. My PA reminds me that although I have a PhD in physics, women should remain a mystery."