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Stephen Hawking talks killer robots, favorite song in Reddit AMA

Famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking's answers to his first-ever Reddit AMA were revealed on Thursday.
Scientist Stephen Hawking speaks via satellite during an event on Jan. 14, 2010 in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty)
Scientist Stephen Hawking speaks via satellite during an event on Jan. 14, 2010 in Pasadena, Calif.

Back in July, famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking began taking questions for his first-ever Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) session. Thursday morning, his answers were revealed.

In what turned out to be the third largest AMA in Reddit's history, a lot of people were curious to know if Hawking thought machines are going to rise up and destroy humanity.

"The real risk with AI isn't malice but competence," Hawking wrote, referring to artificial intelligence. "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."

He added, "Let's not place humanity in the position of those ants."

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So what can we do, aside from sending Arnold Schwarzenegger into the past like in "The Terminator"? We should be researching how to create "beneficial intelligence" instead of letting loose "undirected artificial intelligence," Hawking said.

"It's likely to be either the best or worst thing ever to happen to humanity, so there's huge value in getting it right," he said in the AMA conducted by Nokia and WIRED.

Hawking, who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), told Redditors in July that he would be answering questions at his "own pace." The questions didn't focus completely on killer robots. Hawking also revealed his favorite song (Rod Stewart's "Have I Told You Lately") and his favorite film (François Truffaut's French New Wave classic "Jules et Jim"). The last thing that made him laugh? "The Big Bang Theory."

As for the mystery he finds most intriguing, he didn't mention black holes or extraterrestrial life.

"Women," he said. "My PA reminds me that although I have a PhD in physics, women should remain a mystery."

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