Life-changing moments from Stephen Hawking’s Reddit AMA

Stephen Hawking just did one of the greatest Reddit AMAs ever. It was also a completely different kind of AMA, as is noted on the page. Instead of a quick question and answer session, Reddit users submitted questions months ago, which were collected by Reddit mods and presented to Hawking. He then carefully and eloquently answered the questions he could, which were then turned over to the mods and cut and pasted back onto the site.

If you think that’s not fair, seeing as now no other AMA participant gets months to mull over their questions, remember this is Professor Hawking we’re talking about. We’re willing to give him all the time (both real and relative) in the world to answer some of life’s biggest questions. Many of the questions focused on his research on artificial intelligence, something that’s becoming more prominent every day — thanks to work by Hawking himself. Here are just a few of his best responses.

On whether machines could really ever overpower us

“If this [Artificial Intelligence] happens, we may face an intelligence explosion that ultimately results in machines whose intelligence exceeds ours by more than ours exceeds that of snails.”

On being cautions with AI

“There’s no consensus among AI researchers about how long it will take to build human-level AI and beyond, so please don’t trust anyone who claims to know for sure that it will happen in your lifetime or that it won’t happen in your lifetime.”

And on the dangers of AI 

“When it eventually does occur, 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. We should shift the goal of AI from creating pure undirected artificial intelligence to creating beneficial intelligence. It might take decades to figure out how to do this, so let’s start researching this today rather than the night before the first strong AI is switched on.”

On his favorite song, favorite movie, and last thing he found hilarious

“Have I Told You Lately” by Rod Stewart, Jules et Jim. . . The Big Bang Theory

On life’s biggest mystery

“Women. My PA reminds me that although I have a PhD in physics women should remain a mystery.”

(Image via Discovery Channel)