Stephen Hawking is hosting a week-long Q&A on Reddit next week

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ask Stephen Hawking Anything in His First Reddit AMA.

The Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) series has seen plenty of cool science celebrities as guests, including Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye. The session is due to run on continuously (sort of, anyway) until Tuesday, August 4, so you’ve got plenty of time to squeeze in a few questions, upvotes, and loosely related cat gifs.Stephen Hawking is going to be taking the public’s questions next week during his first ever AMA – one that’s going to be handled a bit differently from how they usually play out on Reddit.

If you have a passion for theoretical physics or just science in general, Stephen Hawking will be available next week to take your questions during his first-ever AMA. Unlike previous AMAs, which take course over the span of one hour, Hawking’s stint under one of the Internet’s most popular microscopes will last for one full week; answers to questions posed during the AMA will then be doled out in the following weeks. The AMA has been extended for several reasons, but it’s mainly because Hawking’s assistive computer system takes a long to communicate compared to simply typing. I mean, where would we be if man had been too afraid to cross the oceans … or climb a mountain? “The search for extraterrestrial life received a major boost Monday with the launch of an ambitious $100 million program, backed by famed physicist Stephen Hawking and tech billionaire Yuri Milner. “Combining unprecedented computing capacity with the world’s most powerful telescopes, Hawking and the Russian-born Milner seek to intensify the so far fruitless search for life beyond the planet Earth.” The article (and attached video from the press conference at the Royal Society in London) notes the search for life will be 50 times more extensive than before.

This AMA is part of Wired and Nokia’s #MakeTechHuman initiative, which seeks to enable discussion about how technology can best serve humanity – Hawking is expected to use the platform to talk about his concerns with artificial intelligence, which he says is “potentially our greatest mistake in history”. Geoffrey Marcy, a University of California, Berkeley, astronomer who found most of our first exoplanets, said they will reach out to the nearest million stars, the nearest 100 galaxies and the entire plain of the Milky Way, which involves more than a billion stars.

It’s a way to let the 73-year-old Hawking — who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) when he was 21 — take his time answering questions. Hawking is said to be interested in discussing his thoughts on AI, particularly in relation to the letter that he, Elon Musk, and other major technology figures signed warning that artificial intelligence needs safeguards in order to remain within human control. While Hawking will cover myriad subjects, the main focus will be on artificial intelligence, something he said could “spell the end of the human race.” Hawking has been busy lately, giving his blessing to billionaire Yuri Milner’s $100 million project to search for alien life and giving props to NASA for the success of its New Horizons mission to Pluto. Apparently they will be collecting in one day the amount of data that would have taken a year to gather before, thanks to the powerful scopes and more focused use of computers.

And I certainly hope we don’t encounter anything like those bubble heads in the movie “Mars Attacks!” Let’s just hope life out there does not have Netflix. According to the AP article: “The messages will not be sent, however, in part because some scientists — including Hawking — fear messages sent into space could possibly spur aggressive actions by alien races.” LONNY CAIN, of Ottawa, is the former managing editor of The Times, now retired.

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