Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking Unveil $100m Voyage to the Stars

Eminent astrophysicist Professor Stephen Hawking has joined forces with science investor and philanthropist Yuri Milner to launch a revolutionary $100m “moonshot” which aims to send a miniature spacecraft hurtling across the galaxy, propelled by lasers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also joined the board of the organisation, known as Breakthrough Starshot.

“Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for light-propelled nanocrafts,” the official press release reads. “These could fly at 20 percent of light speed and capture images of possible planets and other scientific data in our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, just over 20 years after their launch.”

Breakthrough Starshot aims to send Nanocrafts – tiny robotic spaceships with a gram-scale mass and tiny lightsails, propelled using a 100 billion-watt laser – on a twenty-year journey, at one-fifth the speed of light, 25 trillion miles (4.37 light years) across the Milky Way to the Alpha Centauri star system.

The announcement coincides with the 55th Anniversary of the first orbit of the Earth by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, after whom Milner is named.

“The human story is one of great leaps,” Milner said. “55 years ago today, Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Today, we are preparing for the next great leap – to the stars.”

“Earth is a wonderful place, but it might not last forever,” added Stephen Hawking, “Sooner or later, we must look to the stars. Breakthrough Starshot is a very exciting first step on that journey.”

“We take inspiration from Vostok, Voyager, Apollo and the other great missions,” said Pete Worden, former director of NASA AMES Research Center and advisor to Breakthrough Starshot. “It’s time to open the era of interstellar flight, but we need to keep our feet on the ground to achieve this.”

Image courtesy of The Guardian.

Stephen Hawking’s First Reddit AMA Date Revealed

Cosmologist and theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking is definitely one of the smartest people in the world right now, and despite the fact that he suffers from a rare form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, he is still one of the most respected members of the scientific community. Because of his illness, Hawking is basically incapable of speaking as a normal human would and instead relies on a special computer to communicate. Therefore, conducting interviews with him is usually quite difficult and requires a bit of preparation, which means that regular science enthusiasts have a hard time getting in touch with him.

Fortunately, Stephen Hawking will be the host of his own Ask Me Anything session on Reddit starting next week. The event will kick off on Monday, July 27 at 8am Eastern, and it will remain open until August 4. During this time, Hawking will do his best to answer as many questions as possible, which means that if you ever wanted to pick his brain about something, this will be your best chance. Usually, these AMA sessions last just a few hours, but given Stephen’s disability, this one will last for several days. The most numerous questions will probably be related to his crowdsourcing initiative to search for extraterrestrial life.

Thank you TechSpot for providing us with this information.

Stephen Hawking Reveals His Thoughts About Artificial Intelligence

If you are thinking about a Terminator scenario when hearing the word ‘advanced artificial intelligence’, then you are not alone. Stephen Hawking makes his own predictions and states that artificial intelligence will overtake humans in just 100 years. This does not necessarily mean we will become extinct or enslaved by AI, but we do have to tread carefully when it comes to this technology.

“Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.” Stephen Hawking stated. “Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.” he added.

To put it plainly, it means that technology advances so fast that we can barely get a grip on it. This is why Hawking warns companies who deal with AI technology should take it down a notch and coordinate with others operating in the same field.

However, we may have went past that point today. Reports show that over 150 startup companies in Silicon Valley are already working on AI and more are expected to enter the latter area of research in the future too.

I tend to agree with Hawking’s last paragraph because let’s face it, in the end we will be speaking to a fully conscious machine sooner or later. But it is how we react to it and it reacts to us that will make the decisive moment.

Thank you Tech World for providing us with this information

Bill Gates the Latest to Warn of the Dangers of AI

Following grim portents from the likes of Elon Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has also warned of the potential threat that artificial intelligence (AI) could pose to humanity.

In an AMA on reddit, Gates said, “I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence. First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well.”

“A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.”

Gates’ words directly contradict the opinion of Microsoft Research Eric Horvitz, who said, “There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences. I fundamentally don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Source: BBC

Latest Trailer for Stephen Hawking Movie Released

The trailer for The Theory of Everything has been released, depicting the life and struggle of Stephen Hawkings. There are few people in the modern world that haven’t heard of Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of several generations.

It’s no secret that movie studios release their films close to Christmas when they have confidence that they’re going to be successful. A November 7th release date for The Theory of Everything certainly bodes well for this movie and you only have to see the trailer below to know that it’s already shaping up to be a hit.

[youtube width=”800″ height=”450″]http://youtu.be/Salz7uGp72c[/youtube]

Thank you CNET for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of CNET.

Stephen Hawking Warns Of An A.I. Controlled Future

Advances in AI technology are all around us, Google have their Google Now service, Apple have Siri, Microsoft have Cortana and that’s just the world of mobile phone technology and search engines! Beyond that we have self driving cars,  supercomputers such as the Jeopardy winning Watson and more. These are great technologies in many ways, but legendary theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, as well a few other leading scientists such as Stuart Russell, Max Tegmar and Frank Wilczek have giving their opinion on the world of AI.

They warned that the race to create advanced AI may not be a great idea, “”The potential benefits are huge. Success in creating AI would be the biggest event in human history.” they said, “unfortunately, it might also be the last” they added. They went on to discuss that while we do have the technology to begin creating computers that are more powerful than the human brain, it may not be a good idea to do so. When AI gets so intelligent that it can start improving independently, then we may run into issues.

“One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders and developing weapons we cannot even understand,” the scientists write. “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

They added that there are several organizations doing research on this subject to help learn and avoid the risks involved, but will anyone heed their advice? It all sounds a little like Skynet from Terminator, or countless other science fiction stories, but the fact is, our technological advancement really is heading in that direction.

Thank you TechRader for providing us with this information.