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Ask a question to Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking believes that artificial intelligence is dangerous: those robots may revolt and become our landlords. He co-authored a new letter with Elon Musk (text) demanding all man-made machines to be at least as stupid as a Tesla car to avoid "arms races" with the robots. Hawking himself has become much more powerful when his biological underpinnings have been enhanced by computer technology.

He must believe that he has become much more effective in answering people's questions. That's why he agreed to answer questions posted at reddit.com/r/science:

Science Ama Series: I am Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist. Join me to talk about making the future of technology more human, reddit. AMA!
So far, there are over 8,000 comments over there.

If you assume that there is approximately one question in each comment and the Sun will go red giant in less than 8 billion years, you may conclude that Stephen Hawking will have slightly less than one million years to address the average comment. Whether it's enough is yet to be seen.

A somewhat more serious topic than the destruction of the mankind by malicious, excessively clever robots (sorry, I am still much more afraid of ordinary machines controlled by the stupid people!): Alon E. Faraggi and Marco Guzzi have a new paper providing us with the free fermionic heterotic explanations of the \(2\TeV\) excess observed at ATLAS.

It could be due to a new \(Z'\) and/or \(W'\) boson, they say, but they argue that the possible new bosons of this kind that their seemingly "special" class of compactifications, the free fermionic heterotic ones, offer may be divided to seven basic categories:
  1. \(U(1)_{Z'}\in SO(10)\) of the grand unification
  2. \(U(1)_{Z'}\notin SO(10)\) of the grand unification but family-universal
  3. non-universal \(U(1)_{Z'}\)
  4. hidden sector \(U(1)\) symmetries with kinetic mixing
  5. left-right-symmetric models
  6. Pati-Salam models
  7. leptophobic and custodial symmetries
It's pretty cool that the free fermionic heterotic models are capable of producing all these ideas depending on the choice of the periodicities of the world sheet fermions and corresponding GSO projections. All these models are consistent but depending on technical details, they seem to cover almost all the good ideas that are considered by the phenomenologists.

By the way, you may always watch the plenary talks at EPS-HEP 2015 in Vienna (live).


I have looked at the Hawking-Musk Luddite letter a bit more carefully. They're not the only signatories. The letter is against "autonomous weapons". There are thousands or tens of thousands of signatures including those of Steve Wozniak, Lisa Randall, Frank Wilczek, Max Tegmark, Noam Chomsky, Barbara Grosz (the ex-chairbitch of an anti-Summers femi-Nazi task force) and so on and so on.

Autonomous weapons hysteria must be some new global warming-like hysteria that I must have almost completely missed!

These autonomous weapons are surely dangerous for the targets – which may include innocent targets if something goes wrong – but they're still weapons that can make certain operations more efficient and that are likely to give the civilized parties of various conflicts an edge – because they have a technological edge. Autonomous weapons could be helpful to fight the Islamic State and similar foes which is why I think that they may be a good idea. (And indeed, I can't get rid of the worry that those leftists oppose autonomous weapons exactly because they could be threatening for forces such as the Islamic State – organizations that these leftists semi-secretly root for.)

America builds an army of robots for the future

One must be careful what he produces and that it can't be abused by wrong overlords but otherwise it seems better to me when an autonomous robot, and not a 20-year-old soldier, is sacrificed in a fight with bloody savages. So my letter to the robotics experts is: Don't listen to these Luddites and keep on doing your job.

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