From Stephanie Pappas at LiveScience:
Stephen Hawking thinks humanity has only 1,000 years left of survival on Earth and that our species needs to colonize other planets.
The famed physicist made the statement in a speech at Oxford University Union, in which he promoted the goal of searching for and colonizing Earth-like exoplanets. Developing the technology to allow humans to travel to and live on faraway alien worlds is a challenge, to say the least. But is Hawking right that humanity has only 1,000 years to figure it out?
The dangers Hawking cited — from climate change, to nuclear weapons, to genetically engineered viruses — could indeed pose existential threats to our species, experts say, but predicting a millennium into the future is a murky business.More.
It sure is murky. Thought experiment: If we lived in 1016, what would we have predicted about the future? Interestingly, most people in western Europe thought the world was going to blazes back then but the causes cited were all different: Vikings, bandits, invading peoples, warlords in conflict… It would be hard for people back then to imagine a Europe where war is not a common state of affairs. Come to think of it, would a North American in 1016 would have expected New York or NASA?
The trouble with prophesying at that distance is that one cannot factor in future developments not yet imagined.
See also: Stephen Hawking disappointed by Brexit
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