Royal astronomer Sir Martin Rees has warned that robots will wipe out humans and take over in just a few centuries.
He believes that ‘intelligent’ machine life will eventually replace humanity and even predicts that their reign could last billions of years beyond human life on Earth.
Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, along with other scientists have already signed an open letter warning that without safeguards on intelligent robots, mankind could be heading for a very dark future.
The Mail Online reports:
Life on Earth has already taken billions of years to evolve, from the proteins and nucleic acids that were the building blocks of life through to more complex mammals and homo sapiens.
But machine intelligence has developed at such an extreme pace, that Sir Martin believes the likelihood is alien life will also take this form.
He sees humanity’s time on the planet as an extremely brief transitional phase, between primordial organic life and the era of the machines – what he terms a ‘post-human’ future.
The cosmologist argues this could extend for billions of years into the future, particularly if machines are able to explore space free from the confines of needing a planet, it’s atmosphere and biosphere to sustain them.
And – if we do encounter beings from another planet – it will either take the form of more primitive lifeforms or extremely advanced machine intelligence.
Speaking to The Conversation, Sir Martin said: ‘My guess is that if we do detect an alien intelligence, it will be nothing like us. It will be some sort of electronic entity.
‘The period of time occupied by organic intelligence is just a thin sliver between early life and the long era of the machines.
‘Because such civilisations would develop at different rates, it’s extremely unlikely that we will find intelligent life at the same stage of development as us.
‘More likely, that life will still be either far simpler, or an already fully electronic intelligence.’
As to the impact of contact with aliens, Sir Martin believes that this is unlikely – at least in our current form.
The Cambridge professor emeritus believes that while we may be able to peer further out into space, travelling to distant worlds will remain out of our reach until we enter the post-human era.
In his interview with The Conversation, he added: ‘The journey times are just too great for mortal minds and bodies.
‘If you’re immortal, however, these distances become far less daunting.
‘That journey will be made by robots, not us.’