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The late physicist predicted that genetic engineering will ultimately render half of the world’s population obsolete.
Hawking, who died back in March, left a collection of papers and articles which included some of his notes on the existential dangers our species may face in the coming decades.
Of particular interest were his thoughts on a future in which wealthy individuals might choose to have themselves and their children genetically enhanced, thus leading to a race of ‘improved’ superhumans.
“Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans,” hawking wrote. “But some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life.”
Once this begins to happen, genetically enhanced individuals could end up outclassing their ‘unimproved’ counterparts, creating a two-tier society that could prove disastrous for many.
“Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete,” wrote Hawking. “Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate.”
His thoughts echo those of others who believe that the future of our species lies, not in natural evolution, but in genetic modification and technological augmentation.
Some have even argued that such a transformation may have already begun.
Source: The Guardian