Artificial intelligence could end mankind: Hawking

Professor Stephen Hawking attends the gala screening of 'Hawking' on the opening night of the Cambridge Film Festival held at Emmanuel College on September 19, 2013 in Cambridge, Cambridgeshire.
Karwai Tang | Getty Images

Stephen Hawking and a group of top physicists are sounding the alarm on artificial intelligence, writing in The Independent that success in creating AI could be "the biggest event in human history," but also "the last."

The scientists authored the opinion column against the backdrop of the new AI movie Transcendence, which stars Johnny Depp.

"It's tempting to dismiss the notion of highly intelligent machines as mere science fiction. But this would be a mistake, and potentially our worst mistake in history," they wrote.

The physicists cite Google's recent self-driving car announcement, digital personal assistants like Apple's Siri and her new competitors, and more sinister uses of AI like autonomous weapons that can choose their own targets.