Progress Is a Double-Edge Sword. That's Why It's so Important We Colonize Mars

Stephen Hawking says so.


Stephen Hawking believes that despite all the progress humanity has made in advancing science and technology over the years, we are also creating a number of "new ways things can go wrong.” We are at risk of facing a disaster of our own making.

"Although the chance of a disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time, and becomes a near certainty in the next thousand or 10,000 years,” he told the BBC.

Hawking has made his concerns known about the advancements being made in artificial intelligence. He and many other persons of note called for the prevention of an autonomous robotic army in an open letter last year. But Hawking remains optimistic, so long as there are people out there able to recognize the dangers and stop them before they advance beyond our control.

“It's important to ensure that these changes are heading in the right directions,” he said to the BBC. “In a democratic society, this means that everyone needs to have a basic understanding of science to make informed decisions about the future.” 

Once we start establishing colonies on other worlds, he says, humanity will endure.

Stephen Petranek agrees. “The reason we need to travel to Mars and to establish a civilization on Mars is to protect the long-term survival of the human species,” said Petranek, a journalist and author of a new book titled How We'll Live on Mars.

***

Photo Credit: NASA / Handout / Getty

Natalie has been writing professionally for about 6 years. After graduating from Ithaca College with a degree in Feature Writing, she snagged a job at PCMag.com where she had the opportunity to review all the latest consumer gadgets. Since then she has become a writer for hire, freelancing for various websites. In her spare time, you may find her riding her motorcycle, reading YA novels, hiking, or playing video games. Follow her on Twitter: @nat_schumaker

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

This is the best (and simplest) world map of religions

Both panoramic and detailed, this infographic manages to show both the size and distribution of world religions.

(c) CLO / Carrie Osgood
Strange Maps
  • At a glance, this map shows both the size and distribution of world religions.
  • See how religions mix at both national and regional level.
  • There's one country in the Americas without a Christian majority – which?
Keep reading Show less

The world's watersheds, mapped in gorgeous detail

Hungarian cartographer travels the world while mapping its treasures.

Strange Maps
  • Simple idea, stunning result: the world's watersheds in glorious colors.
  • The maps are the work of Hungarian cartographer Robert Szucs.
  • His job: to travel and map the world, one good cause at a time.
Keep reading Show less
Image source: Topical Press Agency / Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Though we know today that his policies eventually ended the Great Depression, FDR's election was seen as disastrous by some.
  • A group of wealthy bankers decided to take things into their own hands; they plotted a coup against FDR, hoping to install a fascist dictator in its stead.
  • Ultimately, the coup was brought to light by General Smedley Butler and squashed before it could get off the ground.
Keep reading Show less