Hawking: Stop being so aggressive, humans, or we're finished

Technically Incorrect: Speaking at London's Science Museum, famed physicist Stephen Hawking insists that humans must change their ways and dedicate more to space travel if we want to survive.

Chris Matyszczyk
3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Stephen Hawking worries that our bellicose nature will be the end of us. Moviefone/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We all need a good thrashing. Morally, spiritually and metaphorically, I mean.

Too many of us think we can fight our way to what we want. We don't stop to think about the overall damage all this squabbling and clawing is doing to what's left of our freezing, boiling Earth.

Have I suddenly taken leave of my senses? Or, perhaps I've taken holy orders? No, I've merely been reading some of Stephen Hawking's rather wise comments at London's Science Museum.

While acting as a guide this week to a prize-winning American visitor -- 24-year-old teacher Adaeze Uyanwah from Palmdale, Calif. -- the famed physicist was asked which part of humanity he believes needs most work.

As the Daily Mail reported, he said: "The human failing I would most like to correct is aggression." There is rather a lot of it around. There always has been.

In many countries and businesses aggression is held up as the best (and even only) way of getting things done. Why merely lean in when you can lean over and just smack a rival in the mouth?

Hawking, though, mused: "It may have had survival advantage in caveman days, to get more food, territory or partner with whom to reproduce, but now it threatens to destroy us all."

One problem is that scientists became so clever that they invented weapons of massive destruction.

"A major nuclear war would be the end of civilization, and maybe the end of the human race," said Hawking.

A minor nuclear war wouldn't actually be fun either, especially as nuclear weapons are now beneath the red buttons of several heads of state whose mental equilibrium seems entirely questionable.

Hawking insisted that empathy is in desperately short supply. So much so that he suggested that saner, more intelligent humans might have to escape this planet altogether. Or all together.

"I believe that the long term future of the human race must be space and that it represents an important life insurance for our future survival, as it could prevent the disappearance of humanity by colonizing other planets," he said.

It's a charming thought that we could leave all the bellicose blockheads to kill each other on Earth while we create a zero-gravity love-in on a moon somewhere.

There's something essentially beautiful about being able to float around a galaxy and feel only floatingly pleasant thoughts about our fellow men, women and pets.

In recent times, Hawking seems to be worrying more and more about our future and what might be left of it.

He worries that aliens from outer space might come down here and hate us on sight. He worries that we're creating our own robotic and potentially murderous Frankensteins with our unconscious embrace of artificial intelligence. He's probably also worrying whether the movie based on his life, "The Theory Of Everything," is going to win an Oscar on Sunday.

Will we ever have the brains to stop fighting the often-pointless wars in which no one wins anything and casualties seem to have no end? Will we ever realize that a little empathy could save a lot of angst?

Perhaps when those of us who remain are safely floating above the mess we've left behind, someone will mutter: "Hawking said there'd be days like this."