Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking's latest prediction involves neither colonizing aliens nor malicious artificial intelligence – just plain old human greed. The scientist was commenting on so-called technological unemployment, a trend of automation taking over the jobs that previously required humans. According to some estimates, in a matter of decades robots may become better and cheaper than humans in most tasks and make most of the human workforce unemployable.
Hawking believes that in such a scenario we should expect not prosperity but drastic economic inequality in the future.
“If machines produce everything we need, the outcome will depend on how things are distributed,” he said in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared, or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine-owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution. So far, the trend seems to be toward the second option, with technology driving ever-increasing inequality.”