The rise of Donald Trump and Britain’s Brexit vote come at “the most dangerous time in the history of the human race,” renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking has warned.
Writing in an op-ed for the Guardian newspaper, the Cambridge professor said the political shift shows the majority of people are sick of the status quo and felt they had been “abandoned by their leaders.”
“It was, everyone seems to agree, the moment when the forgotten spoke, finding their voices to reject the advice and guidance of experts and the elite everywhere.
“For me, the really concerning aspect of this is that now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together,” he added.
Hawking says the world is facing crippling challenges, including climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease and acidification of the oceans.
“Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity.
“We can do this [overcome the challenges], I am an enormous optimist for my species; but it will require the elites, from London to Harvard, from Cambridge to Hollywood, to learn the lessons of the past year. To learn above all a measure of humanity.”
He added: “We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.
“Perhaps in a few hundred years, we will have established human colonies amid the stars, but right now we only have one planet, and we need to work together to protect it.”
Hawking also warned that artificial intelligence and increasing automation is going to decimate middle class jobs and worsen inequality, and risks creating significant political upheaval.
“The automation of factories has already decimated jobs in traditional manufacturing, and the rise of artificial intelligence is likely to extend this job destruction deep into the middle classes, with only the most caring, creative or supervisory roles remaining.
“With not only jobs but entire industries disappearing, we must help people to retrain for a new world and support them financially while they do so,” he added.
It is not the first time Hawking has shared his opinions about Trump. In an interview with ITV earlier in the year, Hawking referred to the president-elect as “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”