Dr Stephen Hawking's death was a gigantic loss to humanity and to science. The renowned physicist's profound insights into black holes, the Big Bang and the formation of the universe have been critical to our understanding of the world, and the book that he authored, A Brief History of Time, is still one of the best-selling popular science books available. However, before he died, Dr Hawking made a number of worrying predictions about humanity's future, and how technology, if left unchecked, could spell doom for our own species.
In a collection of essays which have recently been made public in the British newspaper The Sunday Times, Dr Hawking predicted that the wealthy elite could potentially harness genetic engineering to new species of superhuman beings, which would oppress and eventually destroy the remainder of humanity.
Dr Hawking wrote: "I am sure that during this century people will discover how to modify both intelligence and instincts such as aggression. Laws will probably be passed against genetic engineering with humans. But some people won’t be able to resist the temptation to improve human characteristics, such as memory, resistance to disease and length of life. Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete, Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate."
Other scientists have concurred with this theory, including University College London professor Chris Rapley. Commenting on Dr Hawking's predictions, Rapley wrote: "Humans have arguably reached a critical moment. We have moved beyond affecting the planet at the landscape scale to interfering with its very metabolism at the global scale. All the indications are that the limitations of our brains, both individually and collectively, leave us incapable of addressing the challenge. On this basis, the future looks desperately gloomy."
Dr Hawking was also concerned about rates of obesity and heart disease in the mostly-sedentary first world, writing: "At the moment humanity faces a major challenge and millions of lives are in danger. I see the world as a whole and I am here to address one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Today too many people die from complications related to weight and obesity. We eat too much and move too little. Fortunately, the solution is simple: More physical activity and change in diet. is not rocket science and for what its worth, how being sedentary has become a major health problem is beyond my understanding."
So there you have it: if you want to save humanity and take Dr Hawking's advice, then get rid of all the junk food in your fridge and get yourself a gym membership. Seriously: according to him the survival of our very species may well depend upon you hitting the Stairmaster.