Stephen Hawking today warned that computers will overtake humans in terms of intelligence at some point within the next century. 

Speaking at the Zeitgeist 2015 conference in London, the internationally renowned cosmologist and Cambridge University professor, said: “Computers will overtake humans with AI at some within the next 100 years. When that happens, we need to make sure the computers have goals aligned with ours.”

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Hawking, who signed an open letter alongside Elon Musk earlier this year warning AI development should not go on uncontrolled, added: “Our future is a race between the growing power of technology and the wisdom with which we use it.” 

Professor Nick Bostrom, an AI expert and the director of Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute, believes that machines will become superintelligent shortly after they reach human intelligence levels. 

In the short term, people are concerned about who controls AI, but in the long term, the concern will be whether AI can be controlled at all, said Hawking. 

AI can be defined as the intelligence exhibited by machines or software. It has the potential to have a profound impact on the world as people know and it’s an area being pursued by global tech giants such as Google and Facebook. 

AI technology is already built into devices we use in our every day lives. For example, Siri, an intelligent personal assistant that sits inside iPhones and iPads is underpinned by AI developed by Apple, while Google's self-driving vehicles also rely heavily on AI. According to the FT, more than 150 startups in Silicon Valley are working on AI today.

Hawking believes that scientists and technologists need to safely and carefully coordinate and communicate advancements in AI to ensure it does not grow beyond humanity's control.

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