Stephen Hawking Taught John Oliver To Fear Robots, And It Was Brilliant

Senior Contributor
06.16.14 4 Comments

Physicist, television presenter, best-selling author, rapper, and Simpsons guest star: Stephen Hawking has really done it all. And yet, amazingly, he still puts up with comedians asking him ridiculous questions. And thank God for it, since this interview with John Oliver is simultaneously completely hilarious and touchingly profound.

A chunk of it is what you’d expect, namely Hawking using his vast intellect as a hammer to destroy Oliver’s ego and self-confidence on every conceivable level. But a fair chunk of it is Hawking expounding on topics like imaginary time and our personal favorite subject, how robots will kill us all.

Hawking is always a great interview subject, not least because he can turn science into poetry, and his asking us to think of time not as flowing in one direction, but in all directions, is an unexpectedly touching moment in the middle of what’s largely a brutal takedown of Oliver’s pompous persona. Albeit it’s somewhat troubling that he doesn’t have a good answer for what might happen if a malevolent AI did take over his wheelchair and speech computer.

That said, come on, Steve, throw the guy a bone. There has to be one universe where he’d have a shot with Charlize Theron.

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