Stephen Hawking has called for a new diaspora, telling a Hong Kong press conference that humanity must leave Earth and colonise the rest of the solar system if it is to avoid extinction.Hawking has a well-deserved reputation as a big thinker, but his plan here is decidedly low-rent compared with the similarly-motivated "Golden Path" described by science fiction author Frank Herbert (ascribed to his fictional Emperor Leto II) in his Children of Dune and God Emperor of Dune novels thirty years ago. There, the God Emperor engineered the entirety of human civilization to cause a great scattering of the human race beyond the boundaries of the known universe. In all fairness, however, the God Emperor was both prescient and more than 3,500 years old, so perhaps I'm expecting too much of the merely-mortal 64-years-old Hawking.
The respected physicist warned of the increasing risk that some kind of natural or man made disaster - such as global warming, or a nuclear war - could destroy the Earth: "It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," he said.
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He believes we could have a colony on the moon within 20 years, and an established base on Mars within 40, according to reports, but says that unless we travel to another star system, we "won't find anywhere as nice as Earth".
Go west up, young man!