Warning that the development of robots could result in a “new form” of life that outperforms humans, Stephen Hawking expressed grave concerns about the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), in an interview this week.

“I fear that AI may replace humans altogether,” said the physicist to Wired magazine.

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He likened the potential for harmful developments in robotics to humans’ ability to create computer viruses that spread across systems. “Someone will design AI that improves and replicates itself,” he predicted. “This will be a new form of life that outperforms humans.”

“I believe we have reached the point of no return. Our earth is becoming too small for us, global population is increasing at an alarming rate and we are in danger of self-destructing.”—Stephen Hawking

Hawking’s warning comes days after a female robot was granted citizenship by Saudi Arabia’s government. Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, also warned this week that China could rapidly expand its AI development in the coming decade, citing a policy document outlining the country’s goal to become the global leader in the field by 2030.