Stephen Hawking: I fear I may not be welcome in Donald Trump's US

Stephen Hawking, the leading British physicist and cosmologist, has said he no longer feels welcome in the US under Donald Trump.

Prof Hawking is a recipient of the prestigious US Franklin medal for science and received the presidential medal of freedom from Barack Obama in 2009. Now he has spoken out about his fears for the country’s “definite swing to a rightwing, more authoritarian approach”.

“I would like to visit again and to talk to other scientists, but I fear that I may not be welcome,” he said in an interview with Good Morning Britain on Monday.

The 75-year-old Cambridge scientist said he was particularly concerned about Trump’s environment policy.

“He should replace Scott Pruitt at the Environment Protection Agency,” he said. “Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent. It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for his second term. God forbid.”

“Trump was elected by people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalisation,” he told ITV1’s breakfast programme. “His priority will be to satisfy his electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well informed.”

Hawking said, however, that he saw signs of hope for the world in the rise of women to powerful positions in public life, and he revealed his excitement at the possibility of sending tiny robots into space to investigate earth-like planets trillions of miles away.

Asked about the ascent of Theresa May, Nicola Sturgeon and Cressida Dick, the new Met police commissioner, he said: “If we factor in high-powered women in Europe as well, such as Angela Merkel, it seems we are witnessing a seismic shift for women to accede to high-level positions in politics and society.

“But there may still be a gap between those women achieving high public status and those in the private sector. I welcome these signs of women’s liberation.”

When asked whether he thought the Nasa space programme should be restarted following the discovery of new planets, Hawking said: “The recently discovered system of seven Earth-sized planets is 39 light years away. With current technology there is no way we can travel that far.

“The best we can envisage is robotic nanocraft pushed by giant lasers to 20% of the speed of light. These nanocraft weigh a few grams and would take about 240 years to reach their destination and send pictures back. It is feasible and is something that I am very excited about.”

On British politics, Hawking said he felt a “hard Brexit” should be resisted, with the UK retaining strong links with the EU and China. He also said that Labour, which he backed at the 2015 general election, would not win the next election under Jeremy Corbyn.

“He doesn’t come across as a strong leader, and he allowed the media to portray him as a leftwing extremist, which he’s not,” he said. “It’s no good having the right principles if you never get in power.”

© Photograph: Karwai Tang/Getty Images Prof Stephen Hawking: Trump’s supporters ‘are neither liberal nor that well informed’.


Donald Trump’s Anti-Science Agenda Leaves Stephen Hawking Feeling Unwelcome In U.S.

WASHINGTON — Famed British physicist Stephen Hawking says President Donald Trump’s attacks on the scientific community leave him unsure if he’s still welcome in the United States.

“I have many friends and colleagues there, and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways. But I fear that I may not be welcome,” Hawking said in a Monday interview with Piers Morgan on “Good Morning Britain.”

Hawking, who previously characterized Trump as a “demagogue,” told Morgan the president was “elected by people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalization.” Trump’s priority, Hawking added, “will be to satisfy this electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed.”

Hawking said this is already playing out in Trump’s promise to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico boarder, his signing of executive orders to push forward the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, and his appointment of climate-change denier Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

Much like Trump, who has dismissed climate change as “bullshit” and a Chinese “hoax,” Pruitt scoffs at mainstream climate science. Pruitt this month said he does not believe carbon emissions are the primary cause of global warming.

Trump’s election, Hawking said, “represents a definite swing to a right-wing, more authoritarian approach.”

“There was reported to be a memo that government scientists must get White House approval for any announcements,” Hawking said. “A similar ruling in Canada had a chilling effect on science there.”

Asked what message he would like to relay to Trump, Hawking said the president should replace Pruitt at the helm of EPA.

“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent,” Hawking said. “It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for his second term — God forbid.”

This is not the first time Hawking has spoken against Trump. In May, he called Trump “a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.” And in September, Hawking was among hundreds of leading scientists who warned in an open letter that a Trump presidency would prove disastrous to global efforts against climate change.

In his interview with Morgan (see below), Hawking also addressed gender equality, Trump’s controversial travel ban and Brexit.


Stephen Hawking: ‘I fear that I may not be welcome’ in Trump’s America

Stephen Hawking says he no longer feels welcome in the United States, now that President Trump is in power.

The renowned scientist and theoretical physicist spoke Monday on ITV’s “Good Morning Britain” about his views on artificial intelligence, climate change and Trump — whom he once called a demagogue.

“The reaction to the election of Donald Trump may have been overdone, but it represents a definite swing to a right-wing, more authoritarian approach,” Hawking said about the negative response to Trump's election.

Of the United States, he said: “I have many friends and colleagues there, and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways. But I fear that I may not be welcome.”

Leading up to the U.S. presidential election, Hawking was cheekily asked on “Good Morning Britain” whether he could explain Trump's rise to presidential candidacy.

“I can't,” Hawking said last May. “He’s a demagogue who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”

Asked now about that statement, Hawking elaborated on Trump's victory and his first two months in office.

“Trump was elected by people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalization,” Hawking said Monday. “His priority will be to satisfy his electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed. We have already seen this in the promise to build a wall along the Mexican border and the sanctioning of two oil pipelines and the appointment to the Environmental Protection Agency of Scott Pruitt, a man who does not believe carbon dioxide causes climate change.”

Indeed, Hawking was especially critical of Pruitt's appointment.

When the British journalist Piers Morgan then asked what he most wanted to say to Trump, Hawking said he would tell the president that Pruitt should be replaced as the EPA chief, adding that “climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it's one we can prevent.”

Hawking also expressed concerns about Trump's travel ban, calling it “inefficient” and explaining how it should be done.

“His travel ban brands as Islamic State terrorists all citizens of six mainly Muslim countries, but not including America's allies such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which allegedly help finance Islamic State,” he said. “This blanket ban is inefficient and prevents America recruiting skilled people from these countries. To be effective, it should be replaced by a more selective, intelligence-based approach.

“But again, I fear this may not happen, as Trump continues to appease his electorate.”

During the 11-minute interview, Hawking was asked for his opinion on a wide range of topics, including the true meaning of life, gender equality and artificial intelligence, a topic about which he has expressed grave concerns.

“Ever since the start of the industrial revolution, there have been fears of mass unemployment, as machines replaced humans,” he said Monday. “Instead, a demand for goods and services has risen in line with the increased capabilities. Whether this can continue indefinitely is an open question, but there is a greater danger from artificial intelligence if we allow it to become self-designing, for then it can improve itself rapidly, and we may lose control.”

Hawking called himself a feminist, saying: “I have always supported women's rights.”

Morgan brought up Britain's most powerful people — many of whom are women, including Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Theresa May, politicians Nicola Sturgeon and Amber Rudd, and Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Morgan asked Hawking whether this was scientific evidence of gender equality.

“It is not scientific proof of gender equality that is required, but general acceptance that women are at least the equals of men or better. This is coming,” Hawking replied. “If we factor in high-powered women in Europe as well, such as Angela Merkel, it seems we are witnessing a seismic shift for women to accede to high-level positions in politics and society. But there may still be a gap between those women achieving high public status and those in the private sector. I welcome these signs of women’s liberation.”

And he talked about his ambitions, saying he would be thrilled to one day travel in space.

“I have already completed a zero-gravity flight, which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space,” Hawking said. “I thought no one would take me, but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic, and I said yes immediately. Since that day, I have never changed my mind.”

But when asked perhaps the most obvious question — whether Hawking agrees with many others that he may indeed be the most intelligent person alive — he said, “I would never claim this.”

“People who boast about their IQ are losers,” he added.

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