The World in 2050 and Beyond with Lord Rees (UK’s Astronomer Royal)
The 2021 Victor Suchar Christmas Lecture
Our Earth has existed for 45 million centuries, but this is the first time that just one species – ours – has the planet’s future in its hands. And Covid 19 is a wake-up call, reminding us how vulnerable our interconnected global civilisation is. Advances in biotechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence–if pursued and applied wisely–could empower us to boost the developing and developed world and overcome the threats humanity faces. But we must avoid dystopian risks. These are of two kinds. First, those stemming from our ever-heavier collective ‘footprint’ on the Earth – global warming and biodiversity loss. Second, those triggered by technologies so powerful that even small groups, by error or design, can create a catastrophe that cascades globally. At the same time, further advances in space science will allow humans to explore the solar system and beyond with robots and AI. But there is no “Planet B” if we do not care for our home planet.
Speaker: Lord Martin Rees OM FRS
Martin Rees is the Astronomer Royal; he is Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He is a member of the Order of Merit, has served as President of the Royal Society, and is a former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. His research has involved many aspects of theoretical astronomy and cosmology, but he is perhaps best known for his work on black holes and the early evolution of the Universe. Lord Rees has been honoured with many international awards and prizes, among which are the Balzan Medal and the Crafoord Prize. He is co-founder of the Centre for Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge