2021’s Victor Suchar Christmas Lecture at Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution took place on Thursday 16th December with the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, using his considerable knowledge and experience to gaze into the future and discuss how the world might be in 2050. This is a recording of the live event. Lord Rees explored a number of transformational advances in the fields of biotechnology, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI) – with reference to how they might empower humanity on earth and beyond, in the solar system and far out amongst the stars. Unfortunately, as we know, such great power comes with risk, so the widespread anxiety that, by error or design, human technological advancement could instead lead to catastrophe on a global scale, was also touched on. In addition to his role as Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees is Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at Cambridge University. He has also served as President of the Royal Society, Master of Trinity College Cambridge, and is a recipient of the Order of Merit. He is the author of over 500 research papers, including a significant body of work on the subjects of cosmic microwave background radiation and quasars, which helped to corroborate the big bang theory during the 1960s. In more recent years, Lord Rees has spoken extensively on the intersection between science, politics, and ethics – particularly the challenges and opportunities posed by technology in the 21st century. His book – ‘On the Future’ – recently released, updated, as a paperback, explores how we might harness these technologies in the face of existential risk.
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