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A Conference organized by



ISC-PIF, Paris, 28-29 September 2007





With the advent of the atomic bomb humankind became potentially the maker of its own demise. In a recent stunning book, England's Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, who occupies Newton's chair at Cambridge University, forecasts that the odds are no better than fifty-fifty that humankind will survive to the end of the twenty-first century. The title of the book is explicit, and the subtitle even more: Our Final Hour. A Scientist's Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind's Future in this Century – on Earth and Beyond . Sir Martin warns us: "Our increasingly interconnected world is vulnerable to new risks, 'bio' or 'cyber', terror or error. The dangers from twenty-first century technology could be graver and more intractable than the threat of nuclear devastation that we faced for decades. And human-induced pressures on the global environment may engender higher risks than the age-old hazards of earthquakes, eruptions and asteroid impacts." Sir Martin is by no means isolated in his warning. Already in 2000, Bill Joy, one of the most brilliant American computer scientists, wrote a celebrated and much commented upon paper titled "Why the future doesn't need us. Our most powerful 21st-century technologies – robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotech – are threatening to make humans an endangered species." (full text)

The conference will start with the exploration of 4 case studies that best illustrate the challenges that complexity poses to politics.

  • climate Climate change, the insufficiencies of the Precautionary principle, and the need for an international coordination
  • technologies The promises and threats of the rapid development of advanced technologies and their convergence (nano, bio, info, cogno)
  • violence The new forms of geopolitical violence, terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction
  • financial capitalism The resilience and fragility of the new forms of industrial and financial capitalism, and the new forms of inequality, poverty, and injustice they bring about

Those explorations will take the form of 4 round tables combining experts of each domain and theoreticians of complex systems.

More pratical informations about this event




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Page last modified on Sunday 23 September, 2007 17:53:55 CEST by nicky.

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