Earth’s Fate –“May Be Determined This Century by One Species Alone – Ours” (WATCH Today’s ‘Galaxy’ Stream)




After 4.5 billion years of existence, Earth’s fate may be determined this century by one species alone – ours. The unintended consequences of powerful technologies like nuclear, biotech and artificial intelligence have created high cosmic stakes for our world.

“We need to deploy more expertise to address which long-term threats are credible versus which will stay science fiction – and to achieve a balance between precautionary policies and the benign exploitation of new technologies,” says cosmologist Martin Rees. “During this century our creative intelligence could trigger transitions from an Earth-based to a space-faring species and from biological to artificial intelligence – transitions that could inaugurate billions of years of post-human evolution even more marvelous than what has led to us.” Or, he points out, humans could trigger bio, cyber or environmental catastrophes instead.



Rees is a cosmologist and space scientist whose research interests include galaxy formation, active galactic nuclei, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, as well as speculative aspects of cosmology such as the multiverse. Based at the University of Cambridge, he has been director of the Institute of Astronomy, a research professor and master of Trinity College. He served as president of the Royal Society (the U.K.’s science academy) from 2005 to 2010, and in 2006 he was nominated to the House of Lords.

His awards and honors include the Gruber Prize in Cosmology, the Templeton Prize, and membership in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy and the Pontifical Academy. He has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control and international collaboration in science.

Among Rees’ books are “Our Final Hour: A Scientist's Warning: How Terror, Error, and Environmental Disaster Threaten Humankind’s Future in This Century – On Earth and Beyond,” “Before the Beginning – Our Universe and Others” and “Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe.”

After writing “Our Final Hour,” Rees became concerned, as he puts it, “with the threats stemming from humanity’s ever-heavier ‘footprint’ on the global environment and with the runaway consequences of ever more powerful technologies.” These concerns led him to co-found the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks at Cambridge.

The Daily Galaxy via Carl Sagan Institute

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