What Will Change Everything?

The always interesting Edge, asks some smart folks:

“What game-changing scientific ideas and developments do you expect to live to see?”

And there are plenty of answers, from Alan Alda’s cry of despair:

We keep rounding an endless vicious circle. Will an idea or technology emerge anytime soon that will let us exit this lethal cyclotron before we meet our fate head on and scatter into a million pieces? Will we outsmart our own brilliance before this planet is painted over with yet another layer of people? Maybe, but I doubt it.

to Anton Zeilinger’s prediction of a catastrophic nuclear explosion set off outside earth’s atmosphere which, by its electromagnetic pulse, will make dysfunctional all semiconductors on earth. Whew!

Climate enters into several thoughts, such as William Calvin’s:

Climate will change our ways of doing science, making some areas more like medicine with its combination of science and interventional activism, where delay to resolve uncertainties is often not an option. Few scientists are trained to think this way — and certainly not climate scientists, who are having to improvise as the window of interventional opportunity shrinks.

and Stewart Brand’s

Climate change is a global problem that cannot be fixed with global economics, which we have; it requires global governance, which we don’t have. Whole new modes of international discourse, agreement, and enforcement must be devised. How are responsibilities to be shared for legions of climate refugees? Who decides which geoengineering projects can go forward? Who pays for them? Who adjudicates compensation for those harmed? How are free riders dealt with? Humans have managed commons before — fisheries, irrigation systems, fire regimes — but never on this scale. Global governance will change everything.

There may be some happy ideas too…

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