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Filmed on Monday January 14, 02019

Martin Rees

Prospects for Humanity

Astrophysicist Martin Rees is Astronomer Royal, and has been Master of Trinity College, Director of the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University and a former President of the Royal Society. His books include Our Cosmic Habitat, Just Six Numbers and On the Future Prospects for Humanity.

To think usefully about humanity’s future, you have to bear everything in mind simultaneously. Nobody has managed that better than Martin Rees in his succinct summing-up book: ON THE FUTURE: Prospects for Humanity.

As the recent President of the Royal Society (and longtime Royal Astronomer), Rees is current with all the relevant science and technology. At 76, he has seen a lot of theories about the future come and go. He has expert comfort in thinking at cosmic scale and teaching the excitement of that perspective. He has explored the darkest scenarios in a previous book, OUR FINAL HOUR: A Scientist’s Warning (2004), which examined potential extreme threats from nuclear weapons, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, climate change, and terrorism. Civilization’s greatest danger comes from civilization itself, which now operates at planetary scale. Consequently, he says, to head off the hazards and realize humanity’s potentially fabulous prospects, "We need to think globally, we need to think rationally, we need to think long-term.”

And we can.

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SALT Summaries Book

$2.99 Also available as a paperback book

Condensed ideas about long-term thinking summarized by Stewart Brand
(with Kevin Kelly, Alexander Rose and Paul Saffo) and a foreword by Brian Eno.

Seminar Sponsors

Will and Margaret Hearst • David and Abby Rumsey • Kim Polese • Shel Kaphan • Garrett Gruener • Scorpio Rising Fund • Peter Baumann • Brian Eno • Greg Stikeleather • Richard and Angie Thieriot • Nion McEvoy • Cameo Wood • Susie Tompkins Buell Fund • Panta Rhea Foundation • Ping Fu • Peter Schwartz • The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation • Dean Ornish • The Baum Foundation • Lawrence Wilkinson • Mercy Burton Russell • Asia Society Northern California • Stripe • Ken and Maddy Dychtwald • Future Ventures • The Long Now Membership

We would also like to recognize George Cowan (01920 - 02012) for being the first to sponsor this series.