Martin Rees Quotes

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Given the scale of issues like global warming and epidemic disease, we shouldn't underestimate the importance of a can-do attitude to science rather than a can't-afford-it attitude.

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If we ever established contact with intelligent life on another world, there would be barriers to communication. First, they would be many light years away, so signals would take many years to reach them: there would be no scope for quick repartee. There might be an IQ gap.

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Some claim that computers will, by 2050, achieve human capabilities. Of course, in some respects they already have.

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Some things, like the orbits of the planets, can be calculated far into the future. But that's atypical. In most contexts, there is a limit. Even the most fine-grained computation can only forecast British weather a few days ahead. There are limits to what can ever be learned about the future, however powerful computers become.

Tags: | Martin Rees,Future,Weather,Powerful,

In our interconnected world, novel technology could empower just one fanatic, or some weirdo with a mindset of those who now design computer viruses, to trigger some kind of disaster. Indeed, catastrophe could arise simply from technical misadventure - error rather than terror.

Tags: | Martin Rees,Technology,World,Mindset,

And we should keep our minds open, or at least ajar, to concepts on the fringe of science fiction. Flaky American futurologists aren't always wrong. They remind us that a superintelligent machine is the last instrument that humans may ever design - the machine will itself take over in making further steps.

Tags: | Martin Rees,Science,American,Minds,

Space doesn't offer an escape from Earth's problems. And even with nuclear fuel, the transit time to nearby stars exceeds a human lifetime. Interstellar travel is therefore, in my view, an enterprise for post-humans, evolved from our species not via natural selection, but by design.

Tags: | Martin Rees,Time,Travel,Stars,

Crucial to science education is hands-on involvement: showing, not just telling: real experiments and field trips and not just 'virtual reality.'

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Advances in technology - hugely beneficial though they are - render us vulnerable in new ways. For instance, our interconnected world depends on elaborate networks: electric power grids, air traffic control, international finance, just-in-time delivery, and so forth.

Tags: | Martin Rees,Technology,Power,World,

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