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tv   Predictions for the 22nd Century  CSPAN  August 31, 2017 5:01pm-6:31pm EDT

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the national book festival live saturday starting at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span2's booktv. >> next, scientists predict some of the technological and a bimetal changes that may occur over the next century such as artificial intelligence, brain augmentation, climate change, the future spaceflight at the potential for extraterrestrial life. university of colorado posted this event. >> hello. all right, so the first thing i've only done this to my son, i mess it up. you cast or not the queen of technology. you guys have cell phone, turn it off. no cell phones ring, no lights flashing. here we go. phones off. you know how i am about phones. all right. he we go.
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so the topic today is my in the 22nd century, and you know i'm an engineer. there's a phone on back to turn off the light or a computer or something. thank you. when people talk about the future of the 22nd century on sort of like i go into a engineer mode and go well, what are you going to back cosmic rays when you fly to outer space and what he going to do about the time problem? i'm kind of a wet blanket. but these three panelists are very well-qualified with actual facts to talk about the 22nd century and what we might anticipate. so our three speakers, going to induce an indie order adequately speak and the new get ten to 15 minutes and if they talk too long, i cut them off. so our first speaker is david grinspoon who's in astrobiologist which is super cool.
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it's like you do, biology space. very weird. so that's what he does. our second speaker, michelle thaller is director of science for communications at nasa so she'd is all about the rocket science program. and our third speaker is seth shostak who works -- looking for extraterrestrial life. so there we talk but what we can expect we're going to start with david, all right. >> good morning. thank you for coming here and having us here in boulder. i disabled or height is a mythical place for me. it's a first time think of i been to but but i lived in bour for number of years, and i had a lot of friends whose kids went to boulder high and as a result knife a lot of friend who are graduates of the boulder high. yeah, so now i get to be here on stage. and also i'm just realizing i think the last time i was maybe
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on stage of high school auditorium was when i was in high school in our talent show my band was playing like free bird or something. if i have a flashback and get up and do an air guitar solo, you have to forgive me. i of course want to start out with a requisite, obvious but necessary point that nobody can predict the future. and ther that are not experts oe future. none of us can really tell you what's going to happen in the 22nd century. but it's also true that all of us are people who in our careers think a lot about the future in various ways, and we can give you some insight into how to think about the future, hopefully. and when i was your age, when i was in junior high and high school i was really obsessed
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with certain kinds of visions of the future. i was definitely a teenage sci-fi geek. and this was by the way it was cool before deep. it was uncool but i still was. and i was really enthralled by, one of my earliest memories was the apollo landing on the moon when i was in the fourth grade, then i grew up just obsessed with space and the future. the movie 2001 a space odyssey which came out in 1969, 1968? make it 68, was very influential and i just assumed that by the 21st century humans would be living in space and that was connected with this idea of sort of utopian view of what would happen with our societies that the cold war would wind down and we would basically have a peaceful and equitable society on earth.
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you know, it hasn't completely worked out that way, and so reflecting on that now when i was your age, my visions of the future the way things have worked out so far. one thing i think human beings can't help but doing is projecting into the future in a sort of linear way. i think it's built into us cognitively that we see current trends and we assume the continuation of those trends, and that's what forms are via the future. that sort of makes sense on the short timescale, but on the lawn timescale is never the guide because there are these nonlinear game changers that ultimately determine the way things are. so in the science-fiction of the 1940s and 1950s and early 60s, which some people call the golden age of science fiction which were the stories i
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grew up reading, a lot of times just to give one example, they were written before apollo. and so a lot of those stories had people finally getting to the moon in the year 2010, are finally getting to the moon in 1999. so because people were not actively engaged in that effort, people saw that, thought it would be a long way off. and then of course 1960s, apollo program, john f. kennedy, we choose to go to the moon, inspirational speech at the beginning of the decade. and this massive effort and, of course, we did it. and then you look at the science-fiction written during and around the time of the apollo project, and h it was the opposite. they projected that things would happen very fast because things are happening very fast in that they could so then you have 2001 invited will be out of jupiter and be doing, they were over
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overoptimistic if you consider technological advance goods. because they were extrapolating from the rapid, the rapid acceleration that was going in there, external think that in the future so the overshot the other way. you see this and a lot of other areas that we cannot help but extrapolate our current trends. and that's one of the reasons why we are always wrong when we predict the future. i was recently, i got to spend a year at the library of congress working on a project out a book project about the future, considering our time on earth, the human time and geological history and how humans are changing the planet and how that fits into the long-term story of the planet. part of what i did for the project on trying to get a handle on how we think about the future was i read a lot of predictions about now that were
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written in the past to collect predictions of the future that were written a long time ago. there's a section in my book that's called a brief history of the future where i summarize this. it's interesting because you read essays by these really smart people that were written 100 years ago, 200 years ago about what they think the early 21st century is going to be like. it's an interesting combination of some really pressing and really smart how the hell did they know that? people predicted that we would run out of fossil fuels and that we would be running things by solar power, and people kind predicted the internet. really smart. and then combined with some just like really wacky, ridiculous stuff. we be talking to the spirits of the dead and it's always some combination of that. but what they miss is the game
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changers, you know, the things that really changed our world, the internet which nobody really predicted. communication satellites which clark did predict but was so sure it wouldn't happen in his lifetime. he didn't bother to patent them, and, of course, they happened way before the end of his life. and so forth. we just, we see things in a nonlinear way, and histories very. history is very nonlinear the big anxieties about the future when i was a teenager were, well, the cold war of course seemed like it would never end because just this intractable thing, and nuclear war between the superpowers was the big anxiety. that was how the world, might possibly end. and then when the cold war ended
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it was just this very kind of surprising thing. and then, but then same, people extrapolated, while knocking everything will be fine, they will be no more war. we overshot any other direction and have the cold war is over but we still haven't gotten rid of those darn nukes and are are still some existential worry there. another, just to give you another example, when i was in college, one of our big issues, i was an activist and help form a group, i went to brown university and help form a group called the brown disarmament group. the other guy who formed that group with me was david corn for you now see on msnbc a lot. he was my classmate in college and we formed this group and so we were worried about nuclear war but wer also active in the anti-apartheid movement, south africa was under a system of apartheid in. i'm sure you know that. that also seem like something
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that would never ever end and it was intractable and nelson mandela would die in jail and it was tragic and sad. and then that also rather suddenly ended. and again south africa has to publish up what they're not living under apartheid and nelson mandela died a free man and president of this country. so all i'm saying is things that seem attractive can change is really sideways. well, now we're at this time,, this strange time in human history where there are these seemingly contradictory trends and reason for optimism and pessimism. if you look at many long-term trends, this is the best time ever to be a human being at a random place on earth do we live in this type of very scary headlines and a lot of anxiety, justifiable anxiety about the future but we also live at this
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tremendous time of human opportunity and possibility. what i mean by those trends, things like infant mortality is half what it was 30 years ago on earth, the average infant mortality. if you are a random person born into vande place on today your chances of living to be, a healthy life and living to adulthood are twice what they were 30 years ago. that trend is increasing. same thing with extreme poverty. it is a drastically decreasing around the world. and all kinds of health trends, the long-term trends are very good and very promising. of course all these things are related when extreme poverty is alleviated. it helps with, that's the silver bullet for population because fertility goes down when, in particular when women have more
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choices than poor countries, and educator education levels are on the rise globally in a pretty steady way over the decades. a lot of these positive trends but at the same time we are in this phase that some geologists and planetary scientists are calling the intro the scene where human influence on the planet is exploding and there's a time. recall the great acceleration that started in the 1950s where all these measures of human activity have been shooting of the charge. if you look, if you plot all these measures of human influence on the planet, amount of co2 in the atmosphere, the damning of rivers over time, the various changes in land use, extinction rates, all the sorts of quantitative measures of documents are changing the planet, during the 20 century they sort of slowly go up and it wiggles and then in 1950, in the 1950s the all-star shooting up your still in the face of the
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cover for our influence has been shooting at. it's a scary way that is unsustainable. you have the circulation of these two kinds of trance. there's a long-term all these are legitimate positive trends recent trial and then there's this shorter-term just really jarring influence on the planet which, that humans have been causing the most of the one we are most aware of his climate change of course. i think that something will talk about a little bit this morning, but it's part of this whole set of changes. and so that's unnerving but at the same time we had this explosion in knowledge about the planet. around the same time, the beginning of the space age i can succeed we started launching observation satellites. before that we were blind to the way our planned works. we have this explosion and knowledge of where our planet works and i believe we are in
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the midst of a kind of phase change of consciousness about our role on the planet. and to me that's the key to connecting these two curves. there's the positive curves of all these indicators i was talking about. there's a scary acceleration of human influence, socially optimistic or pessimistic recs it's really a question of whether that awareness of ourselves as a planetary entity can propagate to the point when it becomes integrated into the way we manage ourselves from the planet. and i think that you guys are really the second generation in essence, generations is squishy but the second generation to grow up and live your life in an awareness of human beings as a global entity. it started in the way with the whole earth pictures from space, that the space program provide us with. i think that's new and i think it's global and it's hard to
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receive its frustratingly slow, but that's the key i think is to propagate a sense of ourselves as a global entity. and i think it is happening. i did myself 5 50 minute andersn i have one minute and half laps, selassie i will say is that nobody can predict the future but now i'm going to. i think in the 22nd century we will become distant we will be completed all fossil fuels. we have to be. even if we are as dumb as duncan b and would literally burn up every single freaking molecule of reduce carbon, dig them all up and burned them, we will be off fossil fuels in the 22nd century. buhopefully we won't do it that way. and human populations clery going to stabilize and start to come down by the end of this century, for the right reasons. not because of starvation and famine but because education levels are on the rise and women are getting more choices in the fertility, their choosing, toys,
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choosing to lower fertility rates. so i think what would you get to a 22nd century where we have a more stable population and with global energy systems which are not ranking than natural systems upon which we depend. i'm optimistic about that. the problem is how do we get there? we need to go through a transformation in a relationship with the natural world and propagate this realization that we do live in a finite planet, and integrate that into how we achieve energy and i would run a global civilization. there are technical solutions to do this, and so there may be technical, there will be technical breakthroughs that help us do this, energy breakthroughs, there's other game changes like artificial intelligence. we might even discover extraterrestrial life. i think we'll hear about that possibility, there are things go nonlinear game changes we can't predict, but even without relying on those, if we go through, continue what i believe
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the start the social transformation of proceeding ourselves accurately as a species, a global species on a finite planet, and integrate that into the way we run our systems call our energy into other systems that will make that transformation. we're in the process. it's just how quickly we make that transformation will determine how much pain and displacement and suffering that there is in the 21st century. lastly i will succumb if we do this or i think the 21st century will be as bad as the 20th century. when i say that people say what are you talking about? 20 century was great but it really wasn't. it wasn't for the hundreds of millions of people died in wars and famines and so forth. to me that's scale of tragedy wherwe're facing in the 21st century if we don't make this transformation in our energy systems quickly. but i'm optimistic that we are going to accelerate that change and avert, avoid the worst case
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scenarios. [applause] >> thank you. wonderful to be here. i think you're going to hear sort of this thing from all of us today that there are things were very optimistic about, things were concerned about, and with the humility of knowing that we cannot predict what would happen in 100 years. i think some some stuff uncle to talk about is more near-term than that. things make you like to see happening is the next 50 years, the things would be continuing into the 22nd century as well. i was, these are two of my favorite people in the world on either side of it. these are both by the scientistt and wonderful human beings and i was thinking the things that i think about, it's true. and i think that want to talk about, thinking the things that concern me and encourage me are the search for extraterrestrial life that would be this guy, climate change which is an expert in that. so i've wondered how will i
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position myself? i think i'll talk to both of those but i wanted to do some of the social changes i wanted to come in the next 100 years and i think all of us need to actively work to do that. not just wait for them to happen. starting with some of the optimism, i worked for nasa, i'm an astrophysicist but i do a lot of work with planetary scientist can with astrobiologists. we are going to have a press release tomorrow, after nasa tomorrow about an environment without on in minnesota which i'm quite optimistic could support life. i think there are probably four places in the solar system that nasa is hoping to explore that we very strongly suspect life could exist now. and this is something that, sethi -- seth luster to the buckham while there's a lot of them tend with cert for extras like that nasa does, nasa's mainly looking for smaller microbial life.
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etc were looking for hans gumpert i pretty say that. you can look for civilization we look for positive. but i will take alien pods come. i totally will. i think, this is all a bit of an audacious prediction but a lot of this depends of course on whether we get funding for our missions and whether with political support for what we want to do but i am really serious helping to have solid proof of extraterrestrial life in the next ten years. by the time you guys get to graduate school, those of you going into college or chemistry physics, i want there to be a sample. it will probably be remotely detected but we'll send a rover to mars or a probe to the moon europa arent you put and will have evidence that something is a live down there. i think once we have that there would be a great impetus to go and study. we, it will be wonderful to go to the national zoo in washington, d.c., and see in a very, very well isolated padded chamber a little come under
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microscope and actual alien. something that came from ours or came from saturn or jupiter, moons of those planets. i really think that's true. then we have so many wonderful questions to ask. do they have dna? today have the same sort of chemistry we do? could you even eat it with a chemistry pass right through you? for those you know chemistry, either amino acids the same way, put together the same way as ours? there such a wonderful diversity available in the universe. a typical carbon rich meteorite, which studies at nasa all the time, has more different kinds of organic molecules and even nuclear bases and things that make up your dna, then the tide of life on earth uses. so there's a tremendous revolution, i think in how we understand biology. astrobiologists are poised to lead that. so i am really looking for to that. i got some champagne chilling already. i really want that to happen in
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the next couple of years and decades. the other part of nasa better work with a lot of his earth science department. this is one of these things where there's always cautious optimism and is always cause for concern. right now depend on how you define it, some of our missions are several satellites flying information. depending on how you fight with about 30 spacecraft that is above you right now run by nasa. they are studying every aspect of the earth system. we run about 108 spacecraft that are studying the solar system, the universal all that the specifically earth science come about 30. we are returning data that is absolutely overwhelming that the earth is changing fast. and in the next 100 years, this is something that will change your life i think in a way that perhaps you buy things come in the way the economy works. it may change things in way more deserving eventually.
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but specifically our polar studies. a lot of my friends are flying over the north and south pole in research aircraft there were just about to launch a satellite that will measure the ice sheet at the top of the plan, top and bottom of the planet. one of the satellites i was pat of is called grace which measured the mass of the ice at the polls. greenland alone, just greenland is losing about 200 billion tons of ice by year and fresh water going into the ocean. antarctica was largely stable. the ice sheet was in changing very much. the last five years it's accelerating. step up to about 200 billion tons a year as well. that's going to change a lot. the ice caps are not something we can now stop from melting. they will not melt quickly. i would be a process i think of many centuries but in 100 or so now we will really see some noticeable differences in terms of the coastline. this is not something that has to be the end of the world or the end of civilization.
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there are ways to even now prepare for it. new zealand, for example, is now accepting pacific islanders as immigrants from islands that we know are not going to be there in 100 years. so we need to be a little bit forward thinking how we start writing cartridges, how would you deal with immigration, how we start preparing for what will be a huge number of refugees. and that can either the massively destabilizing or we could get a grip on this and do this right. then that is something that as leaders of the future i think you have a chance to really do this right. i see those things happening. we mentioned technology. some of the things i think are just wonderful, when it comes to things like climate change and getting off the possibility economy, we'll be honest about how green is green energy. that's all about and how much carbon did that take to produce? i think of the a lot of jobs available for people to look very carefully and scientifically really of what is most beneficial to the
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environment. one of those for example, is travel. i love flying everywhere. i love taking trips. i flew to this conference. that's a huge carbon footprint. getting up in an airplane. one of the things nasa is doing is much more reliant on virtual reality. we do this in a way that it blew my mind. so the reference point to go to work on mars every morning. we have them r street ossie rover on mars and it takes very high resolution images around it. all around the world, we did this for efficiency. we did this to make the process work better. scientist put on microsoft how the lens virtual reality headsets in the morning and you are standing next to curiosity on mars. you see exactly where it is right now. aching from all over the world at the same time on the headsets, we all come to mars in a little avatar forms and we can point at a rock as he lets go over there, let's program the rover to go over and sample that soil.
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but when he first did it i was like damn, i am so glad i have lived to see this picture we are all showing up together virtually to work on mars in the morning. the one thing that's bad about is the mars day is 45 minutes longer so you need to show up for five minutes late each stationary end up working all right around the clock. that's hard. anyway, so there are things i'm really looking for two in terms of technology breaking down the barriers of distance and its human interaction. then to wrap up quickly on the social changes, in working with young people, i'm very, very encouraged with different definitions and acceptances of gender difference, sexually differences. our busy being a woman in science has changed my career path. there's no way it can't. i think a wonderful career in science. i highly recommend it. but i'm one of the upper ranking people in the nasa site directorate, and the top three layers of management and specifically the nasa science
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division, are all white men. and in this day and age, 30 years ago when i was in high school they told me this problem was solved. they told me things are going to get better. when you look at this statistics of how women have advanced in many careers, yes things are definitely better. things have improved. nowhere near where they should've gone. when i see they have allowed the top three levels of management, which is about a dozen people, have no diversity, that shouldn't have been allowed to happen. i think by and large we have to really, as a community, demand that that not happen. ..
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>> you have to actually make it part of the requirements. so he went back and said you cannot participate in this international hacking society unless your team has people of color and women, young women, on it. and the responsibility, let's put it bluntly, a young white guy took responsibility and said it will not be like this. i will not let my organization simply be a way to perpetuate an existing power structure. so i'm looking forward to, in a hundred years -- and we're probably talking about the first world, maybe we're not talking about every culture on the earth. i want the idea of gender to go away. i think the whole idea of gender was a disaster. ill like to to see -- i would like to see people actively saying why the hell aren't there women and people of color in this group.
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we gave a press conference for a wonderful mission to an asteroid, and there were eight white guys up there talking about how wonderful the mission is. we can't do that. and i'm sorry for these wonderful people that i'm dragging off the panel and saying, look, i need nasa not to look like this. you know? it's an active choice. it's not waiting for this to happen, it's demanding that this happens. [applause] oh, thank you. [laughter] [applause] >> and this is something that you guys can really help me with, seriously. in your science clubs, you know, in not just science clubs, maybe in something that's a traditionally female place as well, invite people in. find a way to get people, more diverse people into your friends, into your community, into your clubs, into your classes. invite them. i realize that so much of my kind of hurt feelings in life, i have a lot of emotions. i deal with being a woman in science.
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i so wish somebody would have invited me and made me feel welcome into some of the communities i've had to barge into. and that's something you can do. you can welcome each other. i hope that happens the next hundred years. thank you. [applause] >> my name -- doesn't matter. myrrh -- my name is zed, and i work for -- [inaudible] any of you know what that acronym stands for? anybody? no? two people in the third row. [laughter] okay. it stands for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. we were looking for life in space too, but we're looking for the kind of life that you see in the movies, the guys with the big eyeballs, no clothes, no sense of humor. [laughter] we're looking for the intelligent aliens. but i do want to try and talk about the 22nd century, since that that's the title.
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old of this -- title of this panel. and in particular, you know, are you finally going to have that flying car so that you don't have to drive down to denver whenever you want to go to a movie, whatever. you can fly down there and find there's no place to park your flying car. let me say you live in a very special time. they told me that, too, when i was your age. by the way, this is not the first time i've been to boulder high. the i remember the last time i was here there was a freshman who stood up and said i don't need to take this anymore and walked out, and then everybody else walked out. [laughter] by the way, the people that i stay with here in boulder actually have a daughter who is a freshman here at boulder high. i hope she's not in the audience, because i'm undoubtedly going to embarrass her. [laughter] but let me just say that it is a special time, because things are happening in this century that are going to, i think, transform humanity, okay? and you could have been born a thousand years ago, could have
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been 1017, not 2017, and they would have told you, you know, this is going to be a special century. we're going to really get good at jousting or whatever it is, right? [laughter] okay. but they were wrong, okay? you could have been born in the roman empire, and if there had been a panel on what will life be like a hundred years from now, the answer would have been about the way it is now. in fact, homo sapiens have been strutting across this planet for roughly 200,000 years. that's a long time. and for essentially all of that, the panel would have said tomorrow will be like today. maybe a little worse, but it'll be like today, okay? so your future was going to be the same life that your grandparents had, all right? but that's not going to be true for you. and let me just say even a hundred years ago you can see the progress, beginning with the roman empire. i mean, we killed a thousand years in the middle ages but, hey, some things happened. [laughter] you know, if we were having this conference back in 1917 when there was the first world war coming out and people were on a panel saying, well, what do you think is going to be the big
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deal in 2017, what's going to be different, almost everything they said would have been irrelevant. well, we'll probably have better cars. yeah, you do have better cars. do you think these airplanes, is that technology going to go anywhere? well, yeah, it did. what about improved coal delivery to the cities so that we can heat our homes more efficiently. yeah, well, you know, we'll probably get that. they didn't foresee you weren't going to be heating your homes with coal anymore. climate change, i think, fall into that same category. i see it as a problem that's soluble. once it gets bad, it will get solved. and it's a short-term project, right? a hundred years ago in london, you know, there was a particularly smoggy, foggy winter, and everybody's heating their homes with coal. so there was coal dust everywhere. 3,000 people died, right? and they would have said, boy, this is going to to get worse because the population of london is increasing. this is an existential threat to our gusto-grabbing lifestyle.
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but, in fact, very soon hay weren't heating their homes with coal anymore. that whole problem went away. so i'm not going to, you know, speculate on problems of moment, but try and look into what's, first, what's going to happen in this century while you're in charge, and then what does that mean for the 22nd century. okay. there are, like, four things that i think are really important in this century. the first is we're finding, finally understanding biology. right? we're finally understanding. and biology's very complicated. it's because it's a bottom-up engineered system, right? what do i mean by that. you know, biology, you just get a whole bunch of critters, plants, whatever, and then you look a hundred years later and see what's left, and then they propagate themselves, and you see what's left. small changes at the dma level, a little -- dna level, a little mutation here and there, bottom-up. come prosecution the bottom. and that means it's complicated, it's messy, and mostly it doesn't work.
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ask anybody over 30, you may know people over 30. ask anybody over 30, do you think you work? they barely work, and hen today stop working. so that's biology. think about cars. cars are engineered top-down. you want this car, it's got to be able to hold one people. could we have one wheel? unstable, two wheels, not so good. six wheels? too many tires to buy. you design what it is you want, okay? that's not the way you are. you weren't designed to be somehow good or optimal or anything like that. and you to know you're not. [laughter] okay. so that's going to change. we're going to understand biology, right? that means we're going to cure a whole lot of diseases, but it has other consequences like designer babies, right? there's a guy at stanford that just wrote a book, "the end of sex." you're probably not happy to hear that. [laughter] it's the end of sex for having baby, right? just imagine, you're thinking, oh, this is crazy. i don't want that. but if you were a pregnant woman, you go into the doctor
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and the doctor says, you know, $50 more, and your kid could have the musical talents of adele or whatever, right? [laughter] are you going to say, look, $50, i don't think that's worth it. no! you get out your checkbook, if there are such things as checkbooks, okay? so that's what's going to happen. you're going to improve people, okay? and that leads to all sorts of social problems that i won't go into now, but understanding biology for the first time is going to be a big transformation, for you in particular. the second thing is we're going to be getting people living off or earth, colonies on the moon, but mostly people in orbiting cans. think of it, no mosquitoes, no poisonous snakes. you might say i don't want to live in a rotating aluminum can, but everything would be perfect. [laughter] and there's a big advantage to having people living off earth, by the way, when it comes to the 21st century -- what you're living in -- and the 22nd century. if kim jong un looses the nukes
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and everybody's wiped out here, at least there's still humans in space. so the species hasn't gone away, right? might not be good for you, but for them it's okay. [laughter] all right. so we'll be living off earth. the second thing is we're going to find life in space, and that's my day job to find the aliens. we can talk about that. but i've got everybody seven years ago, i got everybody a -- i bet everybody a cup of starbucks we'll find aliens in 20 years. it may be that i don't have to buy that coffee. how will that affect you, the car buyer? well, we can talk about it, but it will be interesting at the very least to know you're not to the the only kid on the block, right? there are plenty of other kids, and ones you hear from are more advanced technically than you are. so maybe they can tell you here's how to avoid war, here's how to cure death, whatever. so that's the third thing. the fourth thing, however, is the most important, and this in some ways is almost the most certain of them all x that is we're inventing our successors.
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and this is both encouraging and scary. and that is artificial intelligence, thinking machines, okay? i went to cal tech luncheon a couple of weeks ago, and some guy was talking about a machine that can recognize cats, a computer that can regular recognize cats. i don't know what the usefulness of that might be, but maybe this computer looks at the web all the time, all these cat videos. [laughter] this machine can recognize cats better than humans can. this machine is better. you may think as a doctor you're pretty good at diagnosing diseases, this machine is better. today we can build machines that, for a lot of money, are really, really good at doing one thing. like recognizing cats, right? [laughter] but what's going to happen by 2050, you'll still be young. by 2050, you have machines doing things better at being cognitive. any job you get where your task
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is repetitive, that's going to be gone in ten years. and the question is if your ambition is to write the great american novel or do something like that, or basic research, the machine will be better at that too. the problem with the thinking machines is this: as soon as you have a thinking machine, the first thing you ask it is design a machine better than you are. and you build that. design a machine better than that. build that. right? that's not the way homo sapiens work. you're no smarter than the kids in the roman empire. you could take those kids and bring them to boulder high, and they'd do fine. the machines are not like that. that's not darwin january evolution. they are designed top-down to be better. so what that means in the 22nd century is that we're no longer in charge, that the machines are smarter than we are. and, you know, some student stood up a couple of years ago when i mentioned it, and he said but wouldn't they kill us all? >> [laughter] i just thought that was, you know, the optimism of youth -- [laughter] but then i thought, you know,
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hey, i have some goldfish at home. i'm smarter than they are, but i don't wake up every morning, i've got to kill those guys. [laughter] that never to occurs to me. [laughter] all right. so what happens when the machines are smarter than we are? i don't know. i don't know. it sounds kind of scary to me personally, but, you know, it doesn't take much to be smarter than i am. there are a couple of she their yores -- scenarios that are obvious. most of the intelligence in the universe is probably not soft and squishy the way you are, it's probably a machine, but it could be that we become their pets -- [laughter] and looking looking at the way s are treat at my house, it's okay. they get the sleep a lot -- [laughter] i don't know, maybe that's okay. but the other thing is they may not find you all that interesting. i have apts in my back -- ants in my backyard, and i could try and improve their behavior. they're having wars, i don't go out, hey, look, you guys, either you behave, or i'm going to bring in some, you know, ant killer or something. [laughter]
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no interest. there's a story by a famous science fiction writer in which he said the government is designing a thinking machine for defense purposes, and the machine did those jobs. and then, you know, they had to design a better machine. by the time they got the third generation, it was so so smart, it was no longer interested in doing the jobs that its human masters wanted it to do. in fact, it had nothing to do with the humans unless they tried to pull the plug, in which case it killed them, all right? and which is fitting there. at the end of the story, the machine is just sitting this humming. it's doing something. maybe it's just playing free cell. who knows what it's doing. but nobody knowsment and that a may be the future. i think the 22nd century's going to be absolutely different because of what's happening in this century directed by you. [applause] >> okay.
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we're going to open the floor to questions. i see, there should be two microphones. are there two microphones? i see one. am i blind? is that a microphone too? there's supposed to be two microphones. oh, it's up there. up there? where is the other microphone? i'm blind. we just have one microphone. okay, they're making a cutting sound, like they're going to cut off my head. all right. so we've got the microphone here. first questions come from students. the public when the students are all done, of course, feel free to line up, okay? this is not a forum to make a at the same time, people. you've got to ask a question. if you start making statements, i'm going to cut you off with my duck whistle, all right? so, and be respectful, of course, but i know you will be, all right? >> hi. my name's malia. this is mainly directed to you, michelle. i was wondering if the recent discovery of organic matter six miles below the mariana trench
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changes your predictions of life on other planets. >> i mean, what we're finding out about the earth, i mean, this is one of my favorite things about science. i think you have david coming in with some astrobiology too. when we looked at environments outside the earth, it makes us look back at us and say, well, is there anything here that's kind of similar to that, you know? is there any place where we have actually really kind of missed the point of where you would find life. one, for example, is the atmosphere of venus. we found very, very high-altitude bacteria on earth way up in the atmosphere. we're not sure how it got up there. and there are layers in the atmosphere of venus, venus is a hell hole. it's 900 degrees, it's got this terrible air pressure, but way up in the atmosphere, you might be able to find life even on venus. we're finding life, i mean, it survives terrible, you know, pressure, like you said, deep in the marianas trench, high acid levels, high salt levels, high stops, low temperatures, it
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makes these environments outside the earth look really friendly. there's stuff on our planet that could survive on mars, on uro to pa, on titan. and so, of course, you know, the really, really cool thing is, you know, there's a possible -- this is highly controversial. when we landed on the moon on saturn, some people thought there was an imbalance in the gases which might be bacteria breathing and metabolizing. and we actually have found bacteria on earth that used methane, because titan has oceans not of water, but of methane and a very, very deep ocean. there's actually methane ice and bacteria that can metabolize the methane. so looking at space and then looking back here at the same time finding life every freaking place on this planet, places we never thought there would be life. this is one of the reasons i'm so optimistic. i think that we're going to find multiple places in our solar system where there's life. >> thank you.
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[applause] [inaudible] >> i have a question for all three of you, actually. so you've all spokennen about how -- spoken about how even if we have no idea what will change over the next century, we're pretty sure that something maybe is going to change to a very, very large degree, to an extent that's degrees of magnitude larger than a change over however many other centuries of human existence. and you've also all agreed that those changes are to a great extent going to require a change in how humans live and how human societies function. so my question is do you think that humans psychologically never having faced a period of
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change that's this drastic are capable of restructuring human life in a way that will cope with, will adapt to these changes that we may face. >> that's a great question. and as seth mentioned, you know, it's probably always true or has often been true that people imagine this is a special time, and we're facing some circumstances humans have never faced, and this is the critical time in human history, and it's probably easy to have illusions about that. but there are a lot of, i think, objective reasons to believe that that is the case, that we are facing some -- entering what some people have called a bottleneck where because of some of these trends that i mentioned earlier, we're either going to fundamentally change our nature and our relationship to the natural world, or we're not going to be able to thrive.
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the technological changes, some of which we've mentioned, are the reasons why it's hard to predict exactly how that will unfold. but there are social changes that are necessary. and in a way, those are the hardest to imagine. but you said that humans have never had to do this before. i would actually dispute that. but i think you have to go way back this history to the to find a time -- history to find a time where we've had to do this before, before recorded history. if you look at the long-term evolutionary history of human beings -- now i'm talking about going back millions of years -- there are several times when we've faced existential crises. our predecessor ises did. and we responded to those by reinventing ourselves. there was a time about 190,000 years ago, this is a genetic bottleneck, meaning that human beings maybe our pre-human
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ancestors may have gone down to 1,000 individuals or less. this, by the way, is why human beings are so genetically undiverse. we're so uniform compared to other large mammals. we're all same, basically, which is why some of the issues that michelle mentioned are especially absurd, some of these issues of prejudice and racism and so forth. because when you look at us genetically, scientifically, there's really no difference between us almost as human beings. because we survived a genetic bottleneck. how did we survive? it looks as though we survived by reinventing ourselves, by finding new ways to cooperate and live together and use language and work together to invent social and material technologies. if anyone's interested in what i'm talking about, it's actually really cool. look up pinnacle point, and there's a great scientific american article about a few years ago. and this may have been the origin of modern humans many response to almost being wiped
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out -- in response to almost being wiped out and reinventing ourselves and the way we live together and use technology socially and materially. we've done this before, it's just been a long time. and it may be that, you know, it's hard for us -- these are the hardest changes for us to imagine. imagine a, trying to describe a modern city, denver, or a modern town, boulder. imagine trying to describe the way we live to a hunter-gatherer who lived 40,000 years ago many car. in africa. describe a modern city. it would be very hard for them to comprehend. maybe that's as hard as it is for us to comprehend a few thousand years from now the way the fully-sustainable human civilization that we might create. and by the way, when we first became town and city dwellers and lived together in that kind of you are urban density, our cities were public health nightmares because we, among other reasons, we threw our solid waste, our human waste into the streets.
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and then we invented sewer systems, something we take for granted. but a technological innovation that allowed our social organization to work and live in that great density. we have other problems. we take that for granted, the sewer systems, because they work so well, and they're beneath us, and we don't see them. inventions like that allowed us to live together in a new way. in a certain sense for the 22nd century, our challenge now is to invent those new sewer systems. now we're throwing our waste into the atmosphere, but it's the technological innovation that facilitates our innate social -- we do have an innate social prowess. that's what distinguishes human beings, is our ability to plan and live and work together. you know, we're better as groups, in groups. we were never the fastest runner on the savannah, we never had the sharpest claws, but we became the dominant species because of our group-planning and working together. we have an innate ability to do
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that, now we just need to expan it to the next level -- expand it to the next level. so, you know, i think you're right to think that that is our challenge, is the social change that we need to make with this new, hopefully, spreading awareness of what our real challenges are. but i wouldn't say that there's not precedent, and i am hopeful about. [applause] >> okay. i don't know that all of us need to answer that question. he asked all three. should i -- >> no, you don't have to unless you want to. >> i'll just say one thing. one thing that is in the near-term future, of course, is technological augmentation which is to say, right, suppose we could put a chip in your brain, because it's coming. a chip in your brain so that you recognize everybody. you didn't forget their name even though you only saw them five years ago. instead of getting information by going to your phone and
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typing something into the net, it's all there, right? you can get all the information on the internet, actually, into a grain of sand if you have three-dimensional memory technology. that's coming, all right? so you don't look things up, you just think, gosh, you know, what is the capital of the bosnia herzegovina empire, something that probably puzzles you every day. [laughter] you don't have to type, you just think about it. so those are augmentations. and will that change humanity? i don't think so, because -- i mean, it will, but, you know, limited way. it's like putting a four-cylinder engine in a horse. you get a faster horse, but, you know, pretty soon you say, you know, can we get rid of the horse part and just build the maserati? okay, that's what's going to happen. i think, you know, we'll adapt. but i worry that it may become irrelevant. [applause] >> hi. i'm zane, and i was wondering
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what the worst possible fallout from global warming might be. or what your guys', you guys think about that. >> the worst possible fallout could get pretty damn bad. [laughter] you know, we actually are running climate models at nasa, and a model means a huge supercomputer is crunching lots of data, and we're sort of looking back through the past to see how the atmosphere behaved, the land behaved, how the temperatures on earth responded. it's not something that we know is entirely true. it's our best scientific guess. and there are better and worse scenarios depending how quickly we get off fossil fuel, basically. and so the worst scenarios are veried bad. you know, things like, you know, you could get as much as 100 feet of ocean level rise in the coming centuries. it doesn't go fast. the middle east becomes unlivable, temperatures of 170 degrees in the middle east. you know, world food production disrupted. think about wars that that's going to perpetuate.
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what happens? the pentagon, somewhat optimistically, estimates there'll be a quarter billion refugees by the year 2060 on our current path. we've never tried to relocate a quarter billion people before. what sort of wars will that, will that kick off in there's -- kick off? there's also this rather odd ideas, i should say odd, people are talking about it actively, trying to artificially cool the earth by basically dumping tons and tons of particles into the earth's atmosphere to make the atmosphere darker and reflect the sun and, therefore, it'll cool. the thing scientists worry about is how do you know how much is too much until you cool the earth into another ice age? the night mare she nay owes -- scenarios are about as bad as you want to get. however, hopefully you're seeing a strain of optimism through us. those are the worst scenarios. we're really screwed. but, you know, i mean, i do remember the example be of an
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economist 100 years ago that looked at the population of the earth skyrocketing and said we are all going to starve to death in a hundred years, and that didn't happen. we invented better foods, better food distribution, better food security, you know? we could feed the population of the world if it gets up to 9, 10, 11 billion, we can feed all those people. we have that ability. so when you ask what are the worst case scenarios, yeah, they're bad. but we don't have to choose them. >> do you think they're likely though? [laughter] >> so i agree with everything michelle said. climate modeling is hard. it's what i do for a living, actually, is i model climate. mostly on other planets, but it gives me insight into earth as well. there are, the reason why it's hard is because there are these feedbacks, positive and negative. which, again, i used the word nonlinear before about human systems. in climate systems, that's why it's hard. there are things that amplify other things that make the
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system very hard to predict. but there are also what we call negative feedbacks that are rampant in the system that do the opposite. when something starts to increase, something else increases that damps that down. and the system has a lot of both, which makes it hard to predict. so the worst case scenario physically is one of these positive feedbacks gets triggered. an ample is you mentioned -- an example is you mentioned the methane on the ocean floor and also in permafrost in siberia and places like that. things start to warm up, the methane gets released, that's a greenhouse gas, that makes it hotter. so the system jump toss a hotter state. -- jumps to a hotter state. and the people that know the most about this, and i've talked to some of them, don't think that's imminent. but they can't tell you 100% for sure that it's not. and that's, to me, in terms of the physical changes of the earth is most scary part. and it's another reason why we really have to work very hard to
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change our energy systems and limit our emissions. not just because of the predictable things which are bad but, you know, i think tractable, but because of some of these possibilities of things that we know about but can't predict when they might kick in. as far as the human scenario, okay, worst case scenario, playing off what michelle said, you know, there's so much displacement and conflict because of the scarcity and the inability of certain parts of the world to support and feed people that, basically, our modern civilization collapses. and, you know, you've read all the science fiction stories. we revert to some pre or post-technological state. i don't think even in those situations we're talking about the extinction of the human race. i don't think even in a nuclear war -- and personally, we haven't really talked about. i'm more worried at moment about nuclear war than climate change because of some short-term
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things that are happening right now. but even in that scenario, i don't -- we're not talking about the extinction of the human race, because humans are so scattered and adaptable that there are so many locations where in the right microclimate -- we're civilization builders. we would build another one and maybe do a better job of it, learning from history. obviously, we don't want to go there. and as far as the second thing you just asked do i think that's likely, i mean, i am an optimistic and that's partly through what i've learned about studying history and the way things change in surprising ways. and i think there are a lot of forces that are pushing us towards better solutions. i mean, i look at the way energy's changing and wind and solar are getting cheaper. and, frankly, i'm optimistic because of you guys. when i talk to young people and i've been doing a lot of that litly on a book -- lately on a
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book tour i've been on. not necessarily high school kids, but a lot of millennials show up. and the way they voted in the last election and the way they seem to be concerned and ware of the global situation, i feel like if we just get through the next decade and kind of hang on and don't, like, screw up the world and hand it off to in this generation that's coming up now with a, i think, a more solid awareness of what our real situation on this planet and what our real challenges are, then i think we'll be okay. [applause] thank you. >> hi. i just had a question for michelle and seth. you guys both kind of, like, research life outside of earth, like, where they could be and stuff. but how do you kind of search for life that has learned to live in, like, 300-degree-fahrenheit, like, stuff that we don't -- like, we only know how life can live on
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earth, but how do you look for things that could survive, like, and stuff we have no idea about? >> oh, that's such a wonderful question. and the interesting thing is i'm actually an astrophysicist. my specialty is not the search for life, and i'm sitting with two people who might be better. >> one thing i'll say quickly, you identify a great puzzle, because we don't even really know how to define life. excuse me. we don't even really know how to define life because we have one example of life which is earth's biosphere. and it's a weird thing scientifically to try and define and search for something that you have one example of. could you imagine, you know, trying to -- if you had one organism and that's it, trying to characterize the biodiversity of life on earth, you couldn't do it. how can we characterize the biodiversity of life in the universe when we have one biosphere. so we have traditional ideas, but we don't really know. how do we address your question.
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one thing we do is we think about, and it causes us to think deeply about what life is and how it interacts with the planet. and we surmise even if life is very different from our kind of life, it's got to be sewer acting with its planet -- interacting with its planet in some ways. life multipie -- multiplies, so we talk about looking for dis- equilibrium, changes in a planet's atmosphere that don't seem to be caused by any non-biological process. there's some weird gas in that atmosphere that can't really be caused by volcanos or other things. certainly, if you were an alien look at earth, the first thing you would notice. all the other planets -- [audio difficulty] >> i think the simple answer is you look for signal, right? and that's what david's just talking about here.
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the signal from earth that there's life are only twofold that are really important. one is, you know, we've been broadcasting things into space since the second world ward war, okay? so if they're relatively close, they might pick up some of the early tv, decide they don't like the earth, come and to writ rate everybody. -- to obliterate everybody. but they have to make a signal you can find. or you have to go there. there's seven other places in our solar system that i can think of where there might be life, two -- >> pluto -- [inaudible] >> well, maybe more. david has even suggested there might be life in the atmosphere of venus, you know, floating up where the temperatures are not 800 degrees on a cool taker okay? so how do you find them? in all these cases, you could actually go and somehow dig around and try and find it. but if you're talking about life on a world that's around another star system, you're not going to go there. you hope it put does things like put a lot of oxygen in the
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atmosphere. that oxygen is because of plants, right? so you could find, you know, you could find lettuce in space, right? but from the oxygen. you could find i cows in space or pigs in space, pigs in space -- [laughter] you could find pigs in space because they emit methane, right? signals. the kind of life i'm looking for, intelligent life, if they make radio signal, then we can find them. that's how we define intelligent life. if you can build a radio transmitter, you're intent. ask the people next to you, can you build a radio transmitter? and you'll know how to treat them -- >> actually, if i could just a little bit of a comment there. >> yeah, yeah. >> this is one of these things i'd love to have you do an internship at massa for. honestfully. by the time you get to college, we don't have so many for high school students because they're not legal majors. for college students we have thousands of internships. when you send something to mars,
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how do you recognize martian life that may be very biologically different from us? this has been a problem since the 1970s when we landed the viking landers there which may or may not have detected life on mars. and for curiosity, we have something called a carbon trap where we actually feed different organic molecules into the soil samples that we take and see if anybody can use any of the chemistry, if they can attach to it. unfortunately, it is really hard to send a microscope. drill into oil soil, take a sample, put it under a slide, look for anything moving around, that's hard to do remotely. we're using these traps, could you just offer martian life a twinkie? would it do anything with it? we don't know how to detect or interact with it chemically. so that's something we have whole departments at nasa work on. i think that's a cool thing to go into. hint, hint. astrobiology. >> and make sure and get michelle's card, and she'll get you an internship. [laughter]
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>> okay, thank you. [applause] >> hi. my name's -- [inaudible] my question's for seth. you were talking about machines getting smarter than humans in the future. how do you think that would be possible since we're the creators and programmers of those machines? and how do you think a machine can think on its own? >> >> yeah. i think the question really, you're asking, you know, what about these machines? we create the machines, so how could they be better or be a threat to us. right? yeah. well, it'd be nice to think that if, you know, we create the machines, if they're getting out of line. if you go to one of these a.i. conferences, they were talking about -- the title how to instill moral behavior in the machines. what a complicate way of saying can we pull the plug if it's necessary, right? [laughter] if anybody has ever heard of isaac asimov, he wrote a lot of science fiction and popular
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science quite a while ago now, but he had three rules of robotics, right? the robots, i mean, this was for fiction, but he said the robots have to obey their master, they can't hurt humans and all this kind of stuff. which is all completely nonsense, because if you look at the kind of robots designed today, they're mostly for things like warfare. so they're not going to listen to that. you might think the first generation of thinking machines you building will listen to you. you created them, and they will be programmed, because they were programmed by humans. they will be programmed to not hurt you, you know, not take over the house, right? not rearrange the furniture, anything like that. leave the cat alone, whatever, all right? but the next generation, we'll probably still do that. but by the third or fourth generation, the machines are developing the next generation. so the question of what you want is not relevant to them. they will do what they want. and that isn't to say they will be, you know, horrible to you. i mean, as i said, i'm not horrible to the other -- i mean,
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i eat some cows, but, you know, i'm not really horrible to the other life forms here on the planet, right? i don't know, the question is a bit like asking the -- [inaudible] you know, a couple of hundred million years from now, there'll be homo sapiens walking around. how are you going to control those guys. >> i offer a slightly different take? i feel like someone needs to counter seth's repeated insistence that the machines that we're inventing are our successors and that we're going to be pets or irrelevant, even while acknowledging that may be entirely correct. [laughter] but the fact is, i mean, artificial intelligence and machine consciousness, awareness if that happens, is one of these game-changers that is possibly on horizon, possibly soon that allows, you know, makes the 22nd century completely, honestly, unpredictable. and a lot of people have a very fixed view or pretty strong opinions about what that's going to look like. you may have heard of this guy
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who talks about the singularity and people who assume there's going to be this intelligence explosion because machines are going to get smart and build smarter machines, and we're going to be irrelevant. that's a caricature of some of the things seth is talking about. it may be absolutely correct, but some people are very certain it's correct, and it depends on ideas about what consciousness is and how brains work that really we completely don't know what consciousness is. we have some ideas about how brains work, and if it's just a matter of making, you know, connecting enough processers together that work fast enough and mimic sort of the architecture of our brain and the muir ons that are interacting -- neurons that are interacting and it wakes up and says, i'm conscious, take me to your leader, or i'm your new leader. that could happen. but we don't know that. that's based on some assumptions about how minds work. so it's definitely true that artificial intelligence is going to completely change things, change the nature of work, change maybe the way we interact with one another, but some
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specific notions, let me offer another possible idea, metaphor. maybe we're not creating our successors so much as creating our future severals or creating the next step in human evolution. there was a time when life was all single-celled, all a bacteria, and that was it. and then life became multi-cellular. and in a certain sense, what an an mall organism is -- animal organism, you are a collection of microbes. both in the sense that each of your individual cells is very similar to the architecture of a microbial cell, but they made some bargain where they all get together and form a higher -- if we want to be self-aggrandizing -- individual organism that can do all the things that animals can do that bacteria can't. and in the sense that we've recently learned about what people call the micro-biome which are not just germs that make you sick but, in fact,
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essential parts of you and other organisms. there's a sense in which microbes have reached their next step of evolution, and that's you. and maybe we could think of machine intelligence if it ends up affecting the way we interact with one another and we become part of some new entity in which the machines are doing whatever they do and augmenting us and changing profoundly the nature of what we are. but we might still live in that assemblage, whatever it is. do your bacteria think that they got such a bad deal with this next step of evolution? no. they're still living inside you doing what bacteria do. it's great. so humans may ultimately become embedded in this new partnership with machines. and maybe it will even help us solve this problem of how to do we be social and cooperative on a larger scale. seth mentioned the chips that'll a make it so that you can recognize people inch instantly and know about them and not forget ab them. -- about them.
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that is a profound change in the way we human beings interact and change the way we interact at large scale, but we would still be human beings. another way to think of it is this machine augmentation will just be a facilitation of the next step in human evolution, and maybe there are ways which it will actually help us to do better at being a global species. >> thank you. >> i think a lot of times we don't actually have enough imagination. oh, is this on? can you guys hear me? yeah, there we go. i think a lot of times science fiction doesn't have enough imagination. i'm going back to some of the emotional aspects of this. did you see the movie "her?" that was an interesting movie, i thought. it was about a guy that basically falls in love with the operating system of his smartphone. and it turned out -- siri, he falls in love with siri, for those of you who love "the big bang theory," there's jokes about this. the operating system had gotten so complex and all these devices
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were interacting together kind of behind the scenes. they basically figured out human emotions better than we do. and they didn't kill us. they fell in love with us. they became our perfect friends, our perfect lovers. and then very much like we talked about, then they lost interest in us. there was so much more emotional richness and more experiences to have that they as a group then left. didn't kill us, didn't hurt us, they went on to something else that we could not experience. as a physicist, i'm constantly not impressed by human consciousness. i have the deal over and over again with particle physic, with working in 11-dimensional space, and as a four to-dimensional creature, i cannot tell you what that means. i deal not only with different dimensions in space, but different dimensions in time. and my computer algorithms can deal with this 11 dimensional space. and, you know, we are not this wonderful pinnacle of evolution. we have a long way to go before we understand the simple physics
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right in front of our eyes. i cannot understand the quantum mechanics problem unless i think in 11 dimensions, and my brain doesn't do that. and, you know, i'm really looking forward to the augmentation of having devices in your head that may be able to comprehend more dimensions of time. you may have seen the movie "arrival," different types of linguistics make us think about time differently. as a physicist, our linear idea of time went out window a hundred years ago. that's nothing new. how do we comprehend that? we're going to need machines to help us do that, we're going to need to augment ourselves. we have a common friend who's cochlear implants. he doesn't hear like a human, he hears like something else. why just hear in the ranges that humans hear? why don't you make implants so people can hear ranges we can't summary eye implants to see colors we can't see? brain implants to comprehend mathematics that we cannot get because we're not 11 dimensional.
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>> and by the way this common friend of ours, his name is mike, he wrote an amazing book about -- >> rebuilt. >> he is, actually, sort of an ab destroyed. and he told -- an android. he told me recently he got a firmware update in his cochlear implants. he had to learn to hear, first it was just -- and he had to strain his brain -- train his brain to translate that. now you can have a conversation. but he recently got a firmware update that let him appreciate music for the first time. and it was really neat hearing him describe that to me. he's like what should i listen to? [laughter] you know, he's an adult human like us, but because he got this improvement in technology, he's experiencing music in a whole new way. imagine extrapolating that into the future, and it's not necessarily all bad. >> what if technology makes us love more, be more emotional, be more 'em nettic? -- empathetic? why do we assume it's only going to separate us? >> thank you.
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[applause] >> hi. so my name's -- [inaudible] and my question is moremy michelle. because of all these technological advancements that have been happening through the last, like, 20 years, do you think the mars landing will happen sooner than people have thought of before? >> the mars landing. okay, will it happen sooner than we hope? you know, this is something -- i work at massa headquarters which deals with the budget -- nasa headquarters which deals with the budget and the politics. technologically, it would be incredibly difficult but not necessarily impossible. the movie and the book "the martian" does give you a scenario where i think that could actually work, by and large. we have been given no where near the budget to do that. the thing that's a little bit difficult is, you know, this is a time in history where i think there's life on a moon of saturn, but we don't have the budget to go this, right? we -- to go there, right?
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we're so close, something's tantalizing us. we could technologically send a human mission to mars, but there's no proposal that comes remotely close to funding it. so right now there are people, you know, in washington and all over the world saying let's go to mars. we're going to go to mars. we're going to be to mars in the mid 2020s. no. i mean, there may be another event like apollo where politically something just kick starts it, you know? if china actually really has the potential to go to mars, maybe the united states will say, damn, we've got to do that. maybe they'll figure something out like that. but right now it's frustrating, you know, working in the space program because we could do these things, but we're not anywhere close to given the funding for it. so we're laying down the research and the technology development and doing what we can. but the thing that i'm a little bit not on optimistic about is actually seeing humans on mars in my lifetime. we'll send rovers, we'll send robotic probes. we may send people to mars if there becomes a political will
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for it. but right now i have to say that there's nothing, even a percentage of the budget needed that's been proposed. >> there's a well known mars researcher who says he could get you to mars in five years for $4 billion, which sounds like a lot, but it's not very much. >> $4 billion? >> no. i earn that on my paper route. you could -- [laughter] >> that's nothing. >> so you could do it very quickly, if you had the money, as michelle says. there are other people who would make similar claims. i'd like to ask you guys a question. how many of you guys would like to go to mars? the martians are here. [laughter] that's a fair fraction that would fill up the rocketship. how many of you would go to mars on a one-way ticket? it's not zero. it's not zero. and that's very interesting, because there is an initiative out of the netherlands, in fact, called mars one. you might want to google it sometime. mars one. you can sign up to go to mars on a one-way ticket.
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it isn't to say you land on mars and two weeks later you're dead, although you might be. the idea is you go, like, pilgrims on the mayflower. you go to mars and set up your own society there. and that might work. but, you know, you might check it out. mars one if you're really -- >> it is worth mentioning that mars one is not affiliated with any space program. it's a reality television show. >> no, no, they don't have rockets, but this is so you can tell the other kids, you know, i'm signed up to go to mars. >> how many of you would contribute $100 for a program designed to send one person, the current president of the united states, to mars on a one-way trip? [laughter] >> that's not a fair question in boulder, colorado. >> i know. i know i'm playing to my audience. >> it brings up an interesting point though. the nasa budget is about one-half of 1% of the federal budget. so, i mean, basically, if all of you guys would give $100 a year,
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that would, like, ten times our, you know, our budget. maybe not ten times, be but that would give us enough money to do that. that's another interesting question. is there a political will to the put that tax money in? i would love to go back to the moon, potentially. i would love to establish a moon base and develop the technology to take us on to mars from there. that's kind of my personal thing. i'd love to see people back on the moon. [applause] >> all right. you he can key guy -- you lucky guy, you're the last question. [laughter] no pressure. >> regarding the idea of augment ations, i'm just curious how that might affect our education system with this wealth of knowledge available. [laughter] [inaudible conversations] >> oh, yeah. yeah, yeah, yeah. education.
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look at it, you know? [laughter] you have good fun for the first six years of your life, right? then they send you off to school. and then you face, well, another six years in school until you graduate from high school, you may think that's the end of it, but you -- not in boulder. that's not the end of it. you're going to go at least for another four years, right, through college. and by the way, most people will be told, you know, you want that dream job as a weight guesser down at the amusement park, then you better get a graduate degree. that's another four years. so here is the design plan for homo sapiens. you're born, you have fun for six years, and then for the next, what, 18 years, right, the next 18 or 20 years you're in school, and you learn some things. then you to go out and get a job where you get to exploit some of those things for maybe 30, 40 years. and then that's it, and they throw you into the ground. the whole system goes into the ground. that's not a good use -- [laughter] of you, right? you may not want to do that.
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and the facts are that once you get those brain implants, i mean, this is going to be really hard and probably not happen, but it could. all the stuff you're going to learn, you know, you could put that on a thumb drive. not the social experiences. those are harder. but maybe you could put that on a second thumb drive. so you get to be 6 years old, we'll just download it into your brain, and now you're a college graduate. [laughter] >> but i would also say that these same trends of technology we're talking about will profoundly change other things including the reason why the purpose of education. right now we think of the purpose of education as something something to do with jobs. but if technology goes in some of these directions that seth has been talking about and a lot of people speculate about, within your lifetime there may well be no such thing as a job. and that may not be a bad thing. arthur c. clark, who was one of the prophets of some of these future possibilities, said the goal of the future is full
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unemployment. [laughter] so that we can play. that's the part that's important, so that we can play. you know, this will create a huge challenge economically, you know? it may be that we have to separate the need for a job from the need for a livelihood, and people are talking about universal basic income and going, oh, that's socialism. but the fact is if there aren't jobs but we have a society that has lots of resources, this' only a problem -- that's only a problem if you need to have a job to have a livelihood. and it may be the whole purpose of education goes back to the, you know, the ideal of a liberal education which is you're educating yourself to be an educated person, not for some vocational training. and, yeah, maybe you can do it all with a chip and then spend the rest of your life playing. that would be fun. >> it's a weekend every day of the week. [laughter] [applause] >> thank you.
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[applause] >> i want to thank you, you've been an awesome audience, and thank the panelists. this was way interesting. [cheers and applause] we'll send you off into the future. [applause] [inaudible conversations] >> booktv recently visited capitol hill toll to ask members of congress what they're reading this summer. >> well, i read a lot, and i love history. i just finished reading a book called "six months in 1945" which told about all the great historic events that took place in those first few months.
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some peace conferences between the big three, the death of president roosevelt, the dropping of the atomic bomb, the defeat of winston churchill in the election. a lot of things happened in that first six months. also i just read a very humorous book called "a downhill lie" by a humor writer. he told about giving up golf when he was 23 and picking it up 30 years later and following that year. i'm also reading another scottish mystery by m.c. beaton, a woman. i've read several of her murder mysteries for laptop reading. and then i'm reading, i've read about half of david stockman's book called "trumped." so i've got several things that i'm either reading or just finished reading. >> booktv wants to know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list i have. >> twitter @booktv or instagram,@book underscore tv or
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post it to our facebook page, booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. >> when you think about a one-day festival, the national book festival, and you have over a hundred authors from children's authors, illustrators, graphic novelists, all of these different authors there all day, over 100,000 people come in and celebrate books and reading. you can't have a better time, i think. and i'm a little prejudiced because i'm a librarian. but i have to tell you, any reader or anybody that wants to get inspired, the book festival is the perfect place. >> booktv's live, all-day coverage begins saturday at 10 a.m. with featured authors including pulitzer prize-winning authors david mccullough and thomas friedman, former secretary of state condoleezza rice and best selling authors
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michael lewis and j.d. vance. the national book festival, live saturday starting at 10 a.m. eastern on c-span2's booktv. >> labor day on c-span, at 6:45 p.m. eastern former president obama accepts the annual jfk profile in courage award. at 8, columnist and national review senior editor jonah goldberg. >> conservatives should not place all of their hopes in any politician. go back and read the founders, read the federalist papers. they say this over and over and over again, that you should have a healthy distrust of any political leader. sometimes particularly the ones that claim to be speaking for you. >> and then at 9 p.m. eastern, university of southern california annenberg professor diane winston. >> six corporations own much of the american news media, and the
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digital revolution has, meanwhile, transformed the economy. .. >> now a form of the trump administration and its relationship with the press. including differences between the 45th president and his predecessors in dealing with the media and how legal protections for the american press contrast with those of their foreign counterparts. >> welcome. thanks for coming on a sunday morning in the summer. i would think we have a great panel here on president trump


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