The pioneering work done by the scientists at the Oxford Martin School promises to transform our world – to prolong our life-spans, enhance our brains, conquer food scarcity and solve the climate change problem. How do they propose to take us to this Brave New World and what nasty surprises might they unleash as they prise open Pandora’s box?
In this conference, organised jointly by the Oxford Martin School and Intelligence Squared, four of the school’s most brilliant experts will be showcasing their vision of the future before addressing challenges from you, the audience, about the potential perils that such visions may bring with them.
After a scene-setting presentation by Dr Ian Goldin, in which he will lay out a vision for the world in 2020, the evening will be divided in to two halves:
Why accept frailty as part of the human condition when science is poised to keep us healthy and sane? Dr Bennett Foddy will present the case for biological enhancement of the human body. Should we embrace therapeutic cloning and genetic manipulation so that we can live longer and healthier lives, or is this eugenics by another name? As for the human brain, Professor Gero Miesenböck will tell us how his cutting-edge work in the new science of optogenetics – developing genetic strategies for observing and controlling the function of brain circuits with light – can help us understand our brains and potentially manipulate them. What are the ethical problems we’ll be facing if these visions of ‘mind control’ are fulfilled?
TRANSFORMING THE ENVIRONMENT
No less revolutionary are the ideas being put forward to transform the world in which we live. Professor Liam Dolan will be arguing that new techniques for manipulating crop genes hold the key to increasing yields and alleviating concerns about global food security. Professor Gideon Henderson will explain how the global warming problem could be solved by manipulating the natural system of the oceans to make them take up more carbon. GM crops. Altering the patterns of nature. Are these our route to survival or will we be unleashing unstoppable changes in the environment that we – or future generations – may live to regret?