Welcome Plenary (all attendees)
Lee Francis, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Rachel Bronson, Executive Director and Publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The Road Ahead
Session I (choose one)
Integrating Art and Science
Eugenia Cheng, Scientist in Residence, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Art and science share one of the most basic building blocks -- creativity. And yet, we tend to think of them as distinct fields with hardened boundaries. Why are today’s leading art students flocking to science and technology courses? Can scientific advancement be led by art? Come discuss these questions and more with mathematician Eugenia Cheng, the creator of Hotel EMC2s art installations commemorating Symmetry and Emmy Noether, one of the most important women in the history of mathematics.
Is National Intelligence an Advantage or Vulnerability?
Jennifer Sims, Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
Innovation, including the emerging Internet of Things, has increased the power of both governments and industry to conduct clandestine sensing and mass surveillance. Terrorists and the trafficking of fissile material have created incentives for governments to apply these capabilities domestically. Do these trends suggest an emerging threat to democratic systems of governance? How so? What are the solutions, if any?
Nuclear Weapons in the 21st Century
Sharon Squassoni, Senior Fellow and Director of the Proliferation Prevention Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
Nuclear weapons may be the most overrated and underused weapon of the 20th century. Must these weapons continue to dominate countries’ security considerations in the 21st century? What can be done to reduce political and military reliance on nuclear weapons? What does the future look like without a stable nuclear arms control agenda moving forward?
The US Budget and its Implications for Addressing Climate Change
David Titley, Founding Director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk and Professor of Practice in Meteorology and Professor in International Affairs at The Pennsylvania State University
The impacts of climate change (floods, drought, wild-fires, sea-level rise, and excessive heat) already account for hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. Without better policies, it is likely these costs will escalate into the trillions, especially as sea level rise exacts a toll on coastal communities. While adaptation and mitigation would help reduce costs, there is little political appetite for such investments. What will change the climate calculus, what is the appropriate role of the federal government in funding change - and how will we pay for the huge price tag coming due?
Session II (choose one)
Existential Threats from Cyberspace – The Big Picture
Herb Lin, Senior Research Scholar for Cyber Policy and Security at the Center for International Security at Stanford University and the Cooperation and Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University
Considerable resources are being devoted to protecting energy grids, military assets and financial networks from cyberattack. But are threats to infrastructure, important though they are, the most critical? Modern civilization as we know it is driven by broad acceptance of reason, logic, and objective realities. But advancements in cyber and related technologies—broadly construed as technologies for computing and communications and themselves products of reason and fact-based science—are beginning to serve darker ends, such as the demise of rational discourse in an informed marketplace of ideas. Long-existing social contracts, such as the relationship between work and income, are also under pressure from these technologies. What does the future hold?
Biodefense – Are We Safe Enough?
Suzet McKinney, Executive Director of the Illinois Medical District Commission
When it comes to emergency preparedness, planners have their hands full. Publics expect a strong defense against a host of threats including pandemics, terrorist attacks and natural hazards, notwithstanding the fact that the nature of each is changing rapidly. What is the state of current planning? Has the U.S. developed appropriate biodefense capabilities? What role do federal, state and local actors play and are they coordinating well? Globally, who is preparing well, and what lessons can be learned?
The 75™ Anniversary of Enrico Fermi’s First Sustaining Nuclear Reaction, and Its Implications for Today’s Scientific Landscape
Robert Rosner, William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and Physics at the University of Chicago
Scientific advancement raises vexing moral and political questions. What role should scientists play in addressing the political consequences of their research? Manhattan Project scientists thought a lot about this question, and the need to manage the consequences of their work. What lessons can be applied to today’s most important science and technology breakthroughs?
Session III (choose one)
Storm Clouds over North East Asia: A View from South Korea
Han Sung-Joo, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United States (2003-2005), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1993-94)
When Barak Obama left office, he told the incoming President that the Korean Peninsula would be one of his toughest national security issues. President Trump told his team that history would judge him by it. Resumed tensions in North East Asians have focused global attention, and present daunting challenges. Join this session to discuss how we got here, and options for moving forward.
Elizabeth Kolbert, Staff Writer, The New Yorker. In conversation with John Mecklin, Editor in Chief, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
The earth is losing biodiversity at a rapid pace, and it’s difficult to build public support to stop it. This is partly because we’ve grown used to species going extinct, but also because it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. What role is a changing climate playing in this loss, and what does a less biodiverse planet look like? Why is it so hard to talk about climate change and its effect on plants and animals, even though more people go to zoos and aquariums than sporting events?
The War on Science, Why It Matters, What Needs to be Done
Lawrence Krauss, Founding Director, Origins Project, Arizona State University
In its January 2017 annual statement, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists recognized that “technology continues to outpace humanity’s capacity to control it, even as many citizens lose faith in the institutions upon which they must rely to make scientific innovation work for rather than against them.” A war on science is being waged in many quarters that threatens nothing less than the advancement of our civilization. Not so sure? Want to do something about it? Come join the conversation.