press release
Published: 28 February 2018

Will technology save us or will it be our downfall?

By Dalitso Njolinjo

Renowned cosmologist and space scientist, Lord Professor Martin Rees, is set to give the inaugural Adams Sweeting Lecture for the new series at the University of Surrey on Wednesday 28 February.

During his speech, Lord Rees will sound the alarm and say that humanity needs to be wary of the consequences its technological advancements – such as artificial intelligence, biotechnological and space exploration – will have to the health of the planet.  He will say that advances – such as those seen at the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre – might bring about great hopes, but that they also bring great challenges.

Lord Rees first articulated his concerns in the book 'Our Final Century?' and this has since led him to join with colleagues in setting up the Centre for the Study of Existential Risks – an organisation based in Cambridge that has a strong international advisory board.

The Adams Sweeting Lecture in Frontier Science and Technology is the University’s flagship lecture series established in honour of Professor Alf Adams – inventor of the strained-layer quantum-well laser used in DVD players and barcode scanners – and Professor Sir Martin Sweeting, the founder of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd and the Surrey Space Centre.

The Adams Sweeting Lecture is sponsored by Investec.

Lord Professor Martin Rees said: “This topic has been close to my heart for more than 15 years and I am delighted to share my thoughts at the inaugural Adams Sweeting Lecture.

“Our country has many institutions that produce inspiring and innovative work, some that change the very course of history. However, it is important that we all remain vigilant and focus on how we can harness the harmless effects of new technologies such as biotech, clean energy, AI and space, while safeguarding ourselves against the new risks that they pose.”

Professor Max Lu, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, said: “We are delighted to welcome one of the country’s most influential thinkers and an icon in the astrophysics field to our University. I welcome all participants in this lecture, and hope everyone will enjoy it and the associated discussions.”

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