Science & tech bring risks, but we need them to save humanity – physicist to RT

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Amid breakthroughs in science and tech, we should focus on how best to ensure their benefits without allowing fears of a Terminator-style-apocalypse stifle efforts to improve lives, theoretical physicist Jim Al-Khalili told RT.

Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics and Distinguished Chair in Physics at the University of Surrey in England, spoke to RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze about the pace of scientific development, including the danger of such tools ending up in the wrong hands.

The risks of something like artificial intelligence having a bad impact on humanity can, and should, be mitigated by ensuring that regulation and ethical considerations are married with scientific progress, according to the scientist. 

“I certainly am concerned about issues such as genetic engineering, where we’re moving very fast,” he admitted. “But we’ve always used our knowledge to develop technologies that change our world.”

“Enlightenment is always better than ignorance: It’s how we put that knowledge into use [that’s important].”

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Al-Khalili said that though we face huge challenges in the coming decades, we ultimately need science “to save humanity.”

“Despite all the problems and the issues facing humanity in the 21st century, now is still the best time to be alive because of the advances in medicine and technology our lives are easier, richer.”

Asked about the communication gap between researchers and the public, Al-Khalili said it would be hugely beneficial if more scientists stepped out of their labs and offices and engaged with the wider social sphere about their work and its potential applications. However, he also pointed out that it’s not fair to expect someone who has dedicated many years to intricate, detailed research to be able to condense it all into a simple soundbite.

Al-Khalili also discussed issues which have long fascinated science fiction writers and fans: teleportation and time travel. However, he says he’s not convinced either is possible in practice – or at least not within his lifetime.

Watch the full interview here:

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