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Edward Fredkin and Richard Fredkin, "The Threat of Human Extinction"

Friday, February 22, 2002, 12:30 PM EST

Bartos Theatre, MIT Media Lab (E15)

Professor Emeritus Marvin Minsky, Society of Mind group

Unfortunately, new developments in science and technology provide ever more efficient modalities for terrorist attacks on society. It is safe to assume that, given present rates of progress, ever smaller groups of individuals will be able to unleash events that cause arbitrarily large numbers of deaths. There are 2 questions that will be addressed:

  • Can we greatly reduce the numbers of people motivated to conduct terrorist attacks?
  • Can we exercise world-wide control over technologies that might be exploited by terrorists, or that might accidentally cause great mischief?
In both cases the consequences of a failure to do our best might be far worse than anything previously contemplated; all of mankind might become extinct.

Edward Fredkin's current scientific work is in the field of discrete physics. He is a Visiting Scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory He has held previous academic appointments at MIT, Caltech, BU and is currently on the faculty at CMU. Edward Fredkin and Richard Fredkin are collaborating on research related to these global problems.

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