Have you met Lawrence Krauss? – Geek Picnic 2017


Hello, my name is Jean-Christophe Bonis, we
are now in Moscow for the Geek Picnic festival and the last session is the best one. Please be very aware because this discussion
will be amazing. May I ask you kindly who you are? You are a rockstar, I saw you yesterday signing
hundreds of autographs. Please explain people who you are. I’m Lawrence Krauss, I’m a theoretical
physicist, and a writer and I have a number of other hats as well, including this one
that I am wearing right now. Are you here to talk about astrophysics? I was talking about my most recent book which
is “The greatest story ever told so far”,which is a history of physics. I should also add that I directed a wonderful
institute which I think you would be interested in, called “The Origins Project”, which
looks at everything from the origin of the universe through the origins of consciousness, and
origins of xenophobia and violence, even we just had a workshop on the future of artificial
intelligence, which I know is a subject that you and I share many feelings about it. We will talk about it. I was talking yesterday with a lawyer in Moscow
and I discovered that in Sweden, they were creating a Ministry of Future, and that’s
concrete. Every government should think about the future. I don’t think that they do that well. You are travelling worldwide. Do you see some governments that are more
aware of that? I think that there are governments that plan
for the future in many ways. I think that the Nordic governments are a
good example, they try to be sustainable. There are other governments that plan for
the future that are more totalitarian. For example, Singapore. I was amazed that when I was in Singapore,
they built a highway that wasn’t used now, but they knew in ten years, there would be
population there and so they were preparing and so I thought it was amazing, but only
in a place that is tightly controlled. At the same time, they are investing a lot
in self driving cars, so it is interesting to see both ways. They are making both options. Exactly, that is not a bad idea because as
I often say, the problem with predicting the future is that you miss a lot of things. The future is a surprise, if it wasn’t it
wouldn’t be so interesting. Are you optimist? I’ll tell you something I learned from a
friend of mine who is a famous writer, Koramic McCarthy, who writes very dark books. You may have heard of him. He likes science and we became friends. When I first met him, he has very cheerful
and so I said how can you be so cheerful? Your books are so dark. He said to me I’m a pessimist but that’s
no reason to be gloomy, and that’s become my mantra. That’s also yours? Yeah, on the whole, I have concerns about
the future, short term and long term, but I think making the most of the moment is the
most important. We were together in the press conference on
Friday, you told something that amazed me a lot because if was very funny. You told people and me, that what is amazing
in your job is that you will be dead when what you are expecting will happen potentially. Well you know, it is easier with my idea of
cosmology, and one of the things of my research is understanding the early universe but also
understanding the far future of the universe, which in many ways is simpler than understanding
the dynamics of what’s happening today or tomorrow. And it is remarkable that we can say certain
things with a straight face. I have written about the probable future,
it’s kind of like Charles Dickens, it’s maybe the future, because we cannot say for
certain but the future of the universe as it is more likely going to be, based on what
we can measure now, which is an amazing fact that the universe is expanding ever faster. It’s not slowing down like it should if
gravity was attractive. Normally, we think gravity sucks but in this
case it also blows. The energy of the universe is dominated by
the energy of empty space which is really weird. If you take a regional space and you get rid
of everything in it, it weighs something and we do understand why. But that causes a kind of cosmic anti-gravity,
a repulsion, and the expansion of universe the is speeding up. If you wait long enough, and in a paper I
calculated, two trillion years from now, all of the galaxies we now see in the universe
will have disappeared because of the moving away from us faster than light. And people in the far future, if there are
such intelligent beings, there will still be stars around and in our galaxy in two trillion years, maybe
there will be a civilisation around those stars. They will develop science, they will develop
cameras and technology but they will look out and they will think they live in the universe
that we thought we lived in a hundred years ago, they will see an empty and infinite universe,
with no idea that it is expanding, because they cannot see any galaxies. They will think their galaxy is the only galaxy,
and there will be no evidence of the Big Bang, all that will have disappeared. And then the stars will burn out and the universe
will become cold, dark and empty, and that’s the future. Thinking about that, you are very close to
energy because your job is to talk about it, but macro energy. Macro energy of universe, but of course I
have a number of other hats, one of my hat is that I am chairman of the board of something
called the “Bulletin of the atomic scientists”, which sets the doomsday clock. So I think about the future in shorter terms
as well and we recently moved the clock forward. Every year, for seventy years we have set
the clock. And there are several factors. We are considering that one is nuclear weapons,
which is still an urgent and pressing concern. But there is climate change and energy and
these issues are of vital importance to me and especially now that I live in the United
States, they are of even more importance because unfortunately, in the United States, probably
the only industrialised country in the world where all parties of controlled governments
don’t accept the reality of climate change. And of course when it comes to energy, the
need for sustainable renewable energy source, which the past previous governments were of
course supporting and it is of vital importance. It is amazing and heartening in some ways
to see how other countries taking the lead, it is sad that the United States have decided
to step back. But other countries are taking the lead. I was amazed when I was in England, two weeks
ago, and England doesn’t get a lot of sun, but everywhere I went, there were huge solar
energy fields. I read that for the first time, 25% of the
energy in England was generated by solar power, which I would have guessed would have never
been possible for England of all places in the world. 25% is a lot, it is interesting. Yeah, it is a lot, especially for a country
that does not get a lot of sun. It is a surprise. In link with the energy, I would like to get
back to my idea. What is your opinion about energy for people,
personal energy? The link between macro and micro. Well, we have our energy larger because of
the sun. We are 80 watt heaters, 100 watt heaters if
we are active, and so generating a little less heat probably than the light that is shining on us right now. Happily I had some ice cream … A lot of people think that life violates the second law of thermonamic or something, which says that universe is becoming more disordered. It is a closed system, in some sense, energy
always moves in the direction of disorder. But we are not a closed system: we have the sun that is shining right now down on the earth and every day, about 10 000 times more
energy is impinging on the earth than is used by humanity. But it is that solar energy that is ultimately
resulting in you and I being alive because it is the solar energy that gets converted
into food and everything else. And so, there is this need for life to get energy coming in in order to maintain the order that we have. And of course when a person dies, you see
quickly how that order goes away. Exactly. You are on the same level as Stephen Hawking,
can you say so? I guess so maybe. So, have you also the same opinions? Last month, he gave a great lecture about the
future and what will happen. He said that if everybody continues to follow that way, in terms of new technologies and environment, human being will not be on earth
in a hundred years. Stephen is an old friend and I have known
him for many many years. He makes brief statements, because it is hard
for him to make long statements. I’m dubious about such predictions. I differ maybe with Stephen and other persons
I know well. I think that in the long term, the future
of humanity is maybe in space, of course that is the very long term, because earth has a final life time and it’s also a target for things like asteroids, which we may be able to defend against, that’s another thing. But I’m not convinced that human space colonisation
in the near term is either viable or worthwhile. As a scientist, I am much more interested
in non human exploration of space. And the reason is quite simple. Because if you send human into space, 99.9% of the money is spent keeping them alive often getting them back, whereas if you send a robot to Mars it doesn’t really matter. As I often like to say, you can send a robot
to Mars for the cost of a movie about making Bruce Willis go to Mars. You know, in Europe, my job as futurist is
not very famous. Everybody is looking at me in a very special way, half of them are joking or thinking that it is maybe not true, and the other half is
interested and want to go deeper. I worry, as I say, I take the easier road
because I’ll be dead by the time you can check my predictions. I said it the other day, and you probably
disagree with it, if I look at the predictions of the future 50 years ago, in my opinion, they missed the most important developments because technology produces surprising discoveries. So it’s very difficult to predict down the
road, even in the near term, what are going to be the important technologies that will
affect society. Of course, there are ideas, and we know that artificial intelligence, as we talk, is going to be clearly a growth area. But there are always the ones coming out of the field, like the discovery of penicillin or of internet. So I’m always sceptical of whatever I hear. So when I hear predictions about the future, I’m sceptical and I wonder what you think about it. In fact, I totally agree with you. But I disagree about the topic because I don’t think that what is important now is what is happening in twenty years. I think that what is important now is to think about the differences and to see what could happen and in that way, to think about the impact
on the society, to prepare the population. As I said during the conference with a former countryman of yours, who said fortune favors the prepared ones. Exactly, in that way it is totally different because basically my job is not to tell what will happen in twenty years because in twenty years all will be different. My job today is just to aware people about
what is important and the impacts that we could face. In that way, it is a good link and what is totally different now compared to the Greek period and so on is the fact that it is going so fast. Now we are talking about some stuff that will
arrive when we will still be alive. In twenty of thirty years, the impact on the
society will be huge. During that period of time, it was about hundred
years and the impact on the society was absolutely not linked to the information. I feel very good in that way because I try to stay on the global aspect and to warn people about the impact. And concerning the impact, it is clear that
most of the people, including us, are playing on different timing, we are totally aware
about that. In fact, that is what I do as well as a scientist and my role with the Bulletin is to try to warn people about what is happening in the real world, so that they can make more responsible decisions about policy. Exactly. Thank you for telling that because that is
linked to the next question I would like to ask to you. I deeply trust that we need to focus on the
line between what is good and what is bad. Today, we are almost gods: we are able to create life, modify life, give life to computers in some way. It means that we have a lot of power but we
do not have enough responsibilities. We are not aware enough about the social level
of our responsibilities. I spent a lot of time with the community of
people who were developing deep learning machines who are beginning to think about that, at least recognise that the key issues have to be addressed, because of unanticipated consequences
of the development of artificial intelligence. That is why the Origins Project ran a meeting, bringing together artificial intelligence people, security people, intelligence people, talking about disrupted
scenarios that artificial intelligence may produce. So I think that people are beginning to think
about those. It is just like my friends who do synthetic
biology, and we have had meetings on that. And they had to get together and think about what are the constraints, are there If you are creating new life forms, constraints, should there be some general consensus among the scientific community on what one should be allowed to do or not allowed to do. And I think that the communities are beginning
to think seriously about those issues and it is very important that they do so. Yes, and the big problem is that we are very
few to be aware about what is happening. When you are looking at the population, they
are just impacted day after day, not having any idea about anything. The wave is a tsunami and we are talking about
huge ones, not very small ones: artificial intelligence is one, biotechnology, robots. When we see what is happening by twenty years,
it is absolutely crazy in terms of impact on jobs, on the population. What are the most three important countries
in the world in terms of automatization: South Korea, Japan and Germany. The three countries have full employment. Why? Because today, for one robot you need ten
jobs. And I know and I hear a lot of people telling
that they need jobs, that is not true. But people a afraid about that. It is interesting that you say that, and I did not know that statistic until I heard you say it the other day. But I do think that it is very important to recognise that the jobs that human do will change dramatically as more and more artificial intelligence is developed. That is a fact. I think that it is true that one will find
that there will be a lot of people who will lose a job. The question is how as a society do you respond
to it. I have talked to a friend of mine who is an
economist, and I agree with him. As Keynes used to argue, as when industrialisation came out, that what it would do is relieve us from tedious jobs and society would spread these resources and we could spend more time in art, music, literature. But that has not happened and ultimately, I think that autonomous systems will generate a great deal of wealth that could benefit
society as a whole and that should be spread more equally around people who should be able to go to a coffee shop and read books, or think, or go to places, or listen to music. And that we should use the fact that computers
will be doing many more of our tasks, to make our lives better. But I worry that if the present is any guide,
that what will happen is that the resources generated, will go to a very small group of
people who control those resources. And in the future I see two possibilities. Either we go that way with a very concentrated set of wealth and a lot of people who may find themselves displaced and discontent because of that. Or, we are wise enough to realise that this
could be a good thing for everyone. It is nice to see that in some societies that
are moving into that direction, there is at least full employment now. That is right. I deeply think that everybody can change the
world. You know, I know that it seems big for people. For you, as an American, you are maybe used to that because many people have a vision of the world, doing more than business. Me, I’m doing that to change the world, as I have the impact using my voice, my reputation, of butterfly effect. Explaining what is happening, and trying to
give them options. As an educator, I use an expression a lot: “if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. I am an educator, and I think that the best
thing we can do for society as a whole is educate people about the realities of the
world and what the potential changes would be so that people would be more able to take
the future into their hands. I just want to finish because time is running. I met a lot of people who are between trying to follow the road, the society and trying to follow their dreams. In between, most of the time they do not know
how to deal with that and they are more and more afraid for some of them of what is happening in terms of future. What kind of advice can you give them, as
you are in the third part of life? Don’t take it bad, meaning taking things
with distance. The advice I tend to give to young people
is don’t let the bastards take you down. Namely, remember what you are excited about, remember why you are excited about it and follow your passions. Exactly. Because if you don’t you will not enjoy
yourself and you will not do a good job. Too many young people are worried about money and jobs, and I can understand that in hard times. But ultimately, in any career or institution,
there will be huge setbacks, problems and issues and often you lose sight of why you
are doing what your are doing. So if you can just remind yourself of that
periodically to give yourself motivation to continue, I think that it is very important. Thank you for your time, it was a great talk. Thank you. Guys, this was a great talk. Keep following our videos and please follow this guy because the next time we will have a discussion about something much deeper. That means that we will meet again and I definitely
will come to your institute. Thank you.

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