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Humanity at the crossroads: 21st century risks and opportunities

This discourse will draw out the ethical and social implications raised by the major shifts in society and technology.

What major changes will we face in the coming decades? Dr Ian Goldin, Director of the 21st Century School at Oxford University will identify the transformational shifts in technology and society and draw out the implications for individuals, business and public policy. Drawing on the wide ranging research currently being undertaken at the 21st Century School, the discourse will go beyond the extrapolation of past trends to consider how the future may differ from our current understanding of progress.

Dr Goldin attributes the extraordinary growth of the past thirty years to the period of unprecedented globalisation and accelerating technological change - but will these trends continue?

In the first instance, the discourse will look at population and demographic trends, considering the implications for pensions, retirement, dependency and migration patterns to the year 2050. It will then explore economic trends, considering whether the current dramatic instability in the market is likely to be a short-term deviation from longer term trends. Dr Goldin will also touch on key elements in technological change, focusing on advances in computing, biotechnology, nano-technology and medicine.

Following an examination of the opportunities arising from social and technological change, the discourse turns its focus to risk. Dr Goldin shows that the nature of risk is undergoing fundamental change and that risk analysis requires new frameworks. He considers systemic risks, such as financial systems, pandemics, bio and nuclear terrorism and climate change, as well as the changing nature of more localised risks, due to complexity and integration arising from globalisation.

Overall, the discourse will draw out the ethical and social implications raised by the major shifts in society and technology. In particular, the bio-ethical issues associated with stem cell, genetic and other medical research. What are the public policy issues associated with the management of the financial crisis and of climate change, as well as the risks posed by pandemics and terrorism? In his discourse, Dr Goldin provides fresh insights into the global governance issues associated with the rapid integration of global risks and examines the implications for governments, businesses and individuals.


Professor Ian Goldin | talks | www


Date and Time:

30 October 2009 at 8:00 pm


1 hour 30 minutes



The Royal Institution
21 Albemarle Street
020 7409 2992

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Tickets are free to Ri Full Members, £10 Associate Members and £15 guests.

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