La science peut-elle sauver le monde ?

CAMBRIDGE – Pour la plupart d’entre nous, il n’y a jamais eu de meilleure époque pour vivre qu’aujourd’hui. Les innovations à l’origine des progrès économiques – l’informatique, les biotechnologies et les nanotechnologies – peuvent augmenter les niveaux de vie à la fois dans les pays en développement et dans le monde développé. Nous nous ancrons dans un cyberespace qui peut relier n’importe qui, n’importe où à toute l’information et la culture du monde – ainsi qu’à n’importe quelle autre personne sur la planète.

Les technologies du XXIe siècle permettront de vivre sans abîmer notre environnement et offriront des ressources aptes à soulager les souffrances et à augmenter les chances de survie des deux milliards d’habitants les plus pauvres de la Terre. En outre, la plus grande menace des années 1960 et 1970 – l’anéantissement nucléaire – a diminué. Cette menace pourrait cependant réapparaître en cas d’affrontement entre de nouvelles super-puissances. Et il existe d’autres risques issus du plus grand impact collectif de l’humanité sur la planète ainsi que de l’augmentation de la puissance de certains individus.

Peu après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, des scientifiques de l’université de Chicago ont lancé un journal appelé Bulletin of Atomic Scientists visant à promouvoir le contrôle des armes. Le logo sur sa couverture était une horloge, dont la proximité des aiguilles avec minuit indiquait l’évaluation de la précarité de la situation mondiale par les rédacteurs. Toutes les quelques années, l’aiguille des minutes avançait ou reculait. C’est en 1962, pendant la crise des missiles cubains, qu’elle s’est le plus rapprochée de minuit.

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