Meet Earth’s Guardians, the real-world X-men and women saving us from existential threats

12 February 2017
by Richard Benson

One wintry evening in November 2016, an international group of 50 scholars gathered at a candlelit dinner in the 14th-century Old Library at Pembroke College, Cambridge, to discuss grevious threats facing the world's civilisations.

An eavesdropper in the shadows playing on the wood-panelled walls might have heard Shahar Avin, an Israeli software engineer and expert in the philosophy of science, discussing the coming dangers of artificial intelligence ("It won't be about The Terminator! More likely an algorithm selling online ads, which realises that it can sell more if its readers are other robots, not humans"). Or perhaps Julius Weitzdörfer, the German disaster specialist looking after the legal fallout of the Fukushima catastrophe, analysing the implications of Donald Trump's presidency ("It will make people aware that they need to think about risks, but, in a world where scientific evidence isn't taken into account, all the threats we face will increase").

Subscribe to our mailing list to get our latest updates