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Strengthening democracy and science

The peaceful post-war order is ending and power is being redistributed. The far-reaching consequences will be analysed by Farah Abdi (SOM), blogger, human rights and transgender activist, Cathryn Clüver (DE/US), political scientist at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School in Harvard, Ruth Dreifuss (CH), former president of Switzerland and now chair of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Arancha González (ESP), Director of the International Trade Centre in Geneva, Ulrike Guerot (D), professor of European politics and democracy research at the Danube University Krems, John Keane (AU), professor of politics and director of the Sydney Democracy Network at the University of Sydney, Ivan Krastev (BGR), one of Europe’s leading foreign-policy thinkers, the democracy researcher Wolfgang Merkel (D) of the Berlin Social Science Center, Robby Mook (US), Hillary Clinton’s campaign boss in the most recent US election, the populism expert Jan-Werner Müller (D), fellow of Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences, the TTIP specialist Gabriel Felbermayr (A), director of Munich’s ifo Center of Economic Studies and Jan Zielonka (PL), political scientist at Oxford University.

Artificial intelligence and revolutionary technologies

More and more tasks previously reserved for humans can now be carried out by robots, algorithms and autonomously learning codes. They can conquer towering mountains of data, understand language, recognise individual people and react to their environment at lightning speed. The advance of new technologies is creating previously unheard-of possibilities, while also throwing up entirely new questions of ethics and safety, which will be examined at Alpbach by international experts: Francoise Baylis (CAN), philosopher and ethics researcher at the Dalhousie University in Halifax, Tommaso Calarco (IT) of the University of Ulm, one of Europe’s leading quantum physicists, Adam Greenfield (US), information architect from the London School of Economics, who researches the permeation of urban life with computers, Rahaf Harfoush (SYR), digital anthropologist and bestselling author, Gero Miesenböck (AT), who works at Oxford University mapping the human brain, Eleonore Pauwels (US) of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, who works on the largest revolution in biology, genome editing, Alex Pentland (US), professor at the MIT Media Lab, who researches the principles of cooperation as social physics, Robert-Jan Smits (NLD), EU Director General for Research and Innovation, who will discuss the strategic direction of travel for EU innovation policy, Eyal Weizman (ISR), architect and director of the research group Forensic Architecture, which uses new methods to investigate crimes in the world’s conflict zones, Otmar D. Wiestler (D), President of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres.

Social and environmental innovations

When the economy grows it consumes more resources. The following speakers will be discussing ways to escape this ostensible law of nature and to win the support of the people in doing so: Barbara Buchner (AT), Executive Director of the Climate Policy Initiative in San Francisco and globally sought-after consultant for sustainable investment, Jeffrey Chantal Bilodeau (CAN), director of the environmental performance group “The Arctic Cycle” from New York, Rowan Conway (GB), Director of Innovation at Britain’s Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, Ernst Fehr (AT), influential behavioural economist at the University of Zurich, who researches how people make decisions, Mariana Mazzucato (ITA/US), economist and professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex, Toke Moeller (DNK), who travels the globe as a participation expert, Jennifer Morgan (US), Director of Greenpeace International, one of the world’s leading environmental activists, and Jeffrey Sachs (US), UN Special Adviser and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

In the new Professional Programme Our World’s Future (26 and 27 August), experts will run a realistic simulation game demonstrating how organisations can implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals.