Leading experts to debate the future of healthcare, geopolitics, globalisation and technology

12 September 2014

© Istock/Various

What are the major health challenges of the future and how should we deal with them? How can we manage the risks that are the flipside of globalisation, or the threat posed by runaway artificial intelligence? And, as we struggle to overcome global gridlock in areas such as economics, climate, trade and security, are governments at risk of losing the habit of co-operation? Join us at the Oxford Martin School this autumn – in person or via our live webcasts – as we open up the debate on key issues affecting our world, and assess their impact on our future.

Our Michaelmas Term seminar series, ‘Health in the 21st Century: what’s new?’ will draw on expertise from across the School’s research programmes, and also from invited speakers. The series begins on 16 October with Professor Peter Piot, Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and a member of the Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations, who will give his views on the long-term challenges in global health. As the series continues we’ll find out why the world needs a new vaccines strategy, discuss the impact of our diets on both our health and that of the planet, and explore the challenges that lie ahead in the fight against HIV and hepatitis C. We’ll also discover how Oxford’s mobile technology pioneers are improving healthcare across the globe, why the process of drug discovery needs to be reconstructed, and examine new strategies for disease prevention and management, from infancy to old age.

On 13 October the school will host a talk by Professor Nick Bostrom, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, on his new book, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies, a journey that takes us to the frontiers of thinking about the human condition and the future of intelligent life. If machine brains one day come to surpass those of humans, could our species survive the intelligence ‘explosion’?

On 23 October Lord Patten of Barnes, Chancellor of the University of Oxford and former Conservative Party Chairman and Governor of Hong Kong, will speak on ‘Gridlock and train crashes: what happens when the world loses the habit of cooperation’. Lord Patten, also a member of the Oxford Martin Commission on Future Generations, will look at why, despite our extensive knowledge of the major challenges the world faces during coming decades, impasse exists in global attempts to address economic, climate, trade, security, and other key issues. Examining the implications of this gridlock, he will draw on the work of the Commission as well as experiences from his distinguished political and diplomatic career.

The Oxford Martin School’s Director, Professor Ian Goldin, will give insights into his new book, 'The Butterfly Defect: How globalisation creates systemic risks, and what to do about it', in a lecture on 10 November. In the book he argues that while globalisation has brought us vast benefits, including growth in incomes, education, innovation and connectivity, it also creates systemic risks that have the potential to destabilise our societies. The risks spread across supply chains, pandemics, infrastructure, ecology, climate change, economics and politics. Unless these risks are addressed, says Professor Goldin, they could lead to greater protectionism, xenophobia, nationalism and to deglobalisation, rising conflict and slower growth.

On 18 November, the School will host a panel discussion bringing together experts from a range of our research programmes to explore the themes contained in ‘Is the Planet Full?’, a collection of essays released earlier this year, which draws on expertise from across the School. Discussing whether our planet can continue to support a growing population, estimated to reach 10 billion people by the middle of the century, will be:

  • Professor Charles Godfray, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and author of the chapter 'How can 9-10 Billion People be Fed Sustainably and Equitably by 2050'?
  • Professor Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin School, Editor of 'Is the Planet Full?' and author of the chapter 'Governance Matters Most'
  • Professor Sarah Harper, Director of the Oxford Institute of Population Ageing, Oxford Martin School and author of the chapter 'Demographic and Environmental Transitions'
  • Professor Yadvinder Malhi, Director of the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests, Oxford Martin School and author of the chapter 'The Metabolism of a Human-Dominated Planet'
  • Dr Toby Ord, James Martin Fellow at the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology and author of the chapter 'Overpopulation or Underpopulation?'

All of the events will be streamed live online on our YouTube channel, and you can join the debate on social media for our seminar series with the Twitter hashtag #c21health