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Towards 2020 Science

11 Sep 2008

Science will be absolutely central – indeed critical – to understanding and addressing the most important challenges we face this century. Chief amongst them are: (1) the possibility of rapid climate change and loss of Earth’s life support system; (2) pressures on the planet with a population of over nine billion people; (3) a range of diseases that prematurely kill millions of people every year; (4) the very real risk of a sudden global pandemic that could kill hundreds of millions, possibly over a billion people.

With these potentially [probably] come profound implications for the continued availability and security of our food and water, the displacement and movement of hundreds of millions of people, the means by which we produce our energy requirements, and for the future of our species and thousands of other species with whom we share our planet. These big societal challenges in turn pose some enormous challenges for science, requiring fundamental advances in numerous areas of science, some where intractable problems exist. This talk outlines some of these challenges and where solutions to them might need to be sought.

Stephen is Head of Microsoft’s Computational Science Research, leading an international, multi-disciplinary research effort focused on accelerating fundamental advances in science in areas of societal importance, but where current scientific approaches continue to pose barriers to such advances. A neuroscientist, Stephen’s scientific career spans research positions at The Centre for Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Stirling; AT&T Bell Laboratories; chief scientist of NCR’s advanced research; and University College London. Stephen is also Professor of Computational Science at Oxford University.

This is a recording of the opening keynote: ‘Towards 2020 Science’ from the eResearch Conference 2008, University of Oxford. The conference sought to stimulate and inform multi-disciplinary research on the development, use and implications of ICTs such as the Internet in shaping research across the disciplines. It brought together research from key e-Research projects from around the world that are examining the role of the Internet, Web and the Grid in research.