I was sent by the Guardian Weekend Magazine to Trinity College in Cambridge, with the instruction of meeting the cosmologist professor Sir Martin Rees, philosophy don Huw Price, economic theorist Partha Dasgupta and Jaan Tallinn, a programmer who co-founded Skype. These four men are the founding members of the ‘Centre for the Study of Existential Risk’, essentially on alert for what is considered ‘low-risk-but-high-consequence events’ threatening human existence and the future of the planet, including the potential of artificial intelligence taking over.
I didn’t know where to start. I got a distinct impression from early on that I would struggle to have a valid input into much of the conversation, as pleasant as everybody was, so I stuck to the job in hand of creating a series of pictures that would place a relatively technologically orientated article of such magnitude within a traditional setting. I was given two places within the walled confines of Trinity College where I could take pictures; one being the gardens of the Great Court, the other being the office of Sir Martin Rees.
The resulting article, which can be found here is a fascinating insight into the potential threats that we may face in our generation, however unlikely they may be.
Below is a portrait of Sir Martin Rees, I did a fantastic job of re-arranging all the furniture in his office, but remained onside with the porters and gardeners of the great court despite violating ‘keep off the grass’ notices. I mentioned it in jest to the others, but in the grand scheme of risk assessment, it was somewhere these ‘Saviours of the universe’ were prepared to tread.