FALLING WALLS IN BERLIN – A DIGITAL MOON, RESURRECTION PLANTS AND OTHER WONDERS – THE FUTURE WAS HERE!
Benjamin Barber from City University of New York managed to get the audience to think of cities instead of nation states. Barber proposed a new global model of governance, in which cities are the key players. According to Barber, nation states will not govern globally. Cities can. They already are. Half of the human race lives in cities and the influence of places like Mumbai, Nairobi, Sao Paulo or Manila has long transcended regional and national borders. Barber thinks that we cannot solve social problems like diseases, economic crisis or climate change on a national level. His studies show that cities have the capacity to deal with internal and external issues and could easily replace our system of nation states in the future.
Daniel Nocera conquered the guests’ attention by mentioning a simple number: “I calculated that we will need 16 Terawatt more energy to meet the demand by 2050.” With the poor in mind, Nocera has made it his mission to develop an artificial leave which, when placed in a glass of tap water and exposed to sunlight, is able to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Both gases can then be collected, stored as fuel in private households and later be fed to fuel cells to generate electricity.
Further speakers at the conference included the Nobel Laureates Jules Hoffmann and Dan Shechtman, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Robert Kirshner from Harvard University, Onora O’Neill from Cambridge University, Sophia Vinagradov from the University of California and many more. In the first session, two of the world’s most successful artists, Ai Weiwei (via video link) and Olafur Eliasson unveiled their new collaboration Moon, a vast, glowing digital chalkboard. “Creativity defies boundaries”, their website reads – unhappily emphasized when access to it became blocked in mainland China within 24 hours of launch. More than 8000 viewers watched this years conference via livestream. and a recording of the conference can be found online at www.falling-walls.com/livestream. (mb)