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The McKelvy House Scholars invite the campus to join a dinner discussion of the achievements and advancements in molecular nanotechnology and what it means for the future Sunday evening.

The meal will begin at 6 p.m. at McKelvy House, 200 High Street. Led by Marquis Scholar and mathematics major Ryan McCall ’07 (Seneca, Pa), the discussion will start at 6:30 p.m.

He argues that the growth rate of technology is accelerating and that the advancements will have beneficial and adverse effects, specifically in molecular nanotechnology. Molecular nanotechnology is the engineering of tiny machines able to build materials on the atomic scale. He states advancements in these tools will enable people to choose their life span and break down waste while reversing environmental damage. Other possibilities in the near future include artificial intelligence and brain scanning.

McCall has titled the discussion “Intro to the Singularity and Activism.” Singularity refers to “a point in the future where technological progress and artificial intelligence grow so rapidly that it is difficult to imagine what will happen next,” he says.

However, these advantages come with drawbacks. “Nano-weapons” and bioengineered pathogens would pose serious threats, and super advancements in computing power could create “superintelligences” that could be “unfriendly.”

This aspect leads to the need for activism.

“The first thing that needs to be done is to spread the word. Simply, too few people are aware of this matter,” McCall explains. “These technologies may not be reality yet, but their impact will be so profound that we ought to act now. This is not about ‘techno-rapture’ but about the responsibility we have to the human species.”

Links to websites on the discussion topics are available on McCall’s blog website.

Since 1962, the McKelvy House Scholars program has brought together Lafayette students with a wide range of majors and interests to reside in a historic off-campus house and share in intellectual and social activities. Sunday dinner discussions that engage the students in debate and exchange of ideas are the hallmark of the program; several Wednesday discussions have been added this school year. Most members also contribute to the annual McKelvy Papers, written on a topic of each person’s choice. McKelvy Scholars participate in activities together such as field trips to plays, concerts, and exhibits, and sponsor events for the campus as well.

Past discussions
Oct. 5 — Folk Music as Vehicle For Social Change
Sept. 25 — Freedom and Other Remembrance Issues
Sept. 20 — The Powerful Thrust of Language on Civic Arousal
Sept. 14 — Apathy
Sept. 11 — Why Do We Care about One Another?

Categorized in: Academic News