Can Technology Help Build a Shock-Resistant Planet?

June 17, 2020
DESCRIPTION: Industrialized humanity has built a hyperlinked and fast-changing planet – from the greenhouse-gas buildup in the shared atmosphere to the intercontinental interconnections that took a novel virus from China to the depths of the Amazon forest (and everywhere in between) in just a few months.

Can all of the technological and scientific capacity that has created layers of intertwined risks help cut odds of the worst outcomes going forward?

Can there be a dynamic, responsive “immune system” for the planet – whether the target is pathogens or other threats?

We engage some leading thinkers and doers at several levels of the question, and in key regions, in a brisk initial brainstorm on what will be a sustained thread of inquiry on the Earth Institute’s Sustain What webcast.

This episode of the Earth Institute Sustain What webcast was inspired by "We Can Build an Immune System for the Planet" - a recent visionary post by David Bray, who founded and runs the new GeoTech Center at the Atlantic Council.

What's the balance of government action and open-access models of surveillance, analysis and response in shaping resilient outcomes in a world of intertwined drivers of risk.


David Bray, Atlantic Council

Divya Chander, a physician centered in neuroscience and new applications of technology - Singularity University

Katindi Sivi Njonjo, a futurist and scenario strategist in Nairobi focused on equitable development in Africa:

Robert S. Chen, director of the Center for Earth Science Information (CIESIN) and a senior research scientist at Columbia University's Earth Institute.

Sandra Baptista, senior research associate at CIESIN within Columbia University’s Earth Institute (; GRID3 co-investigator and country manager for Mozambique (

Host: Andy Revkin, founding director of the Earth Institute Initiative on Communication and Sustainability.

Relevant earlier Sustain What sessions:

The Pandemic Was Predicted - So What? - April 10
Alice Hill, former National Security Council official, now Council on Foreign Relations
Rod Schoonover, former National Intelligence Council analyst on environment

Coronavirus Crisis, Systems Solutions - March 18
Amy Luers, executive director of Future Earth
Col. Mark “Puck, former adviser to the US Joint Chiefs of Staff
co-author of "The New Grand Narrative