Watch Noam Chomsky & Lawrence Krauss Talk About Education, Political Activism, Technology & More Before a Sold-Out Crowd

Found­ed and direct­ed by physi­cist Lawrence Krauss, Ari­zona State’s Ori­gins Project has for sev­er­al years brought togeth­er some of the biggest minds in the sci­ences and human­i­ties for friend­ly debates and con­ver­sa­tions about “the 21st Century’s great­est chal­lenges.” Pre­vi­ous all-star pan­els have includ­ed Krauss, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, Bri­an Greene, and Richard Dawkins. Stephen Hawk­ing has graced the ASU Ori­gins Project stage, as has actor and sci­ence com­mu­ni­ca­tor Alan Alda. And this past March, in a sold-out, high­ly-antic­i­pat­ed Ori­gins Project event, Krauss wel­comed Noam Chom­sky to the stage for a lengthy inter­view, which you can watch above.

Although Krauss says he’s wary of hero wor­ship in his lauda­to­ry intro­duc­tion, he nonethe­less finds him­self ask­ing “What Would Noam Chom­sky Do” when faced with a dilem­ma. He also points out that Chom­sky has been “mar­gin­al­ized in U.S. media” for his anti-war, anar­chist polit­i­cal views. Those views, of course, come wide­ly into play dur­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, which ranges from the the­o­ry and pur­pose of education—a sub­ject Chom­sky has expound­ed on a great deal in books and inter­views—to the fate of polit­i­cal dis­si­dents through­out his­to­ry.

Chom­sky also gives us his views on sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the Q&A por­tion of the talk above, in which he answers ques­tions about arti­fi­cial intel­li­gence—anoth­er sub­ject he’s touched on in the past—and ani­mal exper­i­men­ta­tion, among a great many oth­er top­ics. Krauss most­ly hangs back dur­ing the ini­tial dis­cus­sion but takes a more active role in the ses­sion above, offer­ing views on med­ical and sci­en­tif­ic ethics that will be famil­iar to those who fol­low his athe­ist activism and cham­pi­oning of ratio­nal­i­ty over reli­gious dog­ma.

What you won’t see in the video above is a con­ver­sa­tion Chom­sky and Krauss had with Moth­er­board’s Daniel Ober­haus, who caught up with both thinkers dur­ing the ASU event to get their take on what he calls “anoth­er great space race.” As Ober­haus makes clear, the cur­rent com­pe­ti­tion is not nec­es­sar­i­ly between glob­al super­pow­ers, but—as with so much mod­ern research and development—between pub­lic and pri­vate enti­ties, such as NASA and Space X. As we briefly dis­cussed in a post yes­ter­day on the huge amount of pub­lic domain space pho­tog­ra­phy freely avail­able for use, pri­vate space explo­ration makes research pro­pri­etary, mit­i­gat­ing the poten­tial pub­lic ben­e­fits of gov­ern­ment pro­grams.

As Chom­sky puts it, “the envi­ron­ment, the com­mons… they’re a com­mon pos­ses­sion, but space is even more so. For indi­vid­u­als to allow insti­tu­tions like cor­po­ra­tions to have any con­trol over it is dev­as­tat­ing in its con­se­quences. It will also almost cer­tain­ly under­mine seri­ous research.” He refers to the exam­ple of most mod­ern computing—developed under pub­licly-fund­ed gov­ern­ment pro­grams, then mar­ket­ed and sold back to us by cor­po­ra­tions. Krauss makes a case for unmanned space explo­ration as the cost-effec­tive option, and both thinkers dis­cuss the prob­lem of mil­i­ta­riz­ing space, the ulti­mate goal of Cold War space pro­grams before the fall of the Sovi­et Union. The con­ver­sa­tion is rich and reveal­ing and makes an excel­lent sup­ple­ment to the already rich dis­cus­sion Krauss and Chom­sky have in the videos above.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Ori­gins Project Brings Togeth­er Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Bill Nye, Ira Fla­tow, and More on One Stage

Noam Chom­sky Spells Out the Pur­pose of Edu­ca­tion

Noam Chom­sky Explains Where Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Went Wrong

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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