Actor Robert Downey Jr. used his part of the opening keynote for Amazon’s Re:Mars conference in Las Vegas Tuesday evening to announce the launch of a new organization that is committed to using advanced technologies for the good of the environment. The Footprint Coalition, as the group is called, is scheduled to officially launch by April of 2020.
“Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,” Downey Jr. said, relaying that he had been given these insights a few weeks back by a roundtable of experts. “God I love experts. They’re like Wikipedia with character defects,” he joked during his talk.
The announcement came at the end of a 20+ minute freewheeling talk about artificial intelligence, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Downey Jr.’s own career and the evolution of his Tony Stark character, which featured cameos from Amazon’s AI assistant Alexa as well as Matt Damon, who joined via video.
The actor and director didn’t share any details on how the organization was going to achieve its goal, but said that even making a small dent could be the most important thing he had ever done. A website for the group went live after he left the stage, but currently features little more than a newsletter sign-up form.
Throughout his talk, Downey Jr. painted AI as a significant technological advancement that gave him hope — only to admit that he also found himself alarmed over the state of the environment. “I have this quiet sense of crisis,” he said, admitting that he had contributed more than others to the climate crisis. “I’m a one-man carbon footprint nightmare colossus,” he said.
This isn’t the first time Downey Jr. has taken AI and other advanced technologies beyond the role of his Marvel character Tony Stark. Together with his wife Susan Downey, Downey Jr. has also been producing a docu-series about AI for YouTube. The eight episode, hour-long series, which was first announced a year ago, is meant to explore AI and the impact it will have on people’s lives.
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