In What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night, also edited by John Brockman, 150 thinkers from frontier areas of study such as evolutionary biology, genetics, computer science, neurophysiology, and more shared their worries. In this book, Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, collects the responses of 250 of the world's leading scientists, artists, and theorists to the following prompt: "Ask 'The Last Question,' your last question, the question, for which you will be remembered."
Historian Daniel Boorstein called human beings "the asking animal."
And he would definitely agree with humorist James Thurber who wrote
that it is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.
Here are some of the questions deemed most important in The Last Unknowns:
- "Will the appearance of new species of talented computational intelligence result in improving the moral behavior of persons and societies?"
— Mahzarin Banaji, Preacher of Social Ethics in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University
- "Why are we so often kind to strangers when nobody is watching and we have nothing to gain?"
— Paul Bloom, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Science at Yale University
- "Will we pass our audition as planetary managers?"
— David Christian, Director of Big History Institute
- "Why be good?"
— Oliver Scott Curry, Senior Researcher and director of The Oxford Morals Project
- "Will humans ever embrace their own diversity?"
— Daniel L. Everett, Linguistic Researcher
- "What knowledge and know-how are our descendants at risk of forgetting as our species passes through future evolutionary bottlenecks?."
— William Grassie, Interdisciplinary scholar
- "What will happen to religion on Earth when the first alien life form is found?"
— Kai Krause, Software Pioneer
- "How can we empower the better angels of our nature?"
— Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology at Harvard University
- "What does justice feel like?"
— Jennifer Richeson, Professor of Psychology at Yale University