RIYADH: The second edition of the Riyadh Philosophy Conference launched on Thursday as international and local specialists gathered to discuss topics under the theme “Knowledge and Exploration: Space, Time and Humanity.”
Organized by Saudi Arabia’s Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission, the three-day event kicked off with welcome remarks by Saudi critic, thinker and translator Saad bin Abdulrahman Albazie, who was introduced by the CEO of the commission, Mohammed Alwan.
With participation from over 19 countries, the global platform targets a wide audience from various academic and professional backgrounds.
“We are heading toward endless informational and explorational horizons, toward space, time and humanity, and settling into our human fate, moral values and scientific criteria of the universe,” Albazie said.
“We will create a philosophical space out of our physical space, and propose new concepts in an undiscovered field in the spirit of entrepreneurial research that has been touched upon by this conference’s esteemed guests.”
While taking a trip to space is, undoubtedly, a dream for many, it may well be a place we call “home” much sooner than we think.
A keynote speech by Mishaal Ashemimry, moderated by Prof. Nicolas de Warren of Penn State University, examined the futuristic concept of humanity becoming an interplanetary species.
Discussing humanity’s options if Earth is no longer accommodating or habitable, Ashemimry, special adviser to the CEO at the Saudi Space Commission, said: “We must prepare for our future because no one knows. Yes, we can monitor all these items that are orbiting Earth, but there are so many that we don’t know about.
“I’m not suggesting that this is the only way. I am suggesting that we need to hedge our bets, invest in all the technologies necessary and all the possible solutions to prevent this existential problem — whether it’s going to Mars or preparing to go to Mars, or whether it’s intercepting that asteroid, and having mechanisms to detect it sooner and enable us to have enough time.”
The conversation around space continued with Abdullah Al-Ghathami, professor of criticism and theory at King Saud University, delivering a keynote speech under the title “Humanity in Space: Glory or Power.”
Leading thinkers took part in panel discussions, including “Inquiry Techniques in the Classroom” by General Manager of the Baseera Institute Dalia Toonsi, and “Chaos and Logos” with physicist Reem Taibah and Saudi Space Commission adviser Haithem Al-Twaijry.
This year’s conference is building off the success of last year’s event, which discussed unpredictability.
The forum aims to open up the once-taboo study of philosophy in the region by involving contemporary philosophers, scientists, writers and intellectuals from all over the world.
Discussions in the coming days will focus on the status of contemporary science, the complexities of space diplomacy and climate change, justice and ethics in exploration, and the dilemmas of artificial intelligence.