Bulletin’s sold-out event attracts global audience for conversations on man-made risks

By | November 29, 2021

Sharon Squassoni interviews Rose Gottemoeller

Nearly 300 international guests joined the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ recent sold-out Conversations Before Midnight marquee event. The Nov. 9 virtual experience provided participants direct access to more than two dozen leading analysts and policy makers in nuclear risk, climate change, disruptive technologies, and biosecurity for an evening of small-group discussions. 

“Conversations Before Midnight is the Bulletin’s signature annual event and provides the opportunity to connect our network of world-renowned experts to a global audience that is determined to reduce man-made threats to humanity,” said Rachel Bronson, the Bulletin’s president and CEO. “We’re grateful we can provide the platform for small-group conversations that grapple with the most important issues of our day.” 

The signature event, sponsored in part by Axiom Consulting Partners, included:

  • Luis Bettencourt, inaugural Director of the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago, Professor of Ecology and Evolution at the College. 
  • Alina Chan, postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. 
  • Robert Latiff, retired US Air Force Major General, private consultant, and faculty member at the University of Notre Dame and at George Mason University. 
  • William J. Perry, 19th Secretary of Defense for the United States. 
  • Ray Pierrehumbert, Halley Professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Planetary Physics at the University of Oxford. 
  • Valerie Plame, former covert CIA officer and bestselling author. 
  • Camille Stewart, global head of Product Security Strategy at Google.

Rose Gottemoeller, former deputy secretary general of NATO, and Sharon Squassoni, incoming co-chair of the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board, provided a keynote conversation on recent weapons-program developments in China, the deteriorating arms control landscape, and the future of NATO. (Watch the replay at Conversations Before Midnight 2021 keynote.) 

“We need to keep a sharp eye on developments [in China] … technologically, they seem to be surging ahead with hypersonics for example.” said Gottemoeller, currently the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. “We need to pay attention at all levels, but we don’t need to panic.” 

Conversations Before Midnight 2021 honored Robert Rosner for his contributions to the Bulletin’s Science and Security Board including serving as its chair. Rosner is the William E. Wrather Distinguished Service Professor in the Departments of Astronomy & Astrophysics and Physics, and the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. 

Jake Tibbetts was also honored as the 2020 Leonard M. Rieser Award recipient for his article, “Keeping classified information secret in a world of quantum computing.” Tibbetts, an engineer and policy researcher, said he “wanted to look at the intersection between quantum computing and national security because I really felt like this was a very misunderstood issue at the time.”

Related: Watch Rob Rosner and Jake Tibbetts remarks at Conversations Before Midnight 2021.

The Rieser Award is the capstone of the Bulletin’s Next Generation Program, created to ensure that new voices steeped in science and public policy have a trusted platform from which to address existential challenges. It is named for physicist Leonard M. Rieser (1922-1998), who was board chair at the Bulletin from 1984 to 1998. 

About the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Founded in 1945 by Manhattan Project scientists, the Bulletin equips the public, policymakers, and scientists with the information needed to reduce man-made threats to human existence. At its core, it is a media organization, posting free articles on its website and publishing a premium digital magazine. The Bulletin focuses on three main areas: nuclear risk, climate change, and disruptive technologies.  Learn more at TheBulletin.org. 



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Simon O'Rourke-Gomez
Simon O'Rourke-Gomez
2 years ago

I can’t see the video of the event — is there a quick link to it? Thank you!