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January 10, 2017

President Bachelet at the 6th Congress of the Future: “We must build more bridges, more collaborative work”

At the inauguration of the 6th Congress of the Future, which brings together prominent scientists and humanists from around the world, the President of Chile, Michelle Bachelet, announced that she will sign the bill creating the Ministry of Science and Technology, which will place “human beings at the center of development”

In the Honor Hall of the Former National Congress, President Bachelet, along with the presidents of the Senate, Ricardo Lagos Weber, and the Senate Commission “Challenges of the Future”, Guido Girardi, as well as the astronomer and winner of the National Award for Exact Sciences, Maria Teresa Ruiz, this morning inaugurated the 6th Congress of the Future. This meeting brings together prominent scientists and humanists from around the world whose central theme this year is “The future is in all our hands”.

Referring to the focus of discussion at this meeting, the President said she “could not agree more with this statement. Because, first of all, the future is not something written on our calendars or on our watches. It is, more than anything, the range of possibilities of our human life, that only exists in common and in the plural”. She added that “the more we share the future, the more all-encompassing it becomes. That is why we must build more bridges, more collaborative work between science, politics, industry, civil society and the educational system. Not just to better understand our possibilities, but to build them, turning ourselves into agents of change.”

The Congress of the Future was created in 2011 to celebrate the Bicentennial of the Chilean Congress, promoted by the Senate Commission on Challenges of the Future in conjunction with the Chilean Science Academy and the Government.

This sixth Congress will be held between January 9 and 14, with the participation of more than 100 expositors. There will be 30 panels and 4 master lectures, as well as activities in 11 of the country’s Regions, namely the Metropolitan, Valparaíso, Los Ríos, Biobío, O’Higgins, Coquimbo, Maule, Antofagasta, Aysén, Los Lagos and Magallanes. Some of the topics to be addressed include the edition of life, plant intelligence, inhabitable exoplanets, human settlements, social changes and the impact of the increased use of robots on the job market, brain mapping, artificial intelligence, the cure for neurodegenerative diseases and advances in nanotechnology.

President Bachelet appreciated the contribution made by this Congress, which stimulates conversations on the future of Chile that are open to the public, with their interests, concerns and languages.

Her speech raised many thought-provoking questions: “In a country such as ours, to prepare now for this future, we must ask ourselves what production model we could use to replace the extraction and export of raw materials. How we envisage the workplace in our society, what space we will give to science and the arts in our lives. What importance we attach to leisure and recreation. How we think our cities will grow. What our relationship should be with the environment and other living species. How we will define our collaboration and our communication.”

Likewise, she added that “I have no doubt that most of the answers lie within the educational system, focusing on the central attention it deserves, as an egalitarian space in which children can develop the tools and skills for personal realization, but also as a space to create community, to share our human diversity and to define common horizons. I believe that this is, in large part, what Chile has agreed as a country. We have decided to give priority to education, with strong public investment, intervening directly in the area where it fails most seriously: universal access to quality education.”

During her presentation, the President announced that she would sign the bill creating the Ministry of Science and Technology next Monday. She said that “this is a bill with a sense of future for Chile. It balances the sciences on the one hand, but also the humanities and the arts, defined as a space in which to freely search for truth and knowledge. At the same time it is open to Chile’s challenges and need for development” and seeks “to place human beings in the center of development; and the engine driving this development is, precisely, knowledge and creativity.”

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