On June 4, “Avengers: Endgame” star Robert Downey Jr. gave a keynote speech at Amazon’s inaugural Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space (Re:MARS) conference. The actor gave a 20-minute address in which he talked about his career, his acclaimed role as inventor-superhero Tony Stark, and world-changing artificial intelligence (AI).
Downey Jr. concluded his remarks at the Las Vegas-based event with a surprise announcement. He’s launching a new environmental technology initiative called Footprint Coalition.
Robert Downey Jr: "Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years" https://t.co/hrzpTLkK29
— Variety (@Variety) June 5, 2019
The Footprint Coalition
Downey Jr. explained that he became concerned about climate change as a result of becoming an international superstar. The performer, who travels around the world to promote the blockbuster Marvel Cinematic Universe film franchise, described himself as “a one-man carbon footprint nightmare colossus.”
While looking to address his guilt, Downey Jr. spoke to a panel of technology experts. In doing so, he learned about the latest advances in AI, nanotechnology, and robotics. As a result of those discussions, the “Iron Man” actor began to feel hopeful about humanity’s future.
Subsequently, Downey Jr. founded the Footprint Coalition to use technological solutions to combat the global environmental crisis.
Though the Academy Award-nominated actor didn’t discuss the organization’s methods or resources, he did touch on its mission statement. “Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,” said Downey Jr.
The Footprint Coalition’s website is live now and hosts a newsletter sign-up form. Downey Jr. said his organization would begin operations in April 2020.
Other Re:MARS Highlights
Robert Downey Jr. becoming his most famous cinematic alter ego isn’t the only notable event coming out of Re:MARS. On June 6, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was confronted by a protester while having a discussion with Jenny Freshwater, Amazon’s forecasting lead. Priya Sawhney, a member of animal rights organization Direct Action Everywhere (DXE), stormed the stage to demand Bezos, “help the animals.”
Before being ushered away by security, Sawhney asked Bezos to crack down on alleged animal abuses at the Petaluma Poultry and Pitman Family Farms. Those two facilities provide Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods with chicken and turkey. DXE alleges Petaluma and Pitman keep their animals in cramped, inhumane conditions. Las Vegas police arrested Sawhney for trespassing after she disrupted the presentation.
Befitting his status as one of the world’s richest men, Bezos did not react to being confronted by an activist. After security guards escorted the protester away, the billionaire coolly asked Freshwater, “Where were we?” The pair went on to discuss Bezos’ plans to make Amazon more efficient and to bring his Blue Origin spacecraft to the moon.