Robert Downey Jr. well-known for his performances as Tony Stark, the coarse scientific genius behind Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He doesn’t claim to be such a genius in real life, but in a keynote presentation to an audience at Amazon’s public Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics, and Space (MARS) tech conference in Las Vegas, he announced that he does have an ambition to assist technological and environmental experts in cleaning up the climate crisis.
According to Business Insider, his plan is to launch the Footprint Coalition, an organization whose goal is to use AI and Machine Learning to clean up the Earth over the next decade. The project doesn’t even have a website yet, but Downey Jr. promises it will be launched by April 2020.
“Recently, I was at a table with supersmart, impressive, expert folks about six months ago, and the following statement was made: ‘Between robotics and technology, we could probably clean up the planet significantly, if not entirely, within a decade,'” he said, prompting the room to burst into applause. “Being essentially a 54-year-old child, I said: ‘Let’s do it! Let’s commit to a process, let’s form a coalition,'” he said. “And that did not inspire the reaction I expected. It was dead silence.”
The silence he met was a result of the tech experts’ understanding of the barriers they would meet on such an ambitious path. Overcoming stifled bureaucracy, sharing intellectual property, and attempting to cooperate with the government will all be huge hurdles in the race against climate change. Experts on the technology know that it’s theoretically possible, but are cynical about empirical application do to governmental and corporate resistance and red tape. Having a celebrity on the front lines, however, can’t hurt.
“I know it’s a kumbaya-type dream. It’s a logistical clusterfuck,” he said. “I’m down with dedicating myself to maybe one small part of making good on that statement, even in abject failure, it’s still the best idea I’ve ever had.”