Actor Robert Downey Jr. has been known for his role in Iron Man movie; as Tony Stark. Although Iron Man/Tony Stark has “retired” in the last movie, it seems that his world-saving alter-ego of Tony Stark still lives to make a real impact on the environment. Downey Jr. just launched Footprint Coalition, a group dedicated to using “advanced technologies for the good of the environment,” such as robotics and nanotechnology. He unveiled his plan while delivering the opening keynote for Amazon’s Re: Mars conference in Las Vegas on June 8, 2019.
His big technological plan is to save the world from climate change and other environmental disasters. “Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,” says Downey Jr. Why would he start the cause? The 54-year-old actor confessed that he’s concerned about the environment. “I have this quiet sense of crisis,” he said, acknowledging that his lifestyle has been less than environmentally-friendly, according to Variety. “I’m a one-man carbon footprint nightmare colossus.”
“I was at a table with super-smart, impressive, expert folks about six months ago, and the following statement was: ‘Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could probably clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,” says Downey Jr. “Being essentially a 54-year-old child, I said, ‘Let’s do it! Let’s commit to a process; let’s form a coalition.’ And that did not inspire the reaction I expected. It was dead silence.” Still, the Actor and Producer didn’t give up and set up a new organisation, the Footprint Coalition.
Downey Jr said that even making a small dent could be the most important thing he had ever done. Although the coalition’s website went live right after he left the stage to ask people to sign up to a newsletter, we are surely eager and support the real initiative to clean up the earth from the one and only Iron Man, in the movie, and real life.
The initiative will reportedly launch in April 2020. “Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not, in 10 years,” said Downey Jr., adding that he’d been speaking with experts about the plan, according to Variety. “God I love experts. They’re like Wikipedia with character defects.” Downey Jr. is also currently working on an eight-episode YouTube docu-series about A.I. which scheduled to air sometime in 2019.
How Does Nanotechnology Clean Earth?
Nanotechnology manipulates matter at the atomic and molecular level. It could help to protect the environment and curb the climate crisis. Some examples include improving the efficiency of solar panels, generating less pollution during manufacturing, cleaning up oil spills, and creating stronger, lighter materials. But one of the most exciting potential applications for nanotechnology, concerning the environment, lies in using nanomaterials to convert CO2 to make products.
“Nanomaterials can convert carbon dioxide into useful products like alcohol,” Arun Chattopadhyay, a member of the chemistry faculty at the Center for Nanotechnology, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, tells Scientific American. “The materials could be simple chemical catalysts or photochemical in nature that works in the presence of sunlight.”
But the main problem with this approach — and with most nanotechnology strategies — is cost; it’s still unclear how to make nanotechnology economically viable. What’s more, the extremely tiny scale of nanoparticles raises unique questions about potential health risks. Still, it’s entirely possible researchers will find ways to surpass both of these barriers as nanotechnology continues to get cheaper.
Susan Downey, wife of Downey Jr. also will help on this project by producing a YouTube series about artificial intelligence, which will be broadcast on YouTube Red.
“We are excited to be in business with the smart, creative minds behind this innovative new series,” says Susanne Daniels, global head of original content at YouTube. “There is so much to discover, and this series will take us on a fascinating journey as we explore the exciting developments in the world of A.I. and glimpse into the future.”
Susan Downey said she hopes the series will show artificial intelligence in a new and exciting light. “Robert and I share a curiosity for A.I., a complicated and often polarising subject. We aim to explore A.I. through a lens of objectivity and accessibility, in a thoroughly bold, splashy, and entertaining way,” she says.