The August 1 article on Jamie Metzl's genetic engineering talk was excellent, but it did not mention that it was sponsored by the Livermore Science and Society Center. Here is why we did.

Technology has always been a double-edged sword, going back the earliest tools and weapons millennia ago. I’ve worked most of my career on fossil energy extraction and nuclear weapons, and I’ve thought about this a lot.

We are now entering the fourth industrial revolution, and the implications of technology are increasingly pervasive. Exploring those implications is one of reasons Monya Lane, Vaughn Draggoo, Jay Davis, and I are leading the Livermore Science and Society Center to build a science center across the street and just a few feet from the first transcontinental railroad—a product of the steam engine, which drove the first industrial revolution. That railroad was the transformational technology of its day, and the first train steamed through Livermore 150 years ago. Then there was the second revolution (steel, electricity, telecommunication, assembly lines, and automobiles) and the third (electronics and computers, automation, the internet, and antibiotics) and now the fourth (artificial intelligence, 3D printing, autonomous vehicles, nanotechnology, and biotechnology).

Livermore and the Tri-Valley have connections to all these revolutions, not to mention that we are one of only seven cities having an element named after us.

How will we adapt to this world that changes at an increasingly fast pace? The Livermore Science and Society Center can help. We envision a center where people of all ages and educational levels can explore and touch the scientific discoveries and rapid technological advances around us—a center that will help inform the science behind the headlines and provide forums for carrying out conversations about the defining scientific and societal challenges of our time. Solutions to the most vexing challenges facing us (from environmental change and sustainability, cyber security and privacy, energy security, biology and precision medicine) require integration of scientific and engineering knowledge with the important perspectives and expertise of the social sciences and humanities.

We were grateful to the Rae Dorough Speaker Series for the opportunity to co-sponsor our very first LSSC speaker — a timely topic that epitomizes the challenges we face.