Emerging Tech

Robert Downey Jr. embraces his inner Tony Stark to save the world for real

In a move that sounds like it’s been ripped straight out of an Iron Man movie, big-screen Avenger Robert Downey Jr. has unveiled the Footprint Coalition, an organization that will use robotics and nanotechnology to help the environment and battle climate change.

Downey took the stage at Amazon’s artificial intelligence-focused Re:Mars conference to deliver a 20-minute presentation during which Downey’s Marvel alter-ego would’ve been right at home. In addition to announcing the Footprint Coalition, which is expected to launch in April 2020, Downey’s speech was peppered with both big ideas, Amazon Alexa riffs, and Tony Stark-worthy quips. “God I love experts,” Downey said at one point, according to Variety. “They’re like Wikipedia with character defects.”

Still, saving the Earth was Downey’s primary focus. “I have this quiet sense of crisis” about climate change, the actor admitted. “Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years.”

Downey did not share any of the Footprint Coalition’s specific plans. The organization’s website launched after the presentation, but it contains little more than a newsletter sign-up form at the moment.

This isn’t the first time that Downey has used his superhero clout to try and advance causes that would be near and dear to Iron Man’s mechanical heart. Downey and his wife announced that they were producing a YouTube Premium series about artificial intelligence in 2018, while the actor offered to voice Mark Zuckerberg’s A.I. butler in exchange for a donation to a charity of Downey’s Avengers: Infinity War co-stars’ choosing.

Naturally, other organizations already have plans to use A.I. and technology to save the environment. Scientists at the Queensland University of Technology recently unveiled an underwater drone designed to heal Australia’s coral reefs, while Microsoft has earmarked $ 50 million for its A.I. for Earth program. At last month’s Collision Conference in Toronto, venture capitalists outlined the ways that they’re investing in startups that will combat the world’s ills, including climate change.

Of course, none of those other groups have Earth’s mightiest heroes backing them up. If Downey’s tech-based efforts don’t pan out, maybe he can give Doctor Strange a call. After all, things are getting dire. A little magic couldn’t hurt.

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