FILE — Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield presented the history of Canada for his Canada 150 tour at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre in May. (Carli Berry/Black Press)

Astronaut Chris Hadfield reflects on technology, privilege and responsibility

Canadian is in the Kootenays to speak at the Columbia Basin Symposium

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield is in the Kootenays to speak at the Columbia Basin Symposium this weekend.

Friday morning Hadfield spent half an hour talking to the media. He started out the conversation by responding to a question about what kind of messages he would like to pass on to young people.

“The things we accomplish in life are kind of a reflection of the edges of our expectations,” he said. “Often our accomplishments in life are sort of limited by the horizons we have seen growing up. A large part as one of Canada’s astronauts where I have had tremendous privilege, but also a pretty amazing perspective — is to let other people perhaps see opportunities that they might not have realized existed.”

When Hadfield speaks to students in Cranbrook later on Friday, he said he will feel his talk is successful if, “…the students come away with a slightly expanded view of the world and their place in it.”

He also spoke about the advantages that human invention has brought to the world.

“We are at an absolute zenith of quality of life around the world,” said Hadfield. He listed the eradication or near eradication of diseases such as smallpox and polio and the jump in global literacy rates.

“It’s technology and human inventiveness that allow those types of things to happen,” added Hadfield. “I think that is something to focus on … What do we need to do next and where should we be focusing?”

“What should people be doing here in the Columbia Basin next week? Thinking about their role within the province, their role within Canada, and Canada’s role within the world. To me, that is really the focus of what we ought to be looking at.

“When you get to ride on some of the most cutting-edge technology and see the world in a way we have never seen it before, makes you think about all of those opportunities but also responsibilities. With privilege, which I have been lucky to receive so much of, comes, I think, also a great level of responsibility.”

Hadfield spoke to the fact that technology can only go so far — it takes humans to interpret the facts in a meaningful way.

“Exploration isn’t just scientific and technical, it’s human — otherwise we would just send robots to do it,” he said. “Robots don’t care — we are the ones that matter. To have people interpreting what is happening is what is of real value and interest.”

“Onboard the space station it seems a little remote and technical and clinical, but it is actually just six people up there,” explained Hadfield. “They are imperfect and doing their best and they are six emissaries of the other seven and a half billion on the surface.”

Hadfield was happy to come to this corner of Canada, and as a skier, he said he was looking outside and wishing the snow was falling heavier.

“The Columbia Basin Trust that you folks have — what a lovely legacy, what an enabling organization in order for people to see beyond just the regular day-to-day,” said Hadfield of the organization that is sponsoring the event and asked him to be their keynote speaker.

The symposium — SHIFT! Thriving in Change — is taking place in Kimberley, but will be streaming online at symposium.ourtrust.org/live/.

Just Posted

Ageing safely with medications

Local pharmacist presents information at seniors centre

Natural gas project nears completion

Enbridge’s new compressor unit upgrades equipment along Highway 24

Morning Dec. 14: Foggy weather, low chance of precipitation

The morning weather and roads for the South Cariboo

Do you agree with the NDP government’s approval of Site C Dam?

100 Mile Free Press took to the streets to ask community members what they think

Churches unite to host community Christmas dinner

Front Porch and carols for entertainment

VIDEO: Average Canadian food bill to rise by $348 in 2018

Atlantic Canada and B.C. will see the most increases for consumers

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

Border officers rally at B.C.’s Peace Arch

CBSA employees tire of ‘lack of respect’

FCC votes along party lines to end ‘net neutrality’

Move rolls back restrictions that keep big providers from blocking services they don’t like

Family of Vancouver Island RCMP officer killed by drunk driver sues

Lawsuit seeks financial compensation from Kenneth Jacob Fenton

SPCA seizes 74 animals from Barriere property

Constables removed sheep, piglets, chickens and more

Penticton addiction recovery centre plan halted by neighbours

Recovery centre operator said neighbours bought property ‘in haste’

No charges against BC RCMP officer for in-custody death

Conclusion of investigation into the actions of the officer from Valentine’s Day 2015.

Victoria gets approval for supervised consumption site

It is scheduled to open in the spring/summer of 2018 and will be the first permanent facility on Vancouver Island

Most Read