2021 SCS Conference

Jun 46, 2021


The 2021 SCS CONFERENCE  (SCS2021)

UPDATE:  GOOD NEWS! SCS2021 WILL PROCEED AS AN IN-PERSON CONFERENCE AS PLANNED!   On April 5, the government of Washington, DC, announced that it will ease its COVID restrictions on May 1.  The new rules will allow the SCS conferece to proceed as originaly planned.  The conference will follow the COVID-19 protocols of the Washington DC Hilton, which involve social distancing, masking, etc., and are based on the applicable mandates of the DC government and recommendations of public health authorities.  The Hilton has put great effort into COVID safety. 



Here is the LIVESTREAM LINK.  The talks begin at 9 AM (ET) on Saturday June 5.  See beloe for CONFERENCE PROGRAM AND SCHEDULE.


The conference will be held at the Washington DC Hilton Hotel (1919 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, DC) on June 4-6 .  It begin with an opening reception that starts at 8:00 PM on Friday evening, June 4.  The lectures are given on Saturday morning and afternoon and on Sunday morning. The conference ends at 3:15 PM on Sunday afternoon, June 6.  (The picture above is where the Opening Reception of the conference will be.)  For COVID precautions that will be followed at the conference, see below.


The special pre-conference event for high school students and teachers called "The St. Albert Initiative," which was originally scheduled for June 4, has been postponed to the Fall, the date to be determined.  Information will be posted on the SCS website and at mcgrath.nd.edu/stalbert as it becomes available.  The St. Albret Initiative is co-sponsored by the Science and Religion Initiative of the McGrath Institute for Church Life at University of Notre Dame.


The title of the conference is “Extraterrestrials, AI, and Minds Beyond the Human."   The conference talks will focus primarily on various kinds of real or hypothetical intelligences that are not human or biologically related to humans, especially extraterrestrial intelligence and artificial intelligence.   What does science say about the prospects of extraterrestrial intelligence existing?  Would such beings be likely to be similar to us and have similar minds? What would be the implications for Catholic theology?  Is artificial intelligence possible?  Would it truly have "intellect"?  What would be its theological implications?  These and other questions will be discussed by members of the SCS and other eminent scholars from a variety of disciplines.  There will also be talks on other topics. 

Four of the invited speakers will be discussing the possibiliity of extraterrestrial life from the standpoint of astrophysics (Jonathan Lunine, Cornell), astrochemistry (Karin Öberg, Harvard), evolutionary biology (Simon Conway Morris, Cambridge), and Catholic theology (Christopher Baglow, Notre Dame).  The St. Albert Award Lecture will be given by Lawrence Principe (Johns Hopkins). The Banquet speaker will be Jennifer Wiseman (AAAS).  In addition, there will be seven contributed talks on the theme of the conference and other topics, which will be selected from submitted abstracts.  There will also be a Poster Sessions, which will have a dozen presentations, some related to the themes of the conference, and some on other topics. 


Here is the Program and Schedule.  The order of talks in the schedule is subject to change.


Here are the Biographies of Speakers  


Here is the List of Posters, including the presenters, and the poster titles and abstracts.


The conference venue (Washington DC Hilton, 1919 Connecticut Ave, NW) is 15-20 minutes by car from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and about 35 minutes by car from Dulles International Airport.  There are airport shuttles to the hotel.   BWI (Baltimore/Washington International Airport) is about a one-hour drive to the conference venue.   

A blocks of rooms for SCS conference attendees has been reserved at the hotel for the nights of June 4 and June 5.  Registered conference attendees do not have to pay for rooms at the Washington Hilton for those nights!  (See explanation under “Registration and Registration Fee” below)

PARKING:  Conerference attendees can park at the hotel for $40 per day. 


Registration is now open until May 25.  Email messages have been and periodically will be sent to all SCS Members, Student Members, Associates and Scholar Associates about registration. These messages will contain the link to the registration page and conference updates.  If you have not received such a message or need one sent again,  contact smpbarr@gmail.com    Note that only SCS Members, Student Members, Associates, Scholar Associates, and special invitees of the SCS Board are entitled to register for and attend the conference.  (Special invitees will obtain an email from the SCS President inviting them to attend.)  

Your Registration Fee will cover all your meals at the conference and also your hotel room for the nights of June 4 and June 5 (except “incidentals”).  So, besides the Registration Fee, your expenses will just be travel and parking.   

The Registration Fee (except for student members and members of religious orders) is $275 (US).  For student members it is discounted to $138 (US). Members of religious orders do not have to pay a registration fee (but must register).  

When you fill out the form on the registration page, you will be asked to enter information about what kind of hotel room you need, arrival and departure dates, etc.  When registration is complete, SCS will present a list to the hotel of registered conference attendees staying at the hotel.  SCS will be billed for those rooms (for June 4 and June 5). 

LIVE STREAMING of TALKS:  The conference talks will be live streamed.  At some point before the conference the live stream links will be posted on this page.  Anyone will be able to watch the talks by going to those links, without any registration or fee.

COVID-19 PRECAUTIONS: The conference will follow the COVID guidlines of public health authorities.  Those who are not fully vaccinated will have to distancie.  The present rules of the Hilton Hotel require masking for all. Attendees are urged to get vaccinated before the conference if possible, especially if they are in the most vulnerable categories.  

More information will be posted here as it becomes available.