2020 UI Clarke Awards


Clarke Conversation on Imagination: Imagination, Crises and Renewal –

a Live Interactive Video Event

Thursday, November 12, 2020

9 am Pacific, noon Eastern, 5pm London, 6pm Geneva 


We celebrate imagination. But we often fail to consider the conditions that allow imagination to flourish and to be an active resource for communal conversation ̶ to use imagination as a means for understanding and renewal in our public dialogue.

In our present moment of crisis, we turn to imagination to comprehend our “now” and what could be “next”. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected and upended life nearly everywhere, throwing into high relief our collective social and economic strengths and weaknesses. Piling onto these unprecedented challenges in the U.S. and elsewhere are cries for eliminating systemic social and racial inequities. And throughout these crises, we continue to bear witness to what Arthur Clarke warned as “our planet crying out” for us to listen and take action to stem global warming. In crises of this scale and impact, imagination becomes a lifeline from the world we knew to one that we want to make better. But better how? Imagination—forward-looking imagination—becomes a vital tool to think through our values, our technologies, our social and political arrangements, our interdependencies at home, and with peoples in distant places.

The 2020 Clarke Conversation takes up the theme of crisis and imagination: how crisis makes emphatic the need to reexamine through the lens of imagination the broad sweep of our relationships, past choices, and our approach to human dignity. In this one-hour live video event, the three 2020 Clarke Awardees will reexamine and reimagine our possible futures.

2020 Clarke Awards

The Foundation will produce three videos each featuring original remarks by one of the Awardees. The videos will be available on-demand from our website in the weeks before the live Clarke Conversation.

Lifetime Achievement Awardee: William Draper, a venture capitalist pivotal in the development of Silicon Valley and prominent federal government leader (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Henry_Draper_III ).

Innovator Awardee:  CERN, The European Organization for Nuclear Research, incubator of the World Wide Web and the world’s largest particle physics laboratory. Accepting on behalf of CERN will be Dr. Fabiola Gianotti, the Director General. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CERN).

Imagination in Service to Society Awardee: Ted Chiang, much awarded writer of fiction including Hugos and Nebulas. Stories of Your Life and Others has been translated into 21 languages, and Exhalation was chosen by The New York Times as one of the 10 Best Books of 2019. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ted_Chiang).