Clinton's worldview: part two
By Lara Wozniak 14 September 2005
The second part of former US President Clinton's keynote address to CLSA's Investor Forum in Hong Kong this Monday
From president to president, do you pass along a list of secrets - you know like where's Jimmy Hoffa? What really happened at Roswell? Without giving away any state secrets, is there something that we can all look forward to in the future to read about that you know that we don't know that will make reading the National Enquirer required reading?
(Laughing and blushing) Well I don't know if you all heard this, but, there was actually, when I was president in my second term, there was an anniversary observance of Roswell. Remember that? People came to Roswell, New Mexico from all over the world. And there was also a site in Nevada where people were convinced that the government had buried a UFO and perhaps an alien deep underground because we wouldn't allow anybody to go there. And uhm… I can say now, 'cause it's now been released into the public domain. I had so many people in my own administration that were convinced that Roswell was a fraud but this place in Nevada was really serious, that there was an alien artefact there. So I actually sent somebody there to figure it out. And it was actually just a secret defence installation, alas, doing boring work that we didn't want anybody to else see.
So let me give you a serious thing, though. In 2000, I was able to participate with Tony Blair and representatives of the French, German and Japanese and Canadian governments in announcing that we had succeeded in sequencing the human genome. Perhaps some of you have investments in all these bio-development companies and now you know that we cloned Dolly the sheep and apparently they may have cloned a dog. And my own view is that assuming we don't do something stupid like burn ourselves up with the global warming or blow ourselves up with a military conflict that we could have just as easily avoid, I think a lot of these bio-technology issues will be the dominant sort of intellectual and ethical challenges of the lives of those of you who are 10, 20, 30 years younger than I am.
Because I think that we are going to be able to save peoples' lives that, you know, in my generation couldn't be saved. And we are going to come up against the limits of our own mortality in a way we never could before. And a lot of the things that happen - good and bad - will be stranger than anything ever written in science fiction. But I don't know the answers, which is one reason I would like to live to be 100 just to see what happens. (Laughter)
So that means there's a list? Or no list? (More laughter - that drowns out his question.)
What? What did you say? I don't know what you said, but you should have said, 'There's absolutely no risk of that. Given my misspent youth, I'm lucky to be here now.'
What I did say was, is there really no list? Or is there a list?
If there is one, I don't know it. The Roswell thing, I think, really was an illusion. I don't think it happened. I mean I think there are rational explanations and I did attempt to find out if there were any secret government documents that revealed things. If there were, they were concealed from me too. And if there were, well I wouldn't be the first American president that underlings have lied to, or that career bureaucrats have waited out. But there may be some career person sitting around somewhere, hiding these dark secrets, even from elected presidents. But if so, they successfully eluded me…and I'm almost embarrassed to tell you I did (chuckling) try to find out.
(Laughter and applause.)
I do believe, by the way - one more flaky thing - you can also be flaky when you're out of office. I believe that now that we know that there are not hundreds, not millions but billions of other solar systems out there, thanks to the Hubble telescope and what we know about black holes of the universe, and all of that, the dimensions of physics are such that I would be quite surprised if in the lifetimes of people that are no older than 30 years old, we don't discover some form of life in another universe.
It's pretty clear that there was something approaching elemental life on Mars at one time in the past, based on what we discovered there. So I say that, only to say this: I hope all of you, wherever you live, will continue to support space exploration, whether manned or unmanned, it's not so important, but that we keep doing it. And I'm afraid that there will be a waning interest in it, in the future. I think that's a great mistake. I think we should continue to explore the boundaries of our existence, both into the earth and beyond the skies.
When I was president we discovered in the bottom of the Amazon River, (we were just a small part of this, but we discovered) two previously undiscovered forms of marine life so deep in the Amazon that they had never been found, in all the efforts of marine biologists.
So I think that there are a lot of interesting discoveries - biological, on earth and other discoveries in the heavens that those of you who are younger will get to see unfold. You'll have all kinds of problems with them, but on balance it'll be a plus. And it'll make life much more interesting.