A-list actor and director Robert Downey Jr announced plans to launch a new non-profit organisation, The Footprint Coalition, at Amazon’s re:MARS AI conference in Las Vegas on Tuesday evening.
The project, scheduled to be officially launched by April 2020, will use advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) to help improve the environment by cleaning up the planet.
Downey Jr, who Forbes estimates to have a net-worth of $81 million, said his initial idea, which he describes as a “kumbaya pipedream”, came about as a result of speaking with experts on the topic two months ago.
“I said ‘let’s commit to a process, let’s fund a coalition, I’m all in’. And that did not get the inspiring reaction I expected. It was dead silence, it was a lead balloon,” he said.
Despite this lacklustre response, he decided to go ahead with the project after realising that “dedicating myself to maybe a small part of making good on that statement, even in abject failure, would still be the best idea I’ve ever had.”
He added: “I’m here to announce, against all sound advice and from wildly humbling beginnings, the Footprint Coalition. It took 11 years to complete three Marvel phases and I’m willing to spend the next 11 years making good on that statement, that between robotics and nanotechnology we can probably clean up the planet significantly, if not entirely, within a decade.
“I’m going to spend the next months putting this together correctly and getting actual smart people around me,” he said during his talk. “In 11 years, when I’m 65, if we’ve made even a little dent in what I think is a massive threat to our future and the mess we leave behind, I’m going to come back and throw the nuttiest retirement party you’ve ever seen.”
The actor’s announcement came at the end of his talk about AI, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Downey Jr’s own career and the evolution of his Iron Man character, Tony Stark. During his talk, Amazon’s Alexa and Matt Damon – via video link – made cameo appearances.
Downey Jr said that the state of the environment gave him “this quiet sense of crisis” admitting he had contributed more than most to the climate crisis. “I’m a one-man carbon footprint nightmare colossus,” he said.
At the end of the talk, a website for the project went live; however, Downey Jr provided no details on how the group would achieve its goal.