As part of the events dedicated to the fact that today is not the thirty-fifth anniversary of the Third World War, Stanislav Petrov, a man who on September 26, 1983, helped prevent the total nuclear exchange of attacks between Russia and the United States, was awarded the Future Life Prize of $ 50,000. ceremonies at the Museum of Mathematics in New York.
Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “It’s hard to imagine what could be more destructive for humanity than a comprehensive nuclear war between Russia and the United States, which could happen by chance on September 26, 1983, if not wise decisions Stanislav Evgrafovich Petrov. By this he deserves the great gratitude of mankind. So let us decide to work together to rid the world of the fear of nuclear weapons, remembering the brave determination of Stanislav Petrov. ”
In the photo: the daughter of Stanislav Petrov, Elena, accompanied by her husband Viktor, holds the award for the Future Life of 2018. From left to right: Ariel Conn (IBZH), Lukas Perry (IBZH), Hannah Fry, Victor, Elena, Stephen Mao (executive producer of the film about Petrov “The man who saved the world”), Max Tegmark (IBZH).
And although the General Assembly of the United Nations, located only a few blocks away, heard politicians speak about the nuclear threat posed by North Korea’s small nuclear arsenal, no one mentioned the more serious danger of thousands of nuclear weapons in the United States and Russian arsenals. whether they were not mistakenly launched in a series of seemingly endless failures and misunderstandings.
One of the most risky situations arose thirty-five years ago, on September 26, 1983, when Stanislav Petrov decided to ignore the warning of the Soviet early warning system, which mistakenly showed the approach of five American nuclear missiles. By deciding to ignore the algorithms and listening to his inner instinct instead, Petrov helped prevent the all-encompassing US-Russian nuclear war, which is shown in detail in the documentary The Man Who Saved the World, which will be released in digital form next week.
Since Petrov passed away last year, the award was given to his daughter Elena. Meanwhile, Dmitry Petrov’s son missed his flight to New York due to the delay in issuing a visa by the US Embassy.
“The fact that the guy cannot get a visa to visit the city saved by his father from nuclear annihilation symbolizes how cool the relations between the US and Russia have become, which increases the risk of an accidental nuclear war,” said MIT professor Max Tegmark during the presentation of the award. Apparently, the only recent case of reducing the risk of an accidental nuclear war was the Donald Trump Summit with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki earlier this year, which, ironically, was marked by universal criticism.
In Russia, the military often avoided discussing their military activities, fearing that the government might not like it, so Elena first heard about the heroic deed of her father only in 1998 – 15 years after that incident. And even then, Elena and her brother found out about the act of their father only after a German journalist turned to the family in connection with the article on which he was working. It is not known for certain whether Petrov’s wife, who died in 1997, knew about the heroism of her husband. Until the end of his life, Petrov very modestly assessed the event, which brought him fame. “I was just doing my job,” he said.
Many, however, will agree that on that September 1983 day, he went far beyond his work responsibilities. Alert about the five approaching nuclear missiles appeared during the exacerbation of tensions between the two superpowers, partly due to the buildup of the United States military arsenal in the early 1980s, and also because of the anti-Soviet rhetoric of Ronald Reagan. Earlier that month, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean passenger plane that flew into its airspace, causing the death of almost 300 people, and Petrov had to act in this context when he received a missile alert. He had only a few minutes to decide whether the satellite data was a false alarm or not.
Since it was determined that the satellites were functioning properly, the procedure required him to report on an impending attack. Partly guided by internal intuition, and believing that the United States would hardly have fired only five missiles, he told the command that it was a false alarm, not knowing if it really was. Further, the investigation found that the reflection of the sun from the surface of the clouds was mistakenly interpreted by the satellite as an indicator of the launch of rockets.
Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate Beatrice Fin, who was instrumental in accepting the UN Nuclear Weapons Treaty, said: “Stanislav Petrov had a choice that no one had to do, and at that moment chose humanity to save each of us. None of the countries and no man should have this kind of control on our lives and on the lives of future generations. 35 years after Stanislav Petrov chose us over nuclear weapons, nine states still hold the world hostage with 15,000 nuclear weapons. We cannot continue to rely on luck and heroes to protect humanity. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons provides for all of us and our leaders the opportunity to choose in favor of humanity instead of nuclear weapons, prohibiting and eliminating the latter once and for all. This is the choice between our end and the end of a nuclear weapon. We are grateful to Stanislav Petrov for choosing the second. ”
Hannah Fry, professor of mathematics at University College London, who participated in the ceremony, is the author of the new book Hello, World. Being a human being in the era of algorithms, ”noted that due to the fact that human solutions are increasingly being replaced by automated algorithms, it is sometimes critical to leave a person access to the system, as was the case with Petrov.
The Future Life Prize is designed to recognize and reward those who have taken exceptional measures to safeguard the collective future of humanity. It is awarded by the Institute for the Future of Life (IBSH), a non-profit organization, also known for its support of research on the safety of artificial intelligence with the participation of Ilona Mask and others. “Although most people never learn about Petrov at school, they might not be alive if it were not for him,” said IBZH co-founder Anthony Aguirre. Last year, the award was received by Vasily Arkhipov, who independently prevented a nuclear strike on the United States during the Caribbean crisis. Currently, IBSH accepts nominations for next year’s award.
In the photo: Stanislav Petrov during the prevention of a third world war.
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