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Crossing French and British perspectives, the Night of Ideas engages audiences through thought-provoking and free debates with 30 leading figures tackling the latest ideas of our time, from war and geopolitics to the climate crisis, AI and disinformation.

Join the Night of Ideas on 8 February at the Institut français in London. 

What's on

Opening Ceremony with Nancy Huston and Rory Stewart

18:00–19:00 - Ciné Lumière - Opening

Hélène Duchêne, French Ambassador to the UK, will open the Night of Ideas 2024.

French-Canadian novelist Nancy Huston will deliver a speech on the main theme of this year’s edition Fault Lines, inspired by her eponymous novel first published in 2006. Former UK cabinet minister and diplomat Rory Stewart will then address the same topic in light of his own experience.

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The Return of Geopolitical Blocs?

19:20-20:10 - Ciné Lumière - Debate

As growing tensions challenge the multilateral order, diplomatic, scientific, industrial, and military rivalries escalate. Beyond the competition between states and their institutions, conflicting ideologies and new narratives are at stake. How can international cooperation face these geopolitical fault lines and play a key role in ensuring a stable future? 


  • Sébastien Maillard, Journalist, Research Fellow at Chatham House, Special Advisor at the Jacques Delors Institute
  • Djenabou Cissé, Defence and Security Expert, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique
  • Susan Coughtrie, Director, Foreign Policy Centre

Chaired by Ramona Bloj, Vice-President, Groupe d’Etudes Géopolitiques, Founder, Le Grand Continent.

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Rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris

19:20-20:10 - La Médiathèque - Debate

On 15 April 2019, Notre-Dame de Paris suffered the biggest blaze in its history causing a profound emotion felt around the world, beyond religions and beliefs. Why was everyone so deeply moved? With the cathedral’s reopening scheduled for 2024, this discussion will also address the paradoxes of heritage preservation, between tradition, adaptation and technological innovation. As an exceptionally complex restoration, the building site has become a testing ground for arts, as well as for digital data processing and visualisation. 


  • Aline Magnien, Former Director of the Research Laboratory for Historic Monuments, French Ministry of Culture
  • Rodney Harrison, Professor in Heritage Studies and Director of the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies, University College London
  • Rob Woodside, Estates Director, English Heritage

Chaired by Agnès Poirier, Journalist and Author of Notre-Dame: the Soul of France.

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The Limits of the Body

19:20-20:10 - Les Salons - Debate

Bending the ethical rules of sports and science, transhumanism is the idea that human beings should be able to use technology to modify and enhance their capabilities beyond biological constraints. On the eve of the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Paris, let’s address the ethical issues around transhumanism in sports and science. 


  • Apolline Taillandier, Political Theorist and Historian, University of Cambridge
  • Cecilia Mascolo, Professor in Mobile Systems and Head of the Mobile Systems Research Laboratory, University of Cambridge
  • Anders Sandberg, Neuroscientist and Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford

Chaired by James Wilson, Professor in Philosophy, University College London

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(Un)Leashing Artificial Intelligence?

20:30-21:20 - Ciné Lumière - Debate

Amid a technological revolution supposed to change the way we live, work, and interact with each other, researchers and lawmakers face a burning issue: is it possible to reap the benefits from artificial intelligence technologies without putting our society at risk? 


Chaired by Yves-Alexandre de Montjoye, Associate Professor in Applied Mathematics and Computer Science, Imperial College London.

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The Future of Warfare

20:30-21:20 - La Médiathèque - Debate

Against a fast-evolving geopolitical backdrop, sweeping technological breakthroughs are changing our understanding of modern warfare. As such, anticipating military risks – and avoiding them – has become increasingly complex. How can defence experts draw both on the history of warfare and contemporary conflicts to foresee the threats of tomorrow? 


  • Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Senior Vice President, Geostrategy, German Marshall Fund of the United States
  • Laure de Roucy Rochegonde, Research Fellow at the Security Studies Center, Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Mats Berdal, Professor in Security & Development and Director of the Conflict, Security and Development Research Group, King’s College London

Chaired by Isabella Antinozzi, Research Analyst, Defence, Industries and Society, Royal United Services Institute.

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Fighting Disinformation

20:30-21:20 - Les Salons - Debate

In a more than ever inter-connected world, strategic misinformation reaches people – through social media and smartphones – in the most intimate parts of their life. From the war in Ukraine to the conflict in the Middle East, recent upheavals have renewed the circulation of doctored content and fake news online. This panel will address how disinformation sets up to influence the way geopolitical conflicts unfold on the international stage, manipulate public opinion, and weigh on the course of national elections. We’ll also look into the actions to tackle the expansion of fake news at a time when factually correct information is all the more needed. 


Chaired by Jessica Cecil, Founder, Trusted News Initiative.

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Splitting the Bill: Funding the Green Transition

 21:40-22:30 - Ciné Lumière - Debate

Green policies designed to tackle global warming have been accused by some of reinforcing existing inequalities, with underprivileged people bearing the cost of the green transition as a result. How can we equitably finance the fight against the climate crisis while taking urgent action? 


  • Brendan Curran, Senior Policy Fellow, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and Environment, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Emily Fry, Economist, Resolution Foundation
  • Nathalie Berny, Researcher, Environmental Advocacy, Maison Française d’Oxford; Institut d’études politiques (Rennes)

Chaired by Laela Pakpour Tabrizi, Director of Consumer Converged Finance, Virgin Media O2 –Franco-British Young Leader.

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Closing Concert with Saults

22:40–23:30 - La Médiathèque - Concert

Produced by Jack Wilson (Fickle Friends), Saults draw their inspiration from 70’s and 80’s pop music with a modern and English sound influenced by French Touch bands. On stage, the most British of French duos sweeps everything on its path, mixing dance, guitar solos, rock, funk and electro with a sprinkle of that brotherly bond audiences can feel as soon as Antoine and Greg Saults start singing in harmony.

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Event details

Institut français du Royaume-Uni
17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT