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GESDA's best pick from the press, web and science journals, in relation to GESDA's thematic platforms

23-30 November 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Milestone moment for pandemic treaty in Geneva // 26.11.2021, Health Policy Watch
As pandemic treaty negotiations kick off again at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva this week, countries face a stark choice. Will they decide to move ahead on a new system that vests an independent entity with greater powers to monitor their own national alert and responses – in the name of faster pandemic response for everyone?

Related articles:

(© UN)


> Wellcome Global Monitor 2020: Covid-19 // 29.11.2021, Wellcome Trust
The Wellcome Global Monitor: Covid-19, the largest study of its kind, explores how the pandemic has affected the lives of people around the world and influenced their perceptions of science, healthcare systems and governments. Insights found levels of trust in scientists have increased since 2018, placing it on par with doctors and nurses.


> What happened to the ‘CRISPR babies’? // 29.11.2021, Nature Biotechnology
In 2018, biophysicist He Jiankui shocked the world by announcing that he had used the CRISPR genome-editing technique to alter embryos that were implanted and led to the birth of two children. But what happened to the babies? They are said to be healthy toddlers, reports Nature Biotechnology. It investigates how the edits to the girls’ genomes might translate into health benefits or risks, how their condition might be monitored, considering the jailing of He and the closure of his lab, and how other researchers might ethically study the gene-edited girls’ data.

Related article: Toward inclusive global governance of human genome editing // 23.11.2021, PNAS


> Can a digital reality be jacked directly into your brain? // 24.11.2021, WIRED
The idea of a synthetic experience uploaded to the mind has been a sci-fi fantasy forever. New brain-computer interfaces are making it nonfiction – very slowly.

(© AndriaLo)


> How to program biology like a computer // 24.11.2021, AXIOS
The growing synthetic biology industry is developing tools to allow companies to program living cells the way we program computers. Why it matters? Turning cellular engineering from an art to an industry could open the door to more sustainable energy, food and materials, but it carries the risk of making it much easier to create the biological equivalent of malware.
Related article: Can synthetic biology save us? This scientist thinks so // 23.11.2021, New York Times
Drew Endy is squarely focused on the potential of redesigning organisms for useful purposes. He also acknowledges significant challenges.

©Sarah Grillo/Axios


> 'It’s time to widen the lens of sustainable finance' // 29.11.2021, Geneva Solutions
The UN climate conference in Glasgow brought fresh commitments from financial institutions to align investments with the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. However, if unaccompanied by investments to improve the lives of people around the world, the effort may be doomed from the start, write Nadia Isler, director of SDG Lab at UN Geneva, and Sandrine Salerno, executive director of Sustainable Finance Geneva, the organiser of the Building Bridges summit which kicked off on 29 November.
Related article: Building Bridges: quatre défis durables accessibles pour la place financière suisse // 29.11.2021, Le Temps

(© SDGLab)


> Access for all: the democratisation of AI // 10.11.2021, Engineering & Technology
The process of providing access to AI tools must be carefully managed – which is why democratising AI is an important step in its development.

Related articles:

  • Our AI odyssey // 26.11.2021, Project Syndicate
    The powerful effects of artificial intelligence are already being felt in business, politics, medicine, war, and almost every other domain of twenty-first century life. For all of its positive potential, the technology presents significant risks that are best addressed sooner rather than later.
  • Our global agreement on AI could reduce bias and surveillance // 26.11.2021, NewScientist
    Nearly 200 countries have signed up to UNESCO's agreement on the ethics of artificial intelligence. This could help make the technology fairer for all.


> How to make a carbon club work // 29.11.2021, Foreign Policy
States are strongly encouraged to reduce emissions, but they can’t be forced to do so, and if they fall short of targets, there will be few repercussions—if any. As a result, some experts are putting their money on economic rather than political solutions to the climate crisis.One of them is “club theory,” popularized by Nobel Prize-winning economist William Nordhaus in 2015. The “club” is a group of countries wherein members adhere to a common carbon tax or “price on pollution.” Nonmember countries are subjected to a 3 percent tariff on products they sell to members, incentivizing them to join. To date, more than 3,600 economists have signed a statement saying carbon taxes are the most “cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions.” With that regards, the Canadian system is a promising – and politically palatable – prototype for other large emitters.


> Quel avenir pour la Genève internationale à l’heure du virtuel? // 27.11.2021, RTS/GenèveVision
Le virtuel va-t-il s’imposer de plus en plus au détriment des réunions physiques comme la pandémie nous y a contraints? Genève, ce haut-lieu des rencontres et des négociations rapprochées gardera-t-elle sa place privilégiée à l’heure du distanciel ? A-t-elle les outils numériques pour répondre aux nouvelles configurations de ce multilatéralisme hybride? La thématique était au cœur d’une table ronde organisée par le pôle international de la RTS Genève Vision et le Club diplomatique de Genève jeudi 25 novembre.

(Not-so-private world. © Chris Stowers/Panos)


> Taking the pulse of science diplomacy and developing practices of valuation // 17.11.2021, Science and Public Policy
Science diplomacy has caught remarkable attention in public policy and academic research over the last fifteen years. However, the concept is plagued by a huge talk–action discrepancy: its public discourse has reached a problematic state of dazzling self-adulation, while it is unclear if and how the actual policies and associated organizations live up to these expectations. This article reconstructs three structural causes to explain the recent hype about science diplomacy. It further encourages actors to organize evaluations that ask whether and how actions of science diplomacy can be valuable. In this regard, a first set of fundamental principles is proposed for setting up an evaluative framework. In conclusion, the article advises science diplomacy actors from democratic states and institutions, from both academic research and public policy, to stop dreaming about soft power influence on authoritarian states and regimes but rather face new geopolitical realities.

(© DR)
  • The unique properties of quantum systems such as individual photons of light allow them to be used in provably secure cryptographic key exchange.
  • This is of great interest to organisations such as healthcare providers, governments and financial institutions.
  • Quantum protocols can now be deployed between dedicated nodes distant up to about 100 km using existing optic fibres — enough to link, for example, a bank headquarters and a data storage warehouse.
  • Academic prototypes are operating at very low key generation rates over satellite links.



Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> «Wir haben immer noch nicht den Punkt erreicht, wo ein Quantencomputer einen echten Vorteil bietet» // 16.11.2021, NZZ
Kaum ein Tech-Unternehmen kommt am Thema Quantencomputer vorbei. Dario Gil, seit 2019 Forschungsdirektor von IBM, erklärt im Interview, was diese Rechner bereits können – und was nicht.

> The Quantum Daily launches its Market intelligence platform, rebrands to “The Quantum Insider” // 23.11.2021, Yahoo!Finance

> Smart Internet Lab will deliver Quantum Data Centre of Future // 27.11.2021, MirageNews

> Role of quantum computing and AI in healthcare industry // 24.11.2021, Analytics Insight

Artificial intelligence 

> White House technology policy chief says AI bill of rights needs ‘teeth’ // 20.11.2021, FedScoop

> South Korea starts work on $330m national AI complex//24.11.2021, Global Construction Review

> Supercomputers flex their AI muscles: new benchmarks reveal science-task speedups // 20.11.2021, IEEE Spectrum

> AI will soon oversee its own data management // 24.11.2021, VentureBeat
> Artificial intelligence proves its protein-folding power // 25.11.2021, Nature

A model of the human nuclear pore complex, built using AlphaFold2 and structural data. ©AGNIESZKA OBARSKA-KOSINSKA

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> The Gene-Synthesis Revolution // 24.11.2021, New York Times
Researchers can now design and mass-produce genetic material — a technique that helped build the mRNA vaccines. What could it give us next?

> Genetic engineering: why some fear the next pandemic could be lab-made // 17.11.2021, Financial Times
US government funding for scientific research that splices deadly viruses to make them more transmissible is under scrutiny amid safety concerns.

> The UK Government wants to sequence your baby’s genome // 25.11.2021, WIRED


How AI is deepening our understanding of the brain //23.11.2021, SingularityHub

Longevity and health

> Digital technologies: a new determinant of health // November 2021, The Lancet

> Bioengineering human placentas: social implications of an advancing field // 26.11.2021, Trends in Biotechnology
> UNAIDS warns of millions of AIDS-related deaths and continued devastation from pandemics if leaders don’t address inequalities // 29.11.2021, UNAIDS
The warning comes in a new report by UNAIDS launched ahead of World AIDS Day (1 December).
> L’EPFL ouvre une piste pour fabriquer des organes artificiels // 29.11.2021,
> It's time to fear the fungi // 23.11.2021, WIRED
Humans have long been protected from fungal infections, thanks to our nice, warm blood. Climate change could ruin that.

(© Sam Withney/Getty Images)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Humans have broken a fundamental law of the ocean // 23.11.2021, WIRED

India’s foray into hydroponics, will it usher in a new green revolution? // 21.11.2021, SMEFutures

Material inspired by blood vessels can extract uranium from seawater // 29.11.2021, New Scientist
The oceans are a huge untapped store of uranium, which is vital for nuclear energy, and new technology could ensure a long-lasting supply


Future buildings could be made from 3D printed microbes // 23.11.2021, Daily Beast

Living robots made from frog cells can replicate themselves in a dish // 29.11.2021, New Scientist
Swarms of tiny "xenobots" can self-replicate in the lab by pushing loose cells together – the first time this form of reproduction has been seen in multicellular organisms


China’s space programme will go nuclear to power future missions to the moon and Mars // 24.11.2021, South China Morning Post

Chinese space firms present big ambitions at commercial space forum // 26.11.2021, SpaceNews
A new look at the cosmos: the James Webb Telescope, a long-delayed instruement, will soon soar into the heavens // 27.11.2021, The Economist
Manifesto seeks to re-invigorate Europe in space //19.11.2021, BBC News
Read the Manifesto here

Climate and environment

How a new global carbon market could exaggerate climate progress // 24.11.2021, MIT Technology Review
Portugal establishes the largest fully protected marine reserve in Europe & North Atlantic // 29.11.2021, PortugalGlobal
Network-based forecasting of climate phenomena // 23.11.2021, PNAS

> Using space to foster development assistance for disaster resilience // 23.11.2021, ESA
Global trends in the invention and diffusion of climate change mitigation technologies // November 2021, Nature Energy


Hydrogen: price transparency will help fuel a green revolution // 24.11.2021, Financial Times

Nuclear fusion: why the race to harness the power of the sun just sped up // 24.11.2021, Financial Times

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> Biden administration gears up to expand global science cooperation //23.11.2021, Science|Business
Reversing Trump-era isolationism, Washington announces new science collaborations with funding agencies in Bern and Ottawa – and upcoming meetings with Brazil, France, India, Japan and Korea

>  Mit parteiübergreifend vereinten Kräften für eine nachhaltigere Schweiz // 30.11.2021, Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Switzerland
Die Schweiz hat sich 2015 zu den UN-Zielen für nachhaltige Entwicklung 2030 verpflichtet. Bald ist Halbzeit und unser Land fällt bei der Zielerreichung immer weiter hinter andere Länder zurück. Mit Unterstützung von SDSN Switzerland formieren sich jetzt erstmals Parlamentarierinnen und Parlamentarier unter Einbezug aller Fraktionen zur UN-Agenda 2030. Sie wollen diese gemeinsame Plattform nutzen, um die Chancen der Schweiz für ein Voranbringen der SDGs aktiv anzugehen und Akzente für eine nachhaltigere Entwicklung zu setzen.

> Swiss strike deal for COVAX to get 1 mln Moderna doses more quickly // 24.11.2021, Reuters
Related article: «L'attitude de la Suisse prolonge la pandémie» // 29.11.2021,
Le futur de la pandémie aurait dû se décider à Genève cette semaine, lors des débats désormais annulés de l'OMC sur la levée des brevets. Seuls les pays européens, au premier plan la Suisse, s'y opposent.

> Les États membres de l'UE s'accordent sur la régulation des géants du numérique // 25.11.2021, Le Figaro

> Robots won’t close the warehouse worker gap anytime soon // 26.11.2021, WIRED
Even Amazon’s new AI-powered machines aren’t nearly capable enough to handle the most important fulfillment tasks.

> The new Arctic colonization //25.11.2021, Novaya Gazeta/The Barents Observer
Repression against indigenous peoples is comparable to the first years of Stalin's industrialization. But this time the government is acting in the interests of private capital.
Indigenous woman in the Yamal-Nenets region. ©Atle Staalesen


> The history of poop is really the history of technology // 06.11.2021, WIRED
Sure it's gross, but human mastery over its chemistry allowed the success of agriculture – and the rise of civilization.

> Will the future of the Internet be voice? Proposing a World Wide Voice Web // 02.11.2021, HAI Stanford University Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
> Humans didn’t invent mathematics, it’s what the world is made of // 25.11.2021, SingularityHub
Many people think that mathematics is a human invention. To this way of thinking, mathematics is like a language: it may describe real things in the world, but it doesn’t “exist” outside the minds of the people who use it. But the Pythagorean school of thought in ancient Greece held a different view. Its proponents believed reality is fundamentally mathematical. More than 2,000 years later, philosophers and physicists are starting to take this idea seriously.


Mirjana Spoljaric Egger elected as ICRC’s first female president // 25.11.2021, Geneva Solutions
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) announced that it had elected as its new president – the first woman to lead the humanitarian organisation. (©ICRC)

> Mehr Wissenschaftsdiplomatie! // 17.11.2021, Die Zeit
Internationaler Austausch ist für Wissenschaftler enorm wichtig. Sie brauchen dafür den Rückhalt der neuen Regierung, erklärt Katja Becker ist Präsidentin der Deutschen Forschungsgemeinschaft.

> The climate transition must not mean global energy redlining for Africa (Opinion, by Uzodinma Iweala)// 24.11.2021, Financial Times
The writer is the chief executive of The Africa Center (©WCSJ2019)

> Climate responsibility goes beyond nine-to-five job, says deputy UN chief Amina Mohammed // 29.11.2021, Geneva Solutions
The finance community and world at large need to go beyond their nine-to-five job and take individual responsibility in making the planet a more sustainable place (©UN)


I-DAIR launches Global Research Map (GRM) for digital health and AI // 24.11.2021, I-DAIR
I-DAIR’s Digital Health and AI Global Research Map is an interactive tool designed to provide awareness of the global, regional and national landscapes of digital health and AI research and innovation. Its objectives are to enhance visibility and understanding of current research and investment trends, identify gaps, and foster multi-stakeholders collaboration on AI and digital health to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (SDG.3)

>  Des panels citoyens au chevet d’une démocratie en panne // 27.11.2021, Le Temps
Alors que les trois chantiers de l'Europe, du défi climatique et du financement des assurances sociales sont dans l'impasse en Suisse, les panels citoyens pourraient-ils constituer une piste à suivre? Reportage à Genève et à Uster (ZH). (©ReneRuis/LeTemps)


> Reith Lectures 2021 - Living With Artificial Intelligence // December 2021, BBC
Stuart Russell, Professor of Computer Science and founder of the Center for Human-Compatible Artificial Intelligence at the University of California, Berkeley will be the 2021 BBC Reith Lecturer. Russell will deliver four lectures this autumn, which will explore the impact of AI on our lives and discuss how we can retain power over machines more powerful than ourselves.

(© DR)

> NeuroTech Talk series: closing the regulatory gap // 01.12.2021, 6pm CET, organized by IFL and CNP
The next session of the NeuroTech Talks series, co-organized by Innovation Forum Lausanne (IFL) and the Center for Neuroprosthetics (CNP) of EPFL. The event will focus on the necessary strategies for closing the regulatory gap in the neurotech field. Whether you're considering a career in this field or you're interested in learning how to translate a neurotech research to clinics in EU or USA, join the event on December 1st 2021 at 18h00 CET.  The moderator of the session will be Silvia Scarabelli, Regulatory and Clinical Affairs Engineer at Wyss. The speakers with her on the virtual stage will be: The event will be fully online and won't be recorded. Register now at this link and you will receive the Zoom link the day before the event. 

> Exploring future trends together // 03.12.2021, 4:15pm CET, Uni Mail, Bd du Pont-d'Arve 40, Salle M R060, 1204 Geneva, organized by SDI and GESDA New technologies evolve quickly and raise new questions for policymakers but also promise lots of new opportunities for us as individuals. Where could the journey go and what do different scenarios mean for the governance of technologies? Join us as we explore these questions through expert presentations by GESDA and representatives from WIPO. The Swiss Digital Initiative will afterwards moderate a panel discussion so join us to raise your questions about our digital future.

Humanity, now more than ever, is facing global challenges (especially with regards to the Covid-19 crisis), putting people and the planet under stress and in great uncertainty. Simultaneously, the world is experiencing breakthroughs in science and technology at an unprecedented pace, which are sometimes hard to grasp. Anticipation, therefore, is key to build the future with the aim of early and fully exploiting this scientific potential for the well-being and inclusive development of all. The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator was founded in Geneva in 2019 to tackle this issue.

GESDA's ambition is to first anticipate and identify these cutting-edge advances in science and technology throughout various domains (Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI, Human Augmentation, Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering, Science & Diplomacy). Based on this scientific outlook, it will, with its Diplomacy community, translate potential leaps in science and tech into tools that can bring effective and socially-inclusive solutions to emerging challenges. Most importantly, this process will be achieved not only by scientists or diplomats, but will include actors of various professional origins and mindsets (from philanthropy, industry, citizens, to youth).

Forward Forward
Have a very nice and fruitful week! :-)
Copyright ©  2020, All rights reserved for the selection. All rights reserved by the respective media for articles reproduction.
Selection of an article in this press review doesn't mean endorsement by GESDA.

Mailing address:
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c/o Fondation Campus Biotech
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+41 58 201 02 61

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