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

26 March - 1 April 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg
NEXT ISSUE: 16 April 2021
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> Trotz Cyberangriffen: Russland, China und die USA können sich bei der Cybersicherheit überraschend einigen // 28.03.2021, NZZ
Sechs Jahre lang ging in der Uno beim Thema Cybersicherheit nichts mehr. Die Fronten zwischen den Weltmächten waren verhärtet. Jetzt konnten sich erstmals alle Mitgliedstaaten auf Empfehlungen einigen – auch dank der Schweiz: Unter dem Vorsitz des Schweizer Diplomaten Jürg Lauber (auch Diplomacy Moderator bei GESDA) stimmten die 193 Uno-Mitgliedstaaten Mitte März Empfehlungen für mehr Cybersicherheit zu – einstimmig.



> Global leaders call for new treaty to bolster resilience against future pandemics // 30.03.2021, Health Policy Watch
After the COVID-19 pandemic exposed fundamental flaws in the global health architecture, a proposal for a new pandemic treaty that could strengthen the world’s capacity to contain the current pandemic and prepare for future ones, is gaining momentum. That was a key message at a World Health Organization (WHO) launch of an open letter by 25 global leaders calling for the world to negotiate such a treaty, featuring Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and two dozen other global leaders that are now backing the treaty initiative.

Related article: Leaders join Charles Michel’s push for pandemic treaty // 30.03.2021, Politico



> Ethics, Human Rights & Emerging Technologies // 31.03.2021, SIENNA project
The european SIENNA project ended on 31 March 2021. The results of our 3,5 year project were presented at a three day conference, discussing the ethical and human rights issues raised by emerging technologies, methods and instruments proposed by SIENNA, and addressing the need for ethical guidance and governance of emerging technologies. Presentations have been recorded, on regulation, innovation policies, research ethics frameworks, Ethics by Design methodologies, education and training programmes, standards, and certification.


The future of gene editing // March 2021, Chemical&Engineering News
CRISPR was just the beginning. Sharpen your knowledge of the companies transforming medicine


> Meeting the China challenge: a new American strategy for technology competition // 2020, Asia Society
Is China or the U.S. ahead in artificial intelligence? What is the best way to counter security threats in 5G technology? How do we best maintain American leadership positions in fundamental research and biotechnology? A new policy report on Meeting the China Challenge: A New American Strategy for Technology Competition is the culmination of over a full year’s deliberation and study by the bipartisan Working Group on Science and Technology in U.S.-China Relations. It sets forth broad policy objectives as well as specific recommendations for the new U.S. administration in four domains of science and technology: fundamental research, 5G digital communications, artificial intelligence and biotechnology.


> Artificial life made in lab can grow and divide like natural bacteria  // 29.03.2021, NewScientist 
Synthetic cells made by combining components of Mycoplasma bacteria with a chemically synthesised genome can grow and divide into cells of uniform shape and size, just like most natural bacterial cells.

(©Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science Photo Library)


> Trust in tech craters // 31.03.2021, Axios
Trust in tech — including companies specializing in AI, VR, 5G and the internet of things — fell all around the world last year, the Edelman Trust Barometer found in a massive survey of 31,000 people in 27 countries.

(©Thomas Deerinck, NCMIR/Science Photo Library)


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Artificial intelligence

> Kate Crawford interview: How AI is exploiting people and the planet // 24.03.2021, NewScientist
Beyond the headline breakthroughs, artificial intelligence is a global industrial complex. Having explored its political and social implications, Kate Crawford at Microsoft Research is now focusing on the infrastructure underpinning A

> Roman Yampolskiy on the Uncontrollability, Incomprehensibility, and Unexplainability of AI // 19.03.2021, Future of Life Institute

> Unique AI method for generating proteins to speed up drug development // 30.03.2021, TechXplore

> IBM, Cleveland Clinic partner on next-gen computing for health R&D // 30.03.2021, Axios
New artificial neuron device could greatly reduce energy requirements for neural computations // 29.03.2021, Unite.AI

> The lab of the future is now // 28.03.2021, Chemical&Engineering News
Recent demonstrations of AI-directed automation may herald a new world for drug and materials discovery.

Quantum & Physics

> "L'avenir des calculateurs quantiques est entre les mains des startups" selon le physicien Alain Aspect // 24.03.2021, Sciences&Avenir
> Fiber optics could be the key to million-qubit quantum computers // 29.03.2021, SingularityHub

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


A CRISPR 2.0 pioneer, expecting credit on its own invention, is ruffled by a competitor // 30.03.2021, STAT
> Le microbiote animal, un autre monde à explorer // 29.03.2021,
> Experimental gene therapy for hemophilia probably did not cause patient’s liver tumor // 29.03.2021, Science

Longevity and health

Early warning - how can technology be used to forecast future pandemics? (PODCAST) // March 2021, The Economist
Our podcast on the science and technology making the news. Also this week: is data the ultimate weapon in fighting covid-19? And, how testing infrastructure needs to be improved.

> The emerging plasticity of SARS-CoV-2 // 26.03.2021, Science

> Rethinking the oversight conditions of human-animal chimera research // January 2021, Bioethics
> The microbiome and human cancer (REVIEW) // 26.03.2021, Science


> The weird science of loneliness and our brains // 30.03.2021, WIRED
Social isolation has been linked to poorer physical and mental health, but scientists are finally starting to understand its neurological impact.

> Brain device helps paralyzed rats walk again // 24.03.2021, Science Translational Medicine

> A sexy new theory of consciousness gets all up in your feelings // 29.03.2021, WIRED

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Biden administration launches major push to expand offshore wind power // 29.03.2021, Washington Post
> Newest battery-metal IPO taps rising interest in the deep sea // 26.03.2021, BloombergGreen

> Can FuelCell Energy’s molten carbonate fuel cell help solve the CO₂ problem? // 27.03.2021, Chemical&Engineering News



First known gene transfer from plant to insect identified // 25.03.2021, Nature

> Precision genome editing heralds rapid de novo domestication for new crops // 04.03.2021, Cell

> The EU could greatly reduce carbon emissions by embracing GM crops // 26.03.2021, NewScientist

Climate and environment

Geoengineering researchers have halted plans for a balloon launch in Sweden // 31.03.2021, MIT Technology Review

>  Europe plans 20'000 GPU supercomputer to create ‘Digital Twin’ of Earth // 29.03.2021, ExtremeTech
> Carbon capture marches toward practical use // 26.03.2021, Science
> Biodiversity, climate change, and health data: Science Academies submit three statements for G7 Summit // 31.03.2021, Leopoldina
> Climate change will deepen rich-poor global divide, top economists warn // 30.03.2021, Thomson Reuters Foundation
> Les plastiques dans l'environnement (RAPPORT) // Mars 2021, Académie des sciences françaises
> Le poids économique ahurissant des espèces envahissantes // 31.03.2021,
Based on this Nature article: High and rising economic costs of biological invasions worldwide


Biden administration to continue the National Space Council // 29.03.2021, SpaceNews
White House statement: "The National Space Council will be renewed to assist the president in generating national space policies, strategies, and synchronizing America’s space activities."
> Elon Musk's 'Mars City' Expects to Use This NASA Box That Turns Mars' Air into Oxygen // 28.03.2021, TechTimes
> This is how (almost) anyone can train to be an astronaut // 24.03.2021, MIT Technology Review
Private astronaut missions are set to begin this year. But how do you prepare a civilian for spaceflight?

> South Korea wants to land on the Moon by 2030 // 29.03.2021, SpaceWatch.Global



Robots power the quest to farm oceans for biofuel // 22.03.2021, IEEE Spectrum

> China ramps up push to make world’s biggest steel industry green // 30.03.2021, Bloomberg Green

> The race to write the rulebook on deep seabed mining // 29.03.2021, Geneva.Solutions

> Ocean solutions that benefit people, nature and the economy // December 2020, The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

G-7 Coordination Seen as ‘Missing Piece’ for Sustainable Finance // 25.03.2021, Bloomberg Green

> A Biden administration strategy: send in the scientists // 26.03.2021, New York Times

> ‘We are a laughing stock’: Covid-19 and Germany’s political malaise // 31.03.2021, Financial Times

> Why the climate crisis will intensify the border crisis // 27.03.2021, Axios

Sarah Grillo/Axios)


The delusions of techno-futurists who ask: crisis, what crisis? // 25.03.2021, Financial Times
An AI-driven focus on the fascinatingly improbable is displacing discussion about the worryingly possible.
> New details of EU’s €3.4B industrial research plan revealed in latest draft work programme // 30.03.2021, Science|Business
Money is set to flow for space research, new communication technologies, quantum computing and green manufacturing.
How easy would it be to snuff out humanity? // 27.03.2021, The Independant
Astronomer Royal Martin Rees considers the events – manmade or natural – that could trigger the end.

The prospect of engineered pandemics must not be ignored (©CNS/AFP/Getty)


ICGAI Catalyzing Cooperation: Working together across AI governance initiatives  // 23.03.2021, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Kick-off event for the International Congress for the Governance of Artificial Intelligence online speaker series, moderated by Michael Møller, Chair of GESA’s Diplomacy Forum, and Nanjira Sambuli, strategy policy expert and Diplomacy Moderator at GESDA. (©DR)

> "Are your sure?", avec Wendy Queen (PODCAST) // 29.03.2021, EPFL
Wendy Queen (Academic Moderator à GESDA) nous parle de son enfance en pleine nature en Caroline du Sud, du professeur qui a bousculé ses certitudes en l’orientant vers les sciences, du pouvoir de la connaissance et de la science pour changer le monde, de la nécessité de savoir se tromper pour avancer en science. 

‘We must adapt’: EU research chief on Europe’s €100-billion funding programme // 29.03.2021, Nature
Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will oversee the implementation of the Horizon Europe scheme. (©DR)

The return of great power politics to the Human Rights Council // 30.03.202, Geneva Solutions
Marc Limon is the executive director and founder of the Universal Rights Group (URG), a think tank focused on international human rights with offices in Geneva, New York and Bogota. (©DR)

Le marathon des 1000 inventions de Bertrand Piccard // 17.03.2021, Bilan
Bertrand Piccard, psychiatre explorateur, va prochainement repartir pour un nouveau tour du monde, celui des solutions écologiques labélisées et rentables à faire connaître. (©DR)


> SCIENTIFIC LITERACY:  Why everyone should understand climate change // 25.03.2021, DevelopmentAndCooperation
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), scientific literacy is “the ability to engage with science-related issues, and with the ideas of science, as a reflective citizen”. It implies that people will only accept as valid knowledge insights that are based on empirical evidence. It is not enough to have some kind of theory of a phenomenon, that theory must stand up to facts and critical reasoning.
Science is a very powerful tool for understanding the world we live in. Its findings are often counter-intuitive. An individual person would not notice global warming. The phenomenon is too complex. Nonetheless, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated clearly: “Scientific evidence for warming of the climate system is unequivocal.” The IPCC’s job is to monitor research results globally, and its members are leading scholars.
Indeed, there is compelling factual evidence of rapid climate change: global temperatures are rising, polar ice sheets are shrinking, glaciers are melting et cetera. As climate scientists have been predicting for decades, moreover, extreme weather events are becoming more frequent – and causing evermore damage. The data confirm scientific theories.


> Is consciousness everywhere? // March 2021, MIT Press Reader
Experience is in unexpected places, including in all animals, large and small, and perhaps even in brute matter itself.


> New book covers fragile status of the genetic diversity of our food // 22.03.2021, International Center for Tropical Agriculture
A new global evaluation of the conservation of plant genetic resources is published as nations discuss new biodiversity conservation targets at the Convention on Biological Diversity


> Making sense of quantum theory, with Carlo Rovelli // 01.04.2021, 7pmCET, organized by New Scientist
Quantum theory is the beating heart of today’s science. It underlies how atoms work and all of chemistry and biology. It has never been wrong. Yet it remains profoundly mysterious. Disturbingly, the mathematics of quantum theory does not describe reality. The 20th century physicist Richard Feynman perhaps summed it up best when he said that nobody understands quantum theory. So where do we go from here?  In this talk, acclaimed theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli helps us to make sense of quantum theory. Starting with the ground breaking insights made by a young Werner Heisenberg in 1925, Rovelli describes how the strangeness of quantum theory - even today - serves to confuse us and open new perspectives with which to understand reality.


> NeuroTech Talk series: Implantable Brain Interfaces // 07.04.2021, 6:30pm, organized by co-organized by Innovation Forum Lausanne (IFL) and the Center for Neuroprosthetics (CNP) of EPFL
The second online conference of the NeuroTech Talk series, dedicated to Implantable Brain Interfaces will welcome leaders from the entrepreneurial and academic worlds. They will present promising industrial applications, in the fields of neuroscience and neuroprosthetics. Beyond the technologies behind these applications, the speakers will describe the personal and entrepreneurial challenges they faced in their journeys, They will share their career paths, the choices that brought them where they are today and their advice for PhD students and researchers seeking a future in the medical device industry. Professor Diego Ghezzi, head of the Medtronic Chair in Neuroengineering at EPFL, will be leading the seminar and introducing the speakers: Carolina Aguilar, CEO & co-Founder, INBRAIN Neuroelectronics. After a career as Neuroscientist and Business Executive, she and her team now develop a high density, high resolution and graphene-based neural interface; Thomas Oxley, MD, PhD, founder & CEO of Synchron Inc. He conceived, developed and is now translating into clinics the StentrodeTM, a device able to record brain activity from within a blood vessel; Matt Angle, PhD, founder & CEO of Paradromics Inc. He and his team are working on a novel high data rate interface between brains and computers.


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, Ecoregeneration and Geoengineering, Science and 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.

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