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

19-25 September 2020

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg

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).


> Geoengineering is the only solution to our climate calamities // 20.09.2020, WIRED
Altering the Earth’s geophysical environment is a moon shot—and it will be the only way to reverse the damage done. It’s time to take it more seriously.

Also read this very interesting article: Gene editing plants and animals could help fight climate change // 23.09.2020, Axios
Based on this report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation: Gene editing for the climate: Biological solutions for curbing greenhouse emissions 

(Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios)


> Brain-computer interfaces and the future of neurotechnology governance // 23.09.2020, OECD Innovation Blog
Today that may sound like fodder for a science fiction movie, but this future may be closer than you think. In an article published in the New York Times, science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff outlines the recent history (and potential future) of brain implants, from an AI-powered machine that can translate a person’s thoughts into images, to more recent work on optogenetics, a method through which perceptions are actually written onto a person’s brain. The trajectory that this nascent technology will take is still uncertain, but experts say that we could be at the dawn of a new era in computing.

(@Provided by OECD)


Future of giving 2020 (REPORT) // Fall 2020, sparks & honey
This is a remarkable effort to map the current status of giving and project the future trends which are underpinned by deep cultural shifts. Echoing overarching cultural trends, giving is likely to become more diverse in its forms and actors while at the same time getting deeper and being more collective. In addition and fuelled by technology, giving is expected to become much more targeted while at the same time being more focused on key global issues driven by the perspectives of millennials and generation Z as future givers and beneficiaries. From immediate risks, such as the global coronavirus pandemic, to longer-term ones of climate change and AI, where potential and risk live side by side, the future of giving is about preserving resources for our future. In the face of unprecedented hardship, giving not only becomes a heightened priority for every organization and individual — but also an expression of humanity.


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI


> Quantum computing: randomness as a service // 21.09.2020, Financial Times

First photonic quantum computer on the cloud // 09.09.2020, IEEE Spectrum

Let’s talk about quantum computing in drug discovery // 13.09.2020, C&EN

> New system detects faint communications signals using the principles of quantum physics // 24.09.2020, PRX Quantum

> Quantum at Scale // 21.09.2020, Physics
Third (and final) part of the series: Quantum technology can only fulfill its promise when it reaches a large scale and proves its value to society.

The short weird life – and potential afterlife – of quantum radar // 23.09.2020, Science

Artificial intelligence

Strategic Research, Innovation and Deployment Agenda (REPORT) // September 2020, joint initiative by BDV, CLAIRE, ellis, EurAi, eurobotics

> The next big breakthrough in AI will be around language // 23.09.2020, Harvard Business Review
Related articles: 
The GPT-3 economy // 21.09.2020, TechTalks
Microsoft licenses the breakthrough natural language AI GPT-3 // 23.09.2020, Engadget

> Go ahead, try to sneak bad words past AI filters – for research // 24.09.2020, WIRED
A new Facebook project pits humans against algorithms, to expose the systems' weaknesses and help make them better.

Third-order nanocircuit elements for neuromorphic engineering // 23.09.2020, Nature

In search for future of cloud storage, researchers look to holographic storage solutions // 22.09.2020, Microsoft

(Credit: Microsoft)

Platform 2: Human augmentation

An acoustically actuated microscopic device // 21.09.2020, EPFL Press release
Based on a Advanced Science article

Researchers develop new method to print tiny, functional organs // 24.09.2020, EPFL Press release
Based on an article in Nature Materials

The tech behind the mind-reading pangolin dress could lead to wireless – and batteryless – exoskeleton control // 11.09.2020, IEEE Spectrum

Longevity & Health

Effect of acute physical exercise on motor sequence memory // 18.09.2020, Nature Scientific Reports - University of Geneva press release

> New 'atlas' of human heart cells first step toward precision treatments for heart disease // 24.09.2020, Nature

Chinese AI technology shows people age fastest in their 40s // 19.09.2020, South China Morning Post

Shaping the next UNAIDS global AIDS strategy // 18.09.2020, UNAids press release


Predicting the efficiency of prime editing guide RNAs in human cells // 21.09.2020, Nature Biotechnology

Extensive germline genome engineering in pigs // 21.09.2020, Nature Biomedical Engineering

Biological embedding of experience: a primer on epigenetics // 22.09.2020, PNAS


> Want to decode the human brain? There’s a new system for that, and it’s pretty wild // 22.09.2020, Singularity Hub

Biomarker indicating neurodegeneration identified in the eye // 21.09.2020, Boston Medical Center press release

Brain-scanning backpack brings neuroscience into the real world // 18.09.2020, Science

New brain cell-like nanodevices work together to identify mutations in viruses // 23.09.2020, Nature - Texas A&M University press release

A link between sensory neurons activation and the immune system // 21.09.2020, EPFL/ETHZ/Harvard Press release
Based on a Nature Biotechnology article


Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering



Norway funds world’s first full-scale carbon capture and storage project // 21.09.2020, Electrek

Airbus unveils hydrogen designs for zero-emission flight // 21.09.2020, Bloomberg
In relation: Avantages et inconvénients de l'hydrogène en avion // 22.09.2020, Le Point

Better catalysts for a sustainable bioeconomy // 21.09.2020, Nature Materials - PSI press release

> Safe, extra long-life nuclear batteries could soon be a reality // 23.09.2020, New Scientist

Ceramic thin films for mini batteries // 21.09.2020, EMPA


E. coli bacteria offer path to improving photosynthesis // 21.09.2020,
Cornell University scientists have engineered a key plant enzyme and introduced it in Escherichia coli bacteria in order to create an optimal experimental environment for studying how to speed up photosynthesis, a holy grail for improving crop yields.

Farmer knowledge is key to finding more resilient crops in climate crisis // 21.09.2020, Frontiers in Plant Science


A new report highlights the role China's space program plays in "soft power" and diplomacy // 20.09.2020, SpaceNews

NASA, US Space Force establish foundation for broad collaboration // 22.09.2020, NASA Press release
Article in Science magazine


Can start-ups succeed in making food from the air? // 20.09.2020, C&EN

Climate and environment

>  A climate solution for heavy industry's gaining momentum // 24.09.2020, Bloomberg
A technology that can capture greenhouse gases from wide swaths of the economy is gaining momentum after years of slow growth. Carbon capture, utilization and storage projects worth $27bn are close to a final investment decision, the International Energy Agency said in a report.

> 'Mission Innovation' is mission critical // 08.09.2020, Nature Energy
The Paris Agreement’s Mission Innovation initiative to accelerate government spending on clean energy research is currently succeeding in its quest to support carbon mitigation. It should be renewed for an additional five years, with increased ambition, and changed to better integrate the private sector.

China pledges to become carbon neutral before 2060 // 22.09.2020, The Guardian
In relation: If China plans to go carbon neutral by 2060, why is it building so many coal plants? // 23.09.2020, MIT Technology Review

Will COVID-19 change our relationship with meat? // 22.09.2020, Thomson Reuters Foundation

A l'EPFL, les futurs ingénieurs se retroussent les manches face aux défis climatiques // 21.09.2020,

Plant trees or let forests regrow? New studies probe two ways to fight climate change // 23.09.2020, Science

Forget planting trees: This company is making carbon offsets by putting seaweed on the ocean floor // 15.09.2020, Fast Company

Special section on Carbon pricing

> Constant carbon pricing increases support for climate action compared to ramping up costs over time // 21.09.2020, Nature Climate Change
The introduction of policies that increase the price of carbon is central to limiting the adverse effects of global warming. Conventional wisdom holds that, of the possible cost paths, gradually raising costs relating to climate action will receive the most public support. Here, the authors explore mass support for dynamic cost paths in four major economies (France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States). They find that, for a given level of average costs, increasing cost paths receive little support whereas constant cost schedules are backed by majorities in all countries irrespective of whether those average costs are low or high. Experimental evidence indicates that constant cost paths significantly reduce opposition to climate action relative to increasing cost paths. Preferences for climate cost paths are related to the time horizons of individuals and their desire to smooth consumption over time.

Related articles:
> Why carbon pricing is not sufficient to mitigate climate change—and how “sustainability transition policy” can help // April 2020, PNAS

> Low-carbon transition is improbable without carbon pricing // 22.09.2020, PNAS

> Reply to van den Bergh and Botzen: A clash of paradigms over the role of carbon pricing // 22.09.2020, PNAS

> Swiss Re introduces triple-digit internal carbon levy to support transition to net-zero emissions in operations by 2030 // 15.09.2020, SwissRe Press release

(Credit: Wikicommons)

Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

Israel – Arab peace accord fuels hope for surge in scientific collaboration // 21.09.2020, Nature

“Follow the science” – Political leaders must collaborate like scientists to defeat COVID-19 // 18.09.2020, Health Policy Watch
Related articles:
> WHO unveils global plan to fairly distribute COVID-19 vaccine, but challenges await // 21.09.2020, Science
> Global health leaders urge governments to join Covax facility // 23.09.2020, Geneva.Solutions
> US, Russia, China opt out of global plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines // 23.09.2020, Futurism
> China’s coronavirus vaccine shows military’s growing role in medical research // 11.09.2020, Nature

Improving data access democratizes and diversifies science // 22.09.2020, PNAS

Making cyberspace safe for democracy // September 2020, Foreign Affairs

UN 75th anniversary


“We want to see a public-private partnership where NASA can deal with commercial space station providers, so that we can keep a permanent uninterrupted human presence in low Earth orbit after the decommissionning of the International Space Station in 2030. I don’t think it’s in the interest of the nation to build another ISS — I do think it’s in the interest of the nation to support commercial industry, where NASA is a customer.”

Jim Bridenstein, NASA Administrator,
 in SpaceWatch.Gobal


> EU to launch innovation forum as part of Horizon Europe // 24.09.2020, Science|Business
A new platform will bring together universities, industry and policymakers to find ways to promote and better regulate innovation, the European Commission announced at the EU Research and Innovation Days meeting.

CIA’s new tech recruiting pitch: More patents, more profits // 21.09.2020, MIT Technology Review
In a bid to attract and retain top tech talent, the CIA has announced the formation of CIA Labs, a new venture designed to encourage innovation in “artificial intelligence, data analytics, biotechnology, advanced materials, and high-performance quantum computing.”

> New World Robotics 2020 Industrial Report // 24.09.2020, presented by the International Federation of Robotics

 What would happen if Mark Zuckerberg deleted all of Facebook? // 21.09.2020, Gizmodo

«Facebook scheisst auf das Recht» – dies zu ändern, ist die Mission von Datenschützer Max Schrems // 21.09.2020, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

UK to test vaccines on volunteers deliberately infected with Covid-19 // 23.09.2020, Financial Times
Related article in Science: Self-experimentation, ethics, and regulation of vaccines


The challenging balance between AI, modernity and free will // 22.09.2020, Geneva.Solutions
Jovan Kurbalija, Executive Director of the DiploFoundation and Director of the Geneva Internet Platform, helps us reflect on the path we have taken and the AI-driven tools we’ve contributed to shaping the future, and connect with our humanity.

> Regina Barzilay wins $1M Squirrel AI award // 23.09.2020, MIT News
The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence has named Professor Regina Barzilay the inaugural winner of the $1 million Squirrel AI Award for AIfor the Benefit of Humanity, for her work developing machine learning models to develop antibiotics and other drugs, and to detect and diagnose breast cancer at early stages.

> Sandro Giuliani about science anticipation // 21.09.2020, The Do One Better! Podcast
Executive Director of the Impact Fund and Forum at GESDA (Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator), Sandro Giuliani, discusses future scientific breakthroughs and international development.


> Five books that grapple with the thorny issue of genetics and race // September 2020, NEO.LIFE


> Official UN event on the urgent need to finance ambitious action on Nature // 28.09.2020, 2pm CET, organized by Campaign for Nature,  in the context of the UNDP Nature for Life Hub event "Learning for Nature"

> Anticipating the challenges of implementing a COVID-19 vaccine: how can we prepare? // 29.09.2020, organized by AAAS
The panel of experts will confront some of the pressing issues that may arise once a vaccine is brought to market, such as diversity in clinical trials and vaccine efficacy, addressing bases for vaccine hesitancy, population prioritization, and challenges for equitable distribution.

"Genome editing in Europe: new agenda or new disputes?" // 01-02.10.2020, organized by DFG and Leopolodina

2020: The challenges of social inclusion (by Juan Manuel Santos, former President of Colombia) // 06.10.2020 at 3pm, organized by The Graduate Institute

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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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