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

17-23 October 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).


> To think your way out of a crisis, look beyond it // 21.10.2020, MIT Technology Review
One of humanity’s biggest failings is our inability to escape the present moment and look further ahead. This condition is neither permanent nor new, but it becomes especially acute during times of crisis, writes editor-in-chief Gideon Lichfield.

Focus on this piece: Humanity is stuck in short-term thinking. Here’s how we escape.

MIT Technology Review cover


> In new strategy, Wellcome Trust will take on global health challenges // 19.10.2020, Science
One of the world’s largest nongovernmental funders of science, the Wellcome Trust, is enlarging its focus to include goal-oriented, as well as basic research. The London-based philanthropy, which spends more than £1 billion per year, said it will boost funding for research on infectious diseases, the health effects of global warming, and mental health.

Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and GESDA Board member, explains the move on Twitter (click on the image):


The imperative of a new multilateralism – enhanced by science (Op-Ed by Michael Møller) // 10.10.2020, Geneva Solutions
"The importance of science and technology in how we manage the problems of our world and, more importantly, in how we shape our future, is becoming more evident than ever, writes Michael Møller, chairman of GESDA’s Diplomacy Forum. GESDA was created to help ensure that the technologies of tomorrow are shaped to maximize their benefits to humanity and, in doing so, to provide tangible proof that truly collaborative, multilateral approaches to problem-solving have the best chances of success", says Michael Møller, former DG of the UN office in Geneva, now Chairman of GESDA's Diplomacy Forum, and chapter author of the recently published book "100 ans de multilatéralisme à Genève: de la SDN à l'ONU" (Editions Suzanne Hurter) (see caption).



USA, Chine, Russie, Europe… vers une nouvelle course à l’espace // Oct-Nov 2020, Diplomatie
Numéro entier consacré à l’attrait renouvelé pour la conquête spatiale, avec de nouveaux acteurs, publics et surtout privés, et la militarisation ainsi que la quête de nouvelles ressources en toile de fond.

Also on the same issues:

> Artemis Accords: why many countries are refusing to sign Moon exploration agreement // 19.10.2020, The Conversation

> The Artemis Accords and lunar exploration – revolution and evolution (Op-Ed by Christopher J.Newman, Northumbria University) // 21.10.2020,
Eight countries have signed the Artemis Accords, a set of guidelines surrounding the Artemis Program for crewed exploration of the Moon.


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI

Quantum & Physics

> The emerging commercial landscape of quantum computing // 12.10.2020, Nature Reviews Physics

> Pathways to scalable quantum technologies (PODCASTt) // 15.10.2020, Physics World

> First room-temperature superconductor excites — and baffles — scientists // 14.10.2020, Nature news
Based on this Nature article: Room-temperature superconductivity in a carbonaceous sulfur hydride 

> Toshiba targets US$3 billion revenue in quantum cryptography by 2030 // 18.10.2020, Channel NewsAsia

Artificial intelligence

> New centre for AI research opens at ETHZ // 20.10.2020, ETHZ press release
A core team of initially 29 professorships, a new executive director and a Fellowship programme aim to promote interdisciplinary research into this key technology.

> Artificial general intelligence: are we close, and does it even make sense to try? // 15.10.2020, MIT Technology Review

> AGI safety from first principles // 28.09.2020, AI Alignment Forum

> It’s time to rethink the legal treatment of robots // 22.10.2020, MIT Technology Review

> A system hierarchy for brain-inspired computing // 14.10.2020, Nature

> I-DAIR promises responsible solutions from new health technology // 15.10.2020, Geneva Solutions
> I-DAIR (Advancing Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Research through Collaboration) launch event // 13.10.2020, I-DAIR 
Video replay of the launch of the project accompanied by GESDA:

Platform 2: Human augmentation

Longevity & Health

> New applications for organoids from human intestinal tissue // 14.10.2020, TU München press release

> Lab-grown mini-lungs mimic the real thing - right down to COVID-19 infection // 22.10.2020, Cell Stem Cell

> How anti-ageing drugs could boost COVID vaccines in older people // 14.10.2020, Nature

> Scientists show jet lag impairs immune response in mice // 22.10.2020, NSF Press release


CRISPR Therapeutics’ CAR-T treatment shows encouraging results, but one death is tied to therapy // 21.10.2020, STAT+

> CRISPR therapy restores retinal and visual function in mice // 20.10.2020, Technology Networks

> Scientists use gene therapy and a novel light-sensing protein to restore vision in mice // 21.10.2020, NIH press release

> Fresh off her Nobel Prize win, Jennifer Doudna predicts what’s next for CRISPR // 13.10.2020, Future Human

> As genome-editing trials become more common, informed consent is changing // 12.10.2020, NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

> EU Member states want commission to decide on the use of gene editing in animal and plant breeding // 20.10.2020, Science|Business


> Cognitive performance - better than our predecessors // 21.10.2020, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München - PNAS
But cognitive capacity still begins to stagnate at around the age of 35...

> ‘Junk’ DNA could be rewiring our brains // 16.10.2020, Oxford University press release
Based on a study published in Genome Research

> Scientists found a new way to control the brain with light - no surgery required // 13.10.2020, Singularity Hub

Brain implant bypasses eyes to help blind people see // 15.10.2020, IEEE Spectrum

Blind people are able to "see" such letters as M, N, U, and W through a dynamic new type of brain stimulation. (©Rights reserved)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering


> La compétition internationale pour les technologies bas-carbone : vers une nouvelle géopolitique de l'énergie? // 20.10.2020, IRIS Communiqué de presse

> The next generation of power plants will be virtual // 20.10.2020, The Verge

> Department of Energy picks two advanced nuclear reactors for demonstration projects // 16.10.2020, Science

> Spinach gives fuel cells a power up // 14.10.2020, IEEE Spectrum

> Catching the wave: standard hardware designs and market pull policies are needed to roll out ocean energy // 20.10.2020, Science|Business


> WHO releases a position statement on genetically modified mosquitoes for the control of vector-borne diseases // 19.10.2020, Health Policy Watch

Climate & environment

Set ambitious goals for biodiversity and sustainability (POLICY FORUM)// 23.10.2020, Science

> US election 2020: What the results will mean for climate change // 21.10.2020, BBC

> A controllable membrane to pull carbon dioxide out of exhaust streams // 16.10.2020, MIT News

> Sizing up the environmental cost of digital technologies // 21.10.2020, Geneva Solutions
Also in French here.


The future of space exploration (VIDEO from live event) // 22.10.2020, TIME magazine
With the announcement: SpaceX will build Starlink-like constellation around Mars

> The current state of space debris // 12.10.2020, ESA press release
Based on this report: “ESA’s Annual Space Environment report

> SpaceX teams with Microsoft for Space Development Agency contract // 20.10.2020, SpaceNews

> Towards a better coordinated approach on space cybersecurity // 18.10.2020, SpaceWatch.Global

> Let’s not make Newspace a paradise for hackers (Op-Ed) // 17.10.2020,
By Dr Mathieu Bailly, VP Space & Iot, CYSEC SA, a Swiss cybersecurity company. He oversees product development and activities related to the fast-growing markets of the Internet of Things, Space and Maritime, where cybersecurity is not yet regulated and has become a major concern. 

> NASA makes history with sample of asteroid soil // 21.10.2020, NBC News


Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

Uniting the Techno-Democracies: How to build digital cooperation // Nov-Dec Issue, Foreign Affairs

> Strict biodiversity laws prevent Indian scientists from sharing new microbes with the world // 20.10.2020, Science

> How a ‘new Cold War’ between China and US will hurt researchers everywhere // 20.10.2020, Science|Business

> Elections and cyberspace: are democracies in danger? // 16.10.2020, EPFL press release

> EU to set up BARDA-style biomedical research agency in 2021 // 20.10.2020, Science|Business

> The need for more space laws (CONVERSATION with Ram S. Jakhu, Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law at McGill University, Montreal) // 20.10.2020,

> Accelerating evidence-informed decision-making for the Sustainable Development Goals using machine learning // 12.10.2020, Nature

> How to deal with cybersecurity threats // Nov-Dec Issue, Foreign Affairs

> The pandemic is speeding up automation, and 85 million jobs are on the line // 21.10.2020, CNN Business
Based on this WEF Report



> What are we missing? Predicting the next crisis // Nov-Dec Issue, Foreign Affairs

> Marina Mazzucato: “Les Etats doivent retrouver une vision, un objectif de bien commun” // 13.10.2020, Le Monde

Special section: Trust in science

> Public views about science around the world // October 2020, Pew Research Center

> Global survey finds that vaccine acceptance is associated with trust in government // 20.10.2020, Nature

> Cary Funk: “It is important to engage with people who have a low level of trust in scientists” // 21.10.2020, EU Science-Media Hub
Cary Funk from Pew Research Center talks about the impact of people’s ideology and education on their trust in scientists, medical treatments and vaccines, and how science communication can overcome this.


Le Conseil fédéral nomme Livia Leu au poste de secrétaire d’État et approuve les ajustements structurels du DFAE // 14.10.2020, DFAE Communiqué de presse
Livia Leu, actuellement ambassadrice de Suisse à Paris, reprend dès à présent les rênes de la Direction des affaires européennes (DAE) et devient négociatrice en chef pour les négociations avec l’UE. Elle se voit décerner à cet effet le titre de secrétaire d’État. (©DR)


Beatrice Ferrari: «La Genève internationale post-covid sera plus inclusive» // 17.10.2020, Le Temps
Elle a étudié la géographie, l’anthropologie et l’urbanisme, notamment en Chine. Depuis le 1er janvier 2020, Beatrice Ferrari, de père tessinois et de mère suédoise, est directrice des affaires internationales du canton de Genève. (© Jordi Ruiz Cirera / Panos Pictures)


Trust Valley's Lennig Pedron on turning competition into collaboration // 21.10.2020, Geneva Solutions
Trust Valley is a regional initiative and a public-private partnership that brings together industrial, academic, and political actors in the field of digital trust and cybersecurity. (©DR)



> Introducing SPARKS! Serendipity forum at CERN // 20.10.2020, CERN press release
On 26 November, CERN will launch a multidisciplinary science innovation forum and public event: Sparks! Serendipity forum at CERN. For two days a year, Sparks will bring together renowned scientists from diverse fields around the world, along with decision-makers, representatives of industry, philanthropists, ethicists and the public to address some of the big questions of our time. The forum aims to spark innovation in issues related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics that are relevant to society.

> Réseau swissnex : 20 ans au service des acteurs FRI suisses // 15.10.2020, SEFRI press release

> Scienceville, home of genomic epidemiology // 13.10.2020, The Washington Post
Genetic analysis of which substrains of SARS-CoV-2 are moving through a community can help to pinpoint where outbreaks are starting. The Washington Post uses a fictional town called ‘Scienceville’ to illustrate how the technique works.

> New website puts climate in your hands // 21.10.2020, ESA
Witness the changing planet through the eye of Earth-orbiting satellites with ‘Climate from Space,’ a new interactive website developed by ESA.



> How technology is shaping the future of health care // STATnews e-book

> The alignment problem: machine learning and human values // By Brian Christian
Brian Christian is a visiting scholar at CITRIS and the Simons Institute at UC Berkeley, as well as a CHAI affiliate. He is the author of The Most Human Human, which was named a Wall Street Journal bestseller, a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and a New Yorker favorite book of the year. Prof. Stuart Russell describes The Alignment Problem as "essential reading if you want to understand where our world is heading."


> Launch of State of the Climate in Africa 2019 Report // 26.10.2020, 4 pm CET (online), organized by WMO
The State of the Climate in Africa 2019 report is the first report of its kind. It is a multiagency effort led by the World Meteorological Organization in partnership with key international and continental organizations. It provides a snapshot of climate trends, extreme weather, and associated risks and impacts in key sensitive sectors. The report highlights lessons for climate action in Africa and identifies pathways for addressing critical gaps and challenges.

> The UN: fit for another 75 years… or extinct in 5? // 28.10.2020, 12:30pm (online lecture), organized by the Graduate Institute

The post-2030 European Space Agenda // 28.10 to 02.11.2020 (online), organized by the European Space Policy Institute
The Autumn Conference is a yearly ESPI event where space policy, agency and industry stakeholders come together to discuss issues that affect Europe and the rest of the world.

> Geneva Talks on UN75: A conversation on tech and governance with Brad Smith, President of Microsoft // 26.10.2020, 4pm CET (online), organized by swissnex San Francisco
To commemorate the 75th anniversary of the signing of the UN Charter in San Francisco, swissnex San Francisco and the Consulate General of Switzerland in San Francisco are pleased to host a high level dialogue with Microsoft President, Brad Smith, on the future of multilateralism, and the unique role of the West Coast of the USA and Geneva in crucial debates around cyber peace, digital governance and more.

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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