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

16-23 April 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> A global tipping point for reining in tech has arrived // 20.04.2021, New York Times
Never before have so many countries, including China, moved with such vigor at the same time to limit the power of a single industry.
Related article: Tech shows that side effects aren't just for vaccines // 21.04.2021, AXIOS

(© DR)


> Will quantum computing ever live up to its hype? // 20.04.2021, Scientific American
One expert warns that the field is overpromising, while another says his firm is on the verge of building “useful” machines.

(©Getty Images)


> How to prepare for a "megadisaster" // 19.04.2021, Columbia Magazine
Submerged cities. Food shortages. Attacks on the electrical grid. Bioterrorism. It’s time to get ready for tomorrow’s catastrophes.

(©Deborah Lee)


> Tech Trends 2021 // April 2021, Deloitte
Emerging technologies are reimagining how we organize, operate, and strategize. How can you embrace technology to augment human decision-making, rethink your workplace and customer experiences, and bolster equity initiatives?


> How COVID spurred Africa to plot a vaccines revolution // 21.04.2021, Nature
For decades, Africa has imported 99% of its vaccines. Now the continent’s leaders want to bring manufacturing home.

A shipment of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines lands at Abidjan, Ivory Coast. The African Union wants most vaccines to be produced on the continent by 2040 (©Sia Kambou/AFP/Getty)


> SDG Lab 2020 Annual Report // 13.04.2021, SDG Lab
2020 was an unprecedented year of challenges and uncertainties. It was also a year of adaptation and resilience. Despite the difficult context linked to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the SDG Lab team continued to deliver significant results in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Discover the Lab’s key activities and milestones for 2020 in its Annual Report. The 2020 report presents five main sections: Engaging the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem; Supporting country SDG challenges; Positioning sustainable finance for the SDGs; Communicating for the goals; and Streamlining SDG Lab operations. The Lab’s 2020 report also provides a forward-looking overview of 2021 priorities and insights. In doing so, the Lab team contributes to positioning the Goals as the global roadmap for a post-pandemic recovery and ensuring that the SDGs remain at the centre of efforts to build forward better–together.


> Biotechnology for tomorrow’s world: scenarios to guide directions for future innovation // May 2021, Trends in Biotechnology
Identifying most relevant social, economic, and technological trends can help us understand in which direction future worlds could develop. Extrapolating long-term impact of current developments on the way we live may open avenues of biotechnology discovery research that would provide the starting basis for research and innovation addressing future needs. Maximizing innovation output in biotechnology requires a continuous cross-stakeholder interaction to timely share know–how obtained from discovery research in formats tailored to stakeholder use requirements.


> The Red Sea, the last « refuge » for corals on Earth: a first transnational scientific expedition to be launched from Aqaba in June 2021 // 22.04.2021, Transnational Red Sea Center
The Swiss initiative bridging science and diplomacy for the preservation of the Red Sea corals, which have developed resistance to climate change, symbolically announces from the Three Cultures Foundation in Seville the launch of its activities involving Arab and Israeli researchers.

Entretien avec Anders Meibom, de l’EPFL: La diplomatie suisse au service des coraux de la mer rouge // 23.04.2021, RTS Radio



Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI


Honeywell just released details about how its quantum computer works // 19.04.2021, SingularityHub
Related press release by Honeywell

Materials for quantum // 21.04.2021, Kavli Foundation
Materials scientists likely hold the key to unlocking the quantum computing revolution

Physicists have created a new and extremely rare kind of uranium // 16.04.2021, NewScientist

Artificial intelligence

> Artificial Intelligence, facial recognition face curbs in new EU proposal // 21.04.2021, Wall Street Journal
Related officiel Press release: Europe fit for the Digital Age: Commission proposes new rules and actions for excellence and trust in Artificial Intelligence // 21.04.2021, European Commission
Related article: This has just become a big week for AI regulation // 21.04.2021, MIT Technology Review

Redisigning AI // 14.04.2021, Boston Review
The direction of AI development is not preordained. It can be altered to increase human productivity, create jobs and shared prosperity, and protect and bolster democratic freedoms – if we modify our approach.
> People have the AI power // 20.04.2021, Nature Machine Intelligence
> Hackers used to be humans. Soon, AIs will hack humanity // 19.04.2021, WIRED

> Decoding coded bias for a more equitable artificial intelligence // 21.04.2021, GenevaSolutions

> Move over Artificial Intelligence, there is a new AI in town // 19.04.2021, Forbes

> Geoffrey Hinton has a hunch about what’s next for AI // 16.04.2021, MIT Technology Review
A decade ago, the artificial-intelligence pioneer transformed the field with a major breakthrough. Now he’s working on a new imaginary system named GLOM.


Platform 2: Human Augmentation

Longevity and health

First GM pigs for allergies. Could xenotransplants be next? // 12.04.2021, Nature Biotechnology
Advancing the ethical dialogue about monkey/human chimeric embryos // 15.04.2021, Cell
Related article: Scientists grew human cells in monkey embryos, and yes, it’s an ethical minefield // 20.04.2021, SingularityHub

> Developers of microbiome-based drugs face challenges. There are ways to overcome them // 16.04.2021, STAT


> Neuropixels 2.0: A miniaturized high-density probe for stable, long-term brain recordings // 16.04.2021, Science

> Primate cell fusion disentangles gene regulatory divergence in neurodevelopment // 17.03.2021, Nature

> The coolest technology changing neuroscience in 2021 // 02.04.2021, Medium

> Neuralink’s monkey experiment raises questions from scientists and tech ethicist // 13.04.2021, The Observer


International reporting mechanism for unethical germline gene editing experiments is needed // May 2021, Trends in biotechnology

CRISPR : une seconde révolution est en cours ! // 21/04/202, Futura.Santé

> Beam Therapeutics unveils new CRISPR base editing tool to target the sickle cell mutation // 20.04.2021, STAT+

New approach to gene therapy bypasses “broken” genes // 22.04.2021, Technology Networks

> This California based startup is using the power of metagenomics and machine learning to discover novel genome editing systems // 21.04.2021,

> The next frontier // April 2021 issue, Chemical&Engineering News
New labs take on new science in cell and gene therapy services

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Perovskite solar cells exceed 25% power-conversion efficiency // 20.04.2021, EPFL news

> Taking carbon dioxide without a grain of salt // 19.04.2021, Nature Energy


DNA robots designed in minutes instead of days // 19.04.2021,

> A portable device for taking DNA measurements in the field // 21.04.2021, EPFL news

> Chickens and pigs with integrated genetic scissors // 20.04.2021, Technical University of Munich


La gestion des débris spatiaux devient l’une des priorités de l’ESA // 20.04.2021, Le Temps
Related conference by ESA (VIDEO): 8th European Conference on Space Debris // 20-23.04.2021, ESA

> How can space support green financial innovation? // 21.04.2021, ESA

> EU must do more to exploit space research // 22.04.2021, Science|Business

> Russia mulls withdrawing from the International Space Station after 2024 // 20.04.2021, Science
Related article: Russia says to launch own space station in 2025 // 20.04.2021, AFP

> Moon missions generate $42bn over next decade, NSR says // 22.04.2021, SpaceWatch.Global

> Space Café Summit “Occupy Space – Where are we going?” // 19.03.2021, SpaceWatch.Global
Can regulation match innovation in a space race? 3 experts discuss


Nasa's rover makes breathable oxygen on Mars // 22.04.2021, BBC

> Combined innovations in public policy, the private sector and culture can drive sustainability transitions in food systems // 15.04.2021, Nature Food

> Food as a commodity, human right or common good // 11.03.2021, Nature Food

> ESA and FAO unite to tackle food security and more // 20.04.2021, ESA

> Big agriculture is best // 18.04.2021, Foreign Policy
The United States’ industrialized food system moved millions of people out of poverty and is better for the environment, too.

> Robots to fan out across world's oceans to monitor their health // 21.04.2021, Yahoo!News

> Ocean benefits increasingly undermined by human activity, UN assessment reveals // 21.04.2021, UN News

> Is global microbial biodiversity increasing, decreasing, or staying the same? // 19.04.2021, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

> Metagenomic analysis reveals global-scale patterns of ocean nutrient limitation // 16.04.2021, Science


Climate and environment

Climate emergency: The new science showing it’s make-or-break time // 21.04.2021, New Scientist

Humanity’s greatest ally against climate change is the Earth itself // 22.04.2021, Washington Post
Ecosystems can draw down carbon and buffer us from the worst effects of climate change — but only if we protect them.

Reflections and projections on a decade of climate science // 04.04.2021, Nature Climate Change

The quest to put carbon to rest at sea // 22.04.2021, AXIOS

Cities are our best hope for surviving climate change // 21.04.2021, Bloomberg
Related article: Cities as a climate survival mechanism (Op-Ed by Kim Stanley) // 17.04.2021, Bloomberg Green

Startups cutting emissions from concrete win $20 Million Xprize // 19.04.2021, Bloomberg Green
CarbonCure Technologies and CarbonBuilt Inc. took home the grand prize.

Sino-U.S. Competition is good for climate change efforts // 21.04.2021, Foreign Policy

U.S. pledges to halve its emissions by 2030 in renewed climate fight // 22.04.2021, Reuters
Related official statement by the White House: President Biden Sets 2030 greenhouse gas pollution reduction target aimed at creating good-paying union jobs and securing U.S. leadership on clean energy technologies
Live coverage from the Guardian of the Leaders Summit on Climate.

Elon Musk and Peter Diamandis discuss the largest incentive prize in history - the $100M XPRIZE Carbon Removal // 22.04.2021, XPrize Foundation

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

Rethinking supply chains (SPECIAL REPORT) // April 2021, Financial Times
From the US-China trade war, to Brexit, to pandemic-led delays to manufacturing and shipping, the global supply chain is firmly in the spotlight. How is the business of trade adapting in a changing world?

> Bill Gates is ready to spend more on global health - governments should do the same, says foundation official //22.04.2021, GenevaSolutions
The Covid-19 pandemic had exposed a “fundamental vulnerability in the global health architecture” - one where global bodies like the World Health Organization are too reliant on private donors and members states need to step up, a director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has said.

> EU to establish climate change science advisory board // 22.04.2021, Science|Business

> Lever les brevets sur les vaccins? La question fait débat à Genève // 08.04.2021,

> Data Is Power // May/June 2021, Foreign Affairs
Washington Needs to Craft New Rules for the Digital Age


> Blanket bans on fossil-fuel funds will entrench poverty (Op-Ed by Vijaya Ramachandran, Breakthrough Institute in Berkeley) // 22.04.2021, Nature

> Understanding Chinese science: New scientometric perspectives // 08.04.2021, MIT Press direct

> Leading CEOs call for €100B technology sovereignty fund //20.04.2021, Science|Business
The EU wants to become an innovation powerhouse. The heads of 33 ‘unicorn’ tech companies have drawn up an eight step plan for getting there and called for funding to put it into action

> 10 innovations qui pourraient révolutionner le monde de demain // 15.04.2021, WeDemain

> Après le décès de John Naisbitt, les futuristes revoient leur avenir // 19.04.2021, Le Temps
L’auteur du bestseller «Megatrends» est décédé début avril à 92 ans. Le pionnier des tendances séculaires avait insisté sur la nécessité de privilégier le long terme. Aujourd’hui, certaines entreprises évaluent les besoins dans 1000 ans.

> The Anthropocene is overrated // 16.04.2021, Foreign Policy
The way we talk about climate change and our effect on the planet is all wrong—and increasingly dangerous.


Tra cooperazione transfrontaliera e gestione della pandemia // 16.04.2021, Corriere del Ticino
Su invito del consigliere federale Ignazio Cassis si è svolto a Lugano l’incontro annuale tra i cinque ministri degli esteri di lingua tedesca. Durante la riunione si è parlato anche della crescente importanza della diplomazia scientifica (science diplomacy) nelle relazioni internazionali. La fondazione Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), con Peter-Brabeck Letmathe (Chairman), ha presentato il suo lavoro in questo campo. (©DR)
Related press release from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Rafael Reif, MIT’s president, urges two-track strategy to achieve global climate goals in 30 years // 19.04.2021, BostonGlobe
In a Boston Globe op-ed, MIT’s president argues that the US must invest in new breakthroughs while also deploying all available tools today. (©DR)
Related MIT news.

Sascha Zahnd devient le nouveau président de digitalswitzerland // 16.04.2021, Digital Switzerland
Sascha Zahnd deviendra le président du comité exécutif de l’initiative locale à compter du 1er juillet 2021. Il succèdera à Ivo Furrer, qui restera impliqué au sein de digitalswitzerland en tant que membre du conseil d’administration. Sascha Zahnd a été l’un des plus proches collaborateurs d’Elon Musk, le fondateur de Tesla, jusqu’à la fin de l’année 2020. (©DR)

Why trust science? // April 2021, Skeptic
In this interview, based on her landmark book, Why Trust Science?, historian of science Naomi Oreskes offers a bold and compelling defense of science, revealing why the social character of scientific knowledge is its greatest strength — and the greatest reason we can trust it. (©DR)


> WHO holds first ever pre-world health assembly session with civil society // 20.04.2021, Health Policy Watch

> Science journalism grows up (Editorial by Deborah Blum) // 23.04.2021, Science

> International Sharing of Personal Health Data for Research // 08.04.2021, EASAC
Personal health data provide a vital resource for research to save and improve lives, reduce health inequalities and benefit society. Research data should be regarded as a global public good. Sharing of data is an essential part of public sector medical research for improved health care and disease prevention, for example to ensure sufficiently large sample sizes, identify complex pathways, and compare the determinants and outcomes of disease in different settings, thereby making the most of the contribution by patients and volunteers to research. It is important for EU citizens that their data are shared for health research, to ascertain whether research results from elsewhere are relevant to their particular genetic makeup and risk factors. At the same time, it is essential to provide appropriate protections for personal data privacy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) addresses the protection of personal data in the European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) and the international transfer of data to areas outside the region. It has become apparent that the implementation of the GDPR has introduced impediments to this international transfer of data to outside the EU/EEA, creating problems for academic researchers, healthcare professionals and others in the public sector. These problems affect patients and all citizens who are the ultimate beneficiaries of public sector health research.


> A new book explores how military funding shaped the science of oceanography // 16.04.2021, ScienceNews
In Science on a Mission, Naomi Oreskes argues that the U.S. Navy both enabled and stymied research


> Atlas of AI: power, politics, and the planetary costs of artificial intelligence, by Kate Crawford // April 2021
What happens when artificial intelligence saturates political life and depletes the planet? How is AI shaping our understanding of ourselves and our societies? In this book Kate Crawford reveals how this planetary network is fueling a shift toward undemocratic governance and increased racial, gender, and economic inequality. Drawing on more than a decade of research, award-winning science, and technology, Crawford reveals how AI is a technology of extraction: from the energy and minerals needed to build and sustain its infrastructure, to the exploited workers behind "automated" services, to the data AI collects from us. Rather than taking a narrow focus on code and algorithms, Crawford offers us a political and a material perspective on what it takes to make artificial intelligence and where it goes wrong. While technical systems present a veneer of objectivity, they are always systems of power. This is an urgent account of what is at stake as technology companies use artificial intelligence to reshape the world.


> Brave green world: how science can save our planet, by Chris Forman and Clair Asher // March 2021
In nature, there is little chemical waste; nearly every atom is a resource to be utilized by organisms, ensuring that all the available matter remains in a perpetual cycle. By contrast, human systems of energy production and manufacturing are linear; the end product is waste. In Brave Green World, Chris Forman and Claire Asher show what our linear systems can learn from the efficient circularity of ecosystems. They offer an unblinkered yet realistic and positive vision of a future in which we can combine biology and manufacturing to solve our central problems of waste and pollution. Forman and Asher, both scientists and accomplished science communicators, explain how 3D printing and additive manufacturing processes, combined with synthetic biology technologies, could give companies complete control over their entire manufacturing chain—including the waste. They describe AI as the magic ingredient that can create advanced automated systems that generate the molecular, nanoscale, and macroscale tools designers need to fabricate a circular economy, and they argue that emerging new forms of computation in smart materials could be the backbone of our future infrastructure. Forman and Asher boldly address the large-scale issues of climate change, describing how the fusion of cutting-edge manufacturing and biology can offer solutions to Earth's existential crisis. Woven throughout the book is a provocative case study: how to grow an all-natural smart phone.


> CRISPR and somatic gene expression // 28.04.2021, 4pm CET, organized by Scnat/Forum for Genetic Research
The CRISPR/Cas technology has revolutionized the field of genome editing. The technology has been widely adopted in research and is leading to the development of a wide range of applications. But how do we deal with new technologies like CRISPR as a society? Is CRISPR the new golden standard in somatic gene therapy? How can CRISPR contribute to agriculture and food production? And who will have the right to use the technology in the future?  Come and join the conversation with scientists in the field in our webinars!


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.

Mailing address:
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