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

02-09 November 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Influential US astronomy list calls for giant telescope to spot an Earth analog // 01.11.2021, Science
After nearly 3 years of deliberation, a panel of U.S. astronomers says the country’s biggest priority for the field should be an $11 billion, 6-meter space telescope – roughly the same cost and size of the James Webb Space Telescope, set to launch next month, but centered on the optical part of the spectrum. The panel’s report “Astro2020”, known as the U.S. astronomy decadal survey, says such a telescope, which wouldn’t launch until the 2040s, would “have the potential to profoundly change the way that human beings view our place in the universe.

Related report: Astro2020


> Ikaria - the island of mysterious longevity // 04.11.2021, NEO.LIFE
Why do the inhabitants of this tiny Greek island live so long? It may be something in the rocks.


> The Role of Science in the Swiss Policy Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic (report) // 02.11.2021, Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences
What role did science play in managing the Covid-19 pandemic from January to December 2020? In what way did the Swiss experience differ from selected other countries? Where is there a need for action in the future?  The first comprehensive study on the role of science in the pandemic policy response shows a positive track record but also identifies a need for optimization.


> The United Nations could finally create new rules for space // 03.11.2021, WIRED
The proposal to create a process for preventing military confrontations and misunderstandings in orbit would be the first major step in more than 40 years.

Related article: UN Committee votes ‘Yes’ on UK-US-backed space rules group // 01.11.2021, Breaking Defense

(© Missile Defense Agency)


> Quantum technologies' journey to space seen in patent survey // 04.11.2021, ESA
Tipped to change the world, quantum technologies – employing special properties of matter that manifest at the very tiniest of scales – are heading to space too. To highlight the space applications of this emerging sector, ESA has supported the European Patent Office and the European Space Policy Institute in a survey of the past two decades of related patent filings.


> Adaptation Gap Report 2021 // 04.11.2021, UNEP
Even as the world looks to step up efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the need to adapt to the impacts of climate change already locked in are just as important. The sixth edition of the UNEP "Adaptation Gap Report: The Gathering Storm" looks at how the world is doing in adapting to these intensifying impacts.


> GESDA: Blick in die Zukunft // 04.11.2021,
Ansprache von Bundesrat Ignazio Cassis, Vizepräsident des Bundesrates und Vorsteher des Eidgenössischen Departements für auswärtige Angelegenheiten EDA gehalten anlässlich Dies Academicus der Universität Luzern: “Was wir hier mit GESDA versuchen, ist neu. Und damit schwierig. Die Kombination von Antizipation – die weit vorausschaut – und Aktion – die unmittelbar greifen muss – ist schon eine Herausforderung an sich. Und die Methode, mit der wir diese Brücke schlagen wollen, ist für alle Teilnehmer neu und unerprobt. Persönlich habe ich aber noch keinen besseren Vorschlag gesehen, wie sich die Staatengemeinschaft dank einer klugen Wissenschaftsdiplomatie für die Herausforderungen der kommenden rüsten kann. Wir erschaffen hier ein Instrument, das in Genf beheimatet ist und aus Genf heraus operiert.”

(© Universität Luzern)


> Les sciences océaniques sont essentielles dans la lutte contre le changement climatique // 25.10.2021, Ifremer
L’Ifremer, le CNRS et l’IRD, avec le soutien de la Plateforme Océan & Climat et de l’astronaute de l’ESA Thomas Pesquet, lancent un tour du monde digital des sciences océaniques et climatiques, baptisé OneOceanScience. Des scientifiques du monde entier participent. Ensemble, ils expliquent pourquoi les sciences océaniques sont essentielles pour mieux connaître et protéger l’Océan - « Why ocean science matters? ». Ils lancent aujourd’hui un appel d’urgence : l’Océan nous concerne tous et il doit être au cœur des négociations sur le climat.


> Protecting and promoting young people’s futures: Governing Health Futures 2030 Report launches // 25.10.2021, Fondation Botnar
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the critical role technologies play in ensuring that young people can continue to exercise their rights, including accessing essential health resources and services. It has also highlighted that not equipping ourselves with the right tools to roll out these technologies safely, equitably, and efficiently could represent a significant missed opportunity for the world and prevent us from ever achieving the goal of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).


> Resilient Cities Network launches new tool to help cities embed equity in climate ready urban infrastructure projects // 03.11.2021, Resilient Cities Network press release
The Resilient Cities Network (R-Cities), an independent city-led global non-profit organisation that promotes urban resilience, today announced the Resilient Infrastructure Diversity and Equity (RIDE) Scorecard. The tool provides a framework for assessing resilient infrastructure projects according to key criteria for social and racial equity, the creation of green jobs, and climate-readiness. The RIDE Scorecard is the first of its kind to provide a transparent and fair methodology for evaluating the equity of proposed resilient infrastructure projects. The tool is structured in such a way that allows for flexibility and adaptation for cities to tailor use according to an individual community’s economic and geographic priorities with scoring criteria that can be weighted.

© Resilient Cities Network


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Artificial intelligence

> The future of AI is a conversation with a computer // 01.11.2021, The Verge

> Machines learn good from commonsense norm bank // 03.11.2021, IEEE Spectrum

Alphabet has a new drug discovery company building on DeepMind’s AI chops // 04.11.2021, STAT+

The synthetic data that will help build AI and the metaverse // 03.11.2021, Axios

The Guardian view on spooky science: AI needs regulating before it’s too late // 01.11.2021, The Guardian

Quantum and physics 

> Einstein's theory of relativity could help stop bank account hackers // 03.11.2021, New Scientist
Having to hand over your PIN to access your bank account puts you at risk of hackers, but the fact that information can't travel faster than light, as laid out by Albert Einstein, could offer a solution, thanks to University of Geneva scientists.

All-in-one quantum key distribution system makes its debut // 02.11.2021, Physics World

ColdQuanta’s pioneering culture is poised for a bold quantum future // 02.11.2021, The Quantum Daily

A new quantum computing method is 2,500 percent more efficient // 05.11.2021, Interesting Engineering

© Istock

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> DA, NIH announce bespoke gene therapy consortium to focus on rare diseases // 28.10.2021, Newsweek

Personalized RNA drugs may soon be available for more rare genetic diseases // 03.11.2021, Science

Can DNA testing offer personalized diet advice? Nope, not yet // 03.11.2021, ACSH

CRISPR-based 'antibiotic' eliminates dangerous bacterium from the gut // 05.11.2021, New Scientist

Gene-edited stem cells help geckos regrow more perfect tails // 01.11.2021, Science News


> A new kind of brain scan is letting us understand how toddlers think // 03.11.2021, New Scientist

Closed-loop enhancement and neural decoding of cognitive control in humans // 01.11.2021, Nature

Sponge cells hint at origins of nervous system // 05.11.2021, Nature

Longevity and health

> Les ambitions de l’ARPA-H, le projet d’agence fédérale pour la recherche biomédicale, face aux réserves du Congrès // 04.11.2021, Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis

Emerging dynamics from high-resolution spatial numerical epidemics // 15.10.2021, eLife

These mice pups inherited immunity from their parents – but not through DNA // 02.11.2021, Singularity Hub

Skin, nerve transplants from genetically modified pigs could help humans, but organs are a way off // 01.11.2021, Science

(© Joe Carrotta/NYU Langone Health)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Carbon dioxide can be turned into a valuable resource // 03.11.2021, PSI press release

Mutant microbe produces carbon-neutral biofuel // 04.11.2021, Futurity

New East Bay facility producing lab-grown meat plans to produce 400,000 pounds per year // 04.11.2021, San Francisco Chronicle

Are vegan meat alternatives putting our health on the line? // 27.10.2021, New Scientist


‘A rather beautiful concept’: plan aims to replace Asia’s coal plants with renewable energy // 02.10.2021, Science

US to build its first small modular nuclear reactor in Romania // 04.11.2021, Science|Business

Helion secures $2.2B to commercialize fusion energy // 05.11.2021, TechCrunch


Blood tests reveal brain damage following long-term spaceflight // 04.11.2021, Physics World

Earth’s space debris crisis could be solved using ‘never been done’ magnet technology // 01.11.2021, The Independent

> The complicated promise of Amazon’s space internet // 03.11.2021, VOX

Climate and environment

COP26: 105 countries pledge to cut methane emissions by 30 per cent // 02.11.2021, New Scientist

Le marché carbone, enjeu majeur de la COP26 // 08.11.2021, Le Temps

The climate won’t wait. We need a carbon tax now // 29.10.2021, Financial Times
Related Opinion: COP26 should not forget about carbon pricing (opinion) // 06.11.2021, Financial Times

EU teams up with Bill Gates in €820M climate tech investment deal // 04.11.2021, Science|Business

Reframing incentives for climate policy action // 04.11.2021, Nature Energy

The Clean Cow: cutting the carbon footprint of US beef production (report) // 02.11.2021, The Breakthrough Institute

It’s time to delete carbon from the atmosphere. But how? // 05.11.2021, WIRED

Blue carbon as a natural climate solution // 01.11.2021, Nature Reviews Earth & Environment

The enormous hole that whaling left behind // 03.11.2021, The Atlantic
The mass slaughter of whales destroyed far more than the creatures themselves.

(© Nature)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> Why Africa must invest in science // 28.10.2021,

Inside the echo chamber of European research cooperation // 02.11.2021, Science|Business

Scientists call for IPCC-like group on chemical pollution // 29.10.2021, Chemical & Engineering News
UN Environment Assembly likely to vote in 2022 on whether to form panel.

Ignore China’s new data privacy law at your peril // 05.11.2021, WIRED
The Personal Information Protection Law gives authorities the power to impose huge fines and blacklist companies. But the biggest impact may be felt outside the country.

> Pandemic treaty offers opportunity to correct COVID-19 weaknesses, address equity // 9.11.2021, Health Policy Watch
Based on this article: How an outbreak became a pandemic: a chronological analysis of crucial junctures and international obligations in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic // 08.11.2021, Lancet

A nurse takes the temperature of a child suspected of COVID symptoms in a Lebanese public health centre.


> James Beware: Gaia may destroy humans before we destroy the Earth, says James Lovelock // 02.11.2021, The Guardian

Into the metaverse: how sci-fi shapes our attitudes to the future // 02.11.2021, Financial Times

The singularity is here // 05.11.2021, The Atlantic
Artificially intelligent advertising technology is poisoning our societies.

Scientists: don’t feed the doubt machine // 02.11.2021, Nature

America needs a new scientific revolution // 05.11.2021, The Atlantic

How to predict the future(s) // 06.11.2021, Axios
Based on this article by Salesforce: The pandemic era has begun: how to navigate challenges and opportunities in an uncertain future // 16.09.2021, Salesforce

(© DR)


> From Glasgow to Geneva: reflections on Cop26 so far // 03.11.2021, Geneva Solutions
The urgent climate issues being discussed at Cop26 touch almost every area of work in international Geneva, from health to human rights. But we need to break down the silos between them, says Simon Manley, the UK’s Permanent Representative to the UN, WTO and other IOs in Geneva. (Photo: DR)

> Why Africa urgently needs its own genetic library // 02.11.2021, BBC
It was just a "crazy idea" to start with, says Ambroise Wonkam, professor of medical genetics at Cape Town university in South Africa, who was a speaker at the recent 2021 GESDA Summit. (© Elna Schultz)

Ré-enchanter l’humain - vers un impératif catégorique? // 11.10.2021, The Graduate Institute
Editorial de Marie-Laure Salles, directrice de l'Institut. (Photo: DR)



> Swiss Digital Initiative unveils the Digital Trust Label Seal // 03.11.2021, Swiss Digital Initiative
The Swiss Digital Initiative is developing the world's first Label to test and certify the trustworthiness of digital services. For the first time, SDI is now presenting the Digital Trust Label seal. From 2022, the Digital Trust Label will enable users to recognise trustworthy digital services at a glance. From now on, interested companies can register and be among the first whose digital services will be certified with the Digital Trust Label. To place the Label in the broader context of Digital Trust, the Swiss Digital Initiative is publishing a whitepaper with a holistic vision for trust in the digital world.


> Life As We Made It review: should we go all in on gene-editing tech? // 03.11.2021, New Scientist
Look around you, and the results of humanity’s time on Earth are plain to see. Our species has been changing and refining the environment for generations. Landscapes and habitats that we take for granted as “natural” would look and behave very differently if humans hadn’t come on the scene – and that’s before you factor in our effects on other species. In Life As We Made It, Beth Shapiro, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, explores the ways that humans have transformed the world around us. In doing so, we have taken the reins of not only our own evolution, but also that of many other species, for better or worse.


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 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:
Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator
c/o Fondation Campus Biotech
Chemin des Mines 9
1202 Geneva
+41 58 201 02 61

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