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

30 November - 07 December 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> In first public speech, UK’s spy chief says country will invest, innovate and collaborate to counter quantum threats // 02.12.2021, The Quantum Insider
Richard Moore, who has served as the MI6 chief since 2020, told that advanced technologies in the hands of adversarial powers, such as Russian, China and Iran, are dramatically changing the security landscape.

Related articles:


> Most advanced lab-grown human embryos prompt a pressing question: Are they getting too real? // 02.12.2021, STAT
The field of synthetic embryology has exploded in recent years. A parade of increasingly lifelike models that mimic portions of an embryo’s journey to personhood promise to shed light on critical moments of human development while providing a more flexible and ethical alternative to the study of human embryos, which has been historically limited by regulations and the willingness of IVF donors. As the science gets more sophisticated, the models become more useful. But each advance raises a new round of ethical questions about where embryo models end and embryos begin. “At some point we have to ask, ‘when does an embryo model become so good that it functionally becomes an embryo?’, said one of the scientists.

Based on a Nature article: Human blastoids model blastocyst development and implantation // 02.12.2021

(© Rivron/Nature/IMBA)


> How to grow the economy with biology // 01.12.2021, Axios

Based on the preliminary report by Schmidt Futures: Public and private funding opportunities to advance a circular U.S. bioeconomy and maintain U.S. biotechnology competitiveness // 01.12.2021
To seed the next wave of innovation in synthetic biology and the bioeconomy, Schmidt Futures launched the Task Force on Synthetic Biology and the Bioeconomy in October 2021 as part of a program to advance transformative bio-based and bio-enabled applications in areas such as clean energy, industry, agriculture, and health.

(© Aïda Amer/Axios)


> Think climate change is messy? Wait until geoengineering // 30.11.2012, WIRED
Someone's bound to hack the atmosphere to cool the planet. So we urgently need more research on the consequences, says climate scientist Kate Ricke. Geoengineering research should be global.

(© Citizen of the planet/Getty Images)


> What humanity should eat to stay healthy and save the planet // 01.12.2021, Nature
What we eat needs to be nutritious and sustainable. Researchers are trying to figure out what that looks like around the world.

(© Paweł Jońca)


> Elon Musk being allowed to ‘make the rules’ in space, ESA chief warns // 05.12.2021, Financial Times
Billionaire’s thousands of satellites risk crowding other operators out of low earth orbits.

Elon Musk has won approval for more than 30,000 satellites through US regulators.
(© Paul Hennessy/SOPA/Getty)


> Green upheaval: the new geopolitics of energy // January 2022, Foreign Affairs
It is not hard to understand why people dream of a future defined by clean energy. As greenhouse gas emissions continue to grow and as extreme weather events become more frequent and harmful, the current efforts to move beyond fossil fuels appear woefully inadequate. Adding to the frustration, the geopolitics of oil and gas are alive and well – and as fraught as ever. Europe is in the throes of a full-fledged energy crisis, with staggering electricity prices forcing businesses across the continent to shutter and energy firms to declare bankruptcy.

Mining for coltan in North Kivu, Congo, September 2013.
(© Marco Gualazzini/Contrasto/Redux)


> The Global AI Index // 02.12.2012, Tortoise Media
Artificial intelligence is a transformative phenomenon in business, government and society. But it is also commonly misunderstood or misrepresented. The Global AI Index is making sense of artificial intelligence in 62 countries around the world. Tortoise Media has examined the forces accelerating development in AI through three pillars of analysis; investment, innovation and implementation.

(© Tortoise Media)


> Technology, Media & Telecommunications Predictions 2022 // December 2021, Deloitte
According to the newsletter Inside AI, Deloitte predicts that regulators will engage in more discussions about regulating AI in 2022, though such laws won't be fully enforced until 2023 or later. The company released its Technology, Media & Telecommunications 2022 Predictions report, which forecasts that these different scenarios will play out in AI over the next two years:

  • Regulations could force some AI stakeholders in different countries to shut down their AI features or get fined.

  • It's possible that the U.S., EU, and China will pass "conflicting AI regulations" that make it difficult if not impossible for companies to comply.

  • One country's regulations could emerge as the "gold standard," similar to the EU's GDPR.

  • AI platforms and vendors could band together and lead conversations about the use and transparency of AI tools, which could lead to more self-regulation and less government oversight.

(© Deloitte)


> Transition 2050: choisir maintenant, agir pour le climat // Décembre 2021, Ademe
Si sa définition est à peu près partagée, le chemin pour l’atteindre reste encore flou, voire totalement inconnu, pour la plupart des décideurs et des citoyens. Face à l’urgence climatique, les changements à opérer sont d’une telle ampleur qu’il est pourtant indispensable d’accélérer les débats sur les choix de société à conduire mais le chemin pour l’atteindre reste encore flou, voire inconnu, pour les décideurs et les citoyens. C'est pourquoi l’ADEME a souhaité soumettre au débat quatre chemins « types », cohérents et contrastés pour conduire la France vers la neutralité carbone.

(© DR)
  • Efforts to build brain-like processors take a number of different forms.
    All of them, however, take inspiration from what neuroscientists have discovered about the structure and operation of the brain.
  • That means building networks of nodes that mimic the action of the brain’s neurons, and having the nodes emit signals in the same way that the neuron soma’s spike to allow neurons to communicate.
  • The topology, size and exact nature of the experimental networks vary immensely, because it is not yet clear how large a network has to be, and how interconnected it must be, for it to demonstrate neural-type properties.
  • Continued progress is likely to require better theoretical underpinnings, conceptual refinements in computational neuroscience and
    better models of the brain’s mechanisms.



Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics

> How much has quantum computing actually advanced? // 02.12.2021, IEEE Spectrum
Q&A with the former chief architect of Google’s Sycamore, John Martinis.

Major quantum computing software and hardware companies are merging // 30.11.2021, Axios

Quantum simulators create a totally new phase of matter // 02.12.2021, Quanta Magazine

> Quantum processor swapped in for a neural network // 06.12.2021, ArsTechnica

> Pushing the limits of quantum sensing with variational quantum circuits // 06.12.2021, Physics

Artificial intelligence and robots  

> DeepMind claims AI has aided new discoveries and insights in mathematics // 01.12.2021, Venture Beat
Based on this Nature article: Advancing mathematics by guiding human intuition with AI

UK government publishes pioneering standard for algorithmic transparency // 29.11.2021,

The movement to hold AI accountable gains more steam // 02.12.2021, WIRED
A New York City law requires algorithms used in hiring to be “audited” for bias. It’s the first in the US - and part of a larger push toward regulation.

A new humanoid robot has the most advanced and realistic facial expressions yet // 03.12.2021, Interesting Engineering

(© Engineered Arts/YouTube)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> Persistence and plasticity in bacterial gene regulation // 25.11.2021, Nature Methods

Gene editing produces all-male or all-female litters of mice // 03.12.2021, Science
CRISPR approach shows promise for curbing culling of lab animals, chicks.


Longevity and health

Why it’s still a scientific mystery how some live past 100 – and how to crack it // 05.12.2021, Singularity Hub

> Grape seed chemical allows mice to live longer by killing aged cells // 06.12.2021, NewScientist

Daisy Robinton is fired up about female longevity // 02.12.2021, NEO.LIFE

Wolbachia as translational science: controlling mosquito-borne pathogens // December 2021, Trends in parasitology


Paradromics: harness your brain's full power // 02.12.2021, Peter Diamandis
Related article: Neuralink competitor raises $20 million for brain implants // 22.07.2021, Bloomberg
Paradromics is one of several companies working on technology to help people interact with the outside world using their mind.

Magnetic resonance: mapping the visual world to the human brain // 03.12.2021, eLife

The science of mind reading // 29.11.2021, The New Yorker
Researchers are pursuing age-old questions about the nature of thoughts – and learning how to read them.

(© Laura Edelbacher)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> Renewables are set to soar // 01.12.2021, Singularity Hub
Related article: Renewable energy capacity soars, just not fast enough // 01.12.2021, Foreign Policy

Tiger Global-backed nuclear fusion group secures $1.8bn in funding // 01.12.2021, Financial Times

Transmutation: cette incroyable technologie antidéchets nucléaires // 05.12.2021, Le Point

Fusion experiments broke records this year, raising hopes for fusion power // 30.11.2021, Chemical & Engineering News

Green ammonia could produce climate-friendly ways to store energy and fertilize farms // 07.12.2021, PNAS


De novo protein design by deep network hallucination // 01.12.2021, Nature

Mining microalgae to reduce carbon emissions // 24.11.2021, Asian Scientist


> White House releases space priorities framework // 01.12.2021, SpaceNews
The White House released Dec. 1 a document that outlines its space policy priorities, including addressing growing military threats and supporting “a rules-based international order for space.”

Mike Griffin critical of U.S. response to China’s advances in hypersonic weapons // 30.11.2021, SpaceNews

Climate and environment

> Blue hydrogen can help protect the climate // 02.12.2021, PSI

This is what it will take to end deforestation by 2030 // 02.12.2021, WIRED

A seagrass harbours a nitrogen-fixing bacterial partner // 03.12.2021, Nature

Le captage du CO2 , une solution d’avenir ? // 29.11.2021, La Croix


> The Government's role in the rise of lab-grown meat // 25.11.2021, WIRED

In the Russian Arctic, one of the most polluted places on Earth // 29.11.2021, Undark
Pollution from Norilsk Nickel has plagued a remote town for decades. Now the smelting company says it can go green.

A rush to mine the deep ocean has environmentalists worried // 03.12.2021, Climate Home News

Farreid glass sponges found at about 2,360 meters deep pictured at the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. (© NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

World commits to a pandemic-response pact: what’s next // 01.12.2021, Nature
After failing to rein in COVID, world leaders begin to shape an accord to prevent future disasters — one that holds them accountable.
Related article: Selon le ministre chilien de la Santé, en informant rapidement sur le variant Omicron, l’Afrique du Sud a fait tout juste // 01.12.2021, Le Temps

The United States needs a department of technology and science policy // 30.11.2021, Nature
Two former NIH directors call for a cabinet-level department to formulate long-range science policy and oversee technology development.

Why Omicron calls for global leaders to participate in inclusivity // 29.11.2021, Forbes

Hackathons and sustainable finance: Geneva initiative takes on the challenge // 03.12.2021, Geneva Solutions

China cements science partnerships, donates 1 billion vaccines // 02.12.2021, University World News

US rejects calls for regulating or banning ‘killer robots’ // 02.12.2021, The Guardian
US official proposes ‘non-binding code of conduct’ at United Nations but campaigners disagree.

Related articles:

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." (© Future of Life Institute)


> Humans are doomed to go extinct // 30.11.2021, Scientific American
Habitat degradation, low genetic variation and declining fertility are setting Homo sapiens up for collapse. 

Why ethics must be built into tech development // 05.12.2021, Financial Times

What’s really behind global vaccine hesitancy // 06.12.2021, The Atlantic
Countries with low vaccination rates are suffering from more than just inequity.

The beautiful experiment // 02.12.2012, aeon
Science has become extraordinarily technocratic and complex. Is the simple and decisive experiment still a worthy ideal?

Isaac Newton’s sketch of the experimentum crucis or crucial experiment, in which light from the Sun is refracted with a camera obscura and two prisms, proving it to be made up of the colours of the rainbow. New College Library, Oxford, MS 361/2, f. 45v (© Courtesy of the Warden and Scholars of New College, Oxford)


El momento de decir adiós // 29.11.2021, UNESCO
Lidia Brito, Directora Oficina Regional de Ciencias de la UNESCO, para América Latina y el Caribe, y GESDA Diplomacy Moderator, asume un nuevo cargo en Zimbabue. (Photo: DR)

Ich will den Optimismus nicht aufgeben“ // 01.12.2021, FAZ
Helga Nowotny ist Falling-Walls-Kuratoriumsmitglied und Gründerin des Europäischen Forschungsrats. Im Interview spricht sie über die Macht der Intelligenz, Big Data und verrät, warum Fridays for Future sie hoffnungsvoll stimmt. (Photo: DR)

> Ex-Googler Timnit Gebru starts her own AI research center // 02.12.2021, WIRED
The researcher, who says Google fired her a year ago, wants to ask questions about responsible use of artificial intelligence. Related press release(Photo: DR)

> Science misinformation alarms Francis Collins as he leaves top NIH job // 03.12.2021, Nature
The genome project leader reflects on his 12 years at the helm of a juggernaut biomedical agency, and what lies ahead

> The FT’s 25 most influential women of 2021 // 02.12.2021, Financial Times 
(© Freya Betts)

> Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2021 ‘50 List’ // 01.12.2012, Bloomberg
The people and ideas that defined global business in 2021. (Photo: DR)



> 5 games that explain the world // 26.11.2021, Foreign Policy
From the Islamic Revolution in Tehran to fuzzy animals playing counterinsurgents, these board and video games are inspired by foreign relations.

2021 World Conference on Science Literacy in Focus: Science Literacy for a Green Future // 01.12.2021, China Research Institute for Science Popularization
On November 30, the 2021 World Conference on Science Literacy (WCSL) kick started in Beijing. With the theme of “Science Literacy for a Green Future”, the conference invited esteemed decision-makers, top scientists, renowned scholars, as well as leaders and representatives from key scientific and technological organizations (such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, International Science Council, World Federation of Engineering Organizations, and The World Academy of Sciences for the advancement of science in developing countries). The World Conference on Science Literacy is a global conference initiated by China Association of Science and Technology (CAST) to promote public science literacy. The conference is attended by representatives of international organizations, government agencies, science and technology non-governmental organizations, science communication industry organizations or institutions, universities and research institutions in the field of science literacy in the world, as well as managers, experts, scholars and celebrities from science and technology, education, industrial and commercial circles.


> Le long chemin vers le succès éclair de l’ARN messager // 02.12.2021, Le Monde
Le journaliste Fabrice Delaye décrit l’aventure scientifique exceptionnelle qui a permis la mise au point du vaccin à ARN messager contre le Covid-19. Une révolution portée par des personnages hors du commun et des « héros » moins connus.


> Digital identities: Protecting people’s data // 08.12.2021, 3:30pm CET, organized by ICRC
What are digital identities? Why do humanitarian organizations find them useful? And what risks might they pose for people living through crises? For the ninth month of the DigitHarium, ICRC has invited Mr Omar Seghrouchni, president of the National Commission for the Protection of Personal Data in Morocco (CNDP), to discuss digital identities and the implications in of using them in humanitarian contexts. In particular, the discussion will focus on the different types of digital identities, their advantages and disadvantages, ways of making them safer, and the current trends in discussions about digital identities.

The AI  Trajectory 2022+ // 14.12.2021, organized by Swiss Cognitive
Join the upcoming Virtual Conference facilitated and powered by SwissCognitive, World-Leading AI Network. As always, expect no SciFi, no terminators and no sales. Just content focused on AI! Scroll down to get to know the speakers and start exchanging with them and your AI peers globally today.

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 & Geoengineering, Science & 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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