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

15-22 January 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Joe Biden names top geneticist Eric Lander, key figure of the Human Genome Project, as science adviser // 16.01.2021, Nature

US president-elect also elevates the position to the cabinet for the first time.

→ Read Joe Biden’s letter to Eric Lander, the US President asking him 5 questions about the place of science in and for the United States. Joe Biden’s conclusion: “I believe that the answers to these questions will be instrumental in helping our nation embark on a new path in the years ahead – a path of dignity and respect, of prosperity and security, of progress and common purpose. They are big questions, to be sure, but not as big as America’s capacity to address them. I look forward to receiving your recommendations – and to working with you, your team, and the broader scientific community to turn them into solutions that ease everyday burdens for the American people, spark new jobs and opportunities, and restore American leadership on the world stage.”

> Related article in the New York Times. And Lander's portrait on the American Institute of Physics website. 

(© Keystone)

Eric Lander also host a series of podcasts called “Brave new planet” on the future of science and technology, which self-description is: “Hosted by scientist Eric Lander and in partnership with Pushkin Industries and the Boston Globe, Brave New Planet is a podcast about amazing new technologies that might dramatically improve our world, or, if we don’t make wise choices, could leave us a lot worse off. This generation’s choices will shape the future as never before. Utopia or dystopia? It’s up to us.”

More articles related to new US President’s science & diplomacy actions:
Meet the full Biden's science team, in this Nature article.

> Biden presidency sets stage for wider global advances on climate policy // 14.01.2021, Thomson Reuters Foundation news

> Climate change needs an operation warp speed // 17.01.2021, WIRED

> Incoming White House science and technology leader on AI, diversity, and society // 16.01.2021, VentureBeat

> China congratulates Biden, welcomes US return to WHO // 21.01.2021, Hindustan Times

> Biden proposes a science-led New Deal to end pandemic suffering // 15.01.2021, Science


> WEF Global Risks Report 2021 // 19.01.2021, WEF
The 16th edition of the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report analyses the risks from societal fractures – manifested through persistent and emerging risks to human health, rising unemployment, widening digital divides, youth disillusionment and geopolitical fragmentation. Businesses risk a disorderly shakeout which can exclude large cohorts of workers and companies from the markets of the future. Environmental degradation – still an existential threat to humanity – risks intersecting with societal fractures to bring about severe consequences. Yet, with the world more attuned to risk, lessons can be drawn to strengthen response and resilience. In 2020, the risk of a pandemic became reality. As governments, businesses and societies grapple with COVID-19, societal cohesion is more important than ever.

Related article:

WEF mahnt: Trotz Pandemie bleibt Klimawandel das grösste Risiko // 19.01.2021, NZZ
Die Pandemie verhindert auch das traditionelle Jahrestreffen des Weltwirtschaftsforums in Davos. Doch bei aller Sorge vor den wirtschaftlichen, sozialen und politischen Folgen – das WEF sieht schlimmere Gefahren als Corona.


> WHO proposes new “pandemic treaty” to tighten global monitoring and enforcement of disease outbreak response // 20.01.2021, Health Policy Watch
Almost twenty years after a landmark WHO treaty was adopted to curb tobacco consumption, a new “pandemic treaty” could become a key tool to garner stronger political commitment from member states to better prevent, prepare and respond to infectious disease outbreaks, WHO’s Director General said on Wednesday.

Related article also on Health Policy Watch: Lacking resources and authority, WHO was too slow to act against COVID-19 - says independent review panel

WHO’s Executive Board meeting in 2017, which was face-to-face (© DR)


> How science can put the Sustainable Development Goals back on track (EDITORIAL) // 20.01.2021, Nature
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the Sustainable Development Goals, the United Nations’ flagship plan to end poverty and protect the environment. Researchers need to launch a rapid response to help end the current crisis and get onto a pathway to greater well-being and, eventually, prosperity and environmental sustainability, argues a Nature editorial. “The UN’s science advisers have been given a bigger responsibility than many are ever likely to face,” says the editorial. “Everyone must be ready to work with them and help them succeed.”


> Antoine Buéno : «Nous pensons le futur entre deux extrêmes, transhumanisme et collapsologie» // 18.01.2021,
Essayiste, prospectiviste au Sénat, en France, et ayant enseigné la science-fiction à Sciences-po Paris, Antoine Buéno est un encyclopédiste de l’innovation technologique et de la transition environnementale. Son dernier livre, «Futur : notre avenir de A à Z», est à la fois érudit et accessible. Il est tout aussi radical que le best-seller Homo Deus de l’historien Yuval Noah Harari qu’il complète tout en adoptant un point de vue différent. Essentiellement parce que ce dictionnaire de 700 pages tient beaucoup plus compte de la crise environnementale.

© «Blade Runner» | Warner Bros. Pictures via AP/KEYSTONE


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> How quantum computers could usher in a golden age of computing power // 20.01.2021, SciTechDaily

Transforming quantum computing’s promise into practice // 19.01.2021, MIT News press release

New campus will push physics to the limit // January 2021, Nature (Advertisement feature from LMU Munich)
LMU Munich is building state-of-the art facilities to help its physicists tackle global challenges, improve lives and shape the future.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence researchers rank the top AI labs worldwide // 21.01.2021, CNBC

China wants to be the world’s AI superpower. Does it have what it takes? // 17.01.2021, SingularityHub

> This chinese lab is aiming for big AI breakthroughs // 21.01.2021, WIRED

> Nozha Boujemaa : « Sommes-nous à l’aube d’un changement pour le développement de l’intelligence artificielle ? » // 13.01.2021, Le Monde

Designing customized “brains” for robots // 21.01.2021, MIT press release
A new system devises hardware architectures to hasten robots’ response time.

How mirroring the architecture of the human brain is speeding up AI learning // 18.01.2021, SingularityHub

System creates the illusion of an ideal AI chip // 14.01.2021, IEEE Spectrum

Who needs a teacher? Artificial intelligence designs lesson plans for itself // 19.01.2021, Science

An artificial intelligence taught itself to manipulate blocks by setting increasingly difficult goals.

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


CRISPR technologies for precise epigenome editing // 08.01.2021, Nature Cell biology

New gene therapy to delay ageing, extend lifespan // 20.01.2021, Khaleej Times

Major EU project will harness AI and genomics for disease prevention // 18.01.2021, Mirage


> High-frequency neuromodulation improves obsessive–compulsive behavior // 18.01.2021, Nature Medicine

Timing is of the essence when treating brain swelling in mice // 19.01.2021, NIH press release
NIH study shows specific set of immune cells can harm and also help brain after injury.

Snap-freezing reveals a truer structure of brain connections // 18.01.2021, EPFL press release

The brain region responsible for self-bias in memory // 18.01.2021, Journal of neuroscience

NIH researchers identify new genetic disorder that affects brain, craniofacial skeleton // 21.01.2021, NIH

Longevity and health

> The United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing requires concerted global action // 14.01.2021, Nature Aging

NAD+ can restore age-related muscle deterioration // 20.01.2021, EPFL press release

A multiomic atlas for the exploration of healthy aging in human monocytes // 14.01.2021, Nature Aging

Artificial intelligence in longevity medicine // 14.01.2021, Nature Aging

Intermittent and periodic fasting, longevity and disease // 14.01.2021, Nature Aging

To boldly go where no pharma has gone before // 14.01.2021, NEO.LIFE
Astropharmacies could grow drugs on demand for future space travelers.

Antibiotic resistance: a call to action to prevent the next epidemic of inequality // 18.01.2021, Nature Medicine

I spoke to 99 big thinkers about what our ‘world after coronavirus’ might look like – this is what I learned // 12.01.2021, The Conversation

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> UAE targets low-cost blue hydrogen to cut emissions by 24% // 19.01.2021, Bloomberg

MIT develops method for lab-grown plants that eventually lead to alternatives to forestry and farming // 20.01.2021, TechCrunch

Bundling innovations to transform agri-food systems // December 2020, Nature Sustainability


The superconductor breakthrough that could mean an energy revolution // 13.01.2021, New Scientist

Electric car batteries with five-minute charging times produced // 19.01.2021, The Guardian

Warmed-up lithium-based batteries could make electric vehicles cheaper // 18.01.2021, New Scientist

> We're running out of lithium for batteries – can we use salt instead? // 20.01.2021, New Scientist


Septoriose du blé : identification d’un gène de résistance à large spectre // 19.01.2021, Inrae press release


EU to launch Spaceways study on Space Traffic Management // 19.01.2021, SpaceWatch.Global

It’s time to tidy up space // 14.01.2021, The Economist

Climate and environment

Grande muraille verte en Afrique : 14 milliards de dollars pour l’environnement et l’emploi // 12.01.2021, France24

Earth Observation data could represent a billion-dollar opportunity for the African continent // 15.01.2021, WEF

Systematic review of the outcomes and trade-offs of ten types of decarbonization policy instruments // 18.01.2021, Nature Climate change

The ongoing collapse of the world's aquifers // 19.01.2021, WIRED

EU seeks ideas for its green cultural revolution // 19.01.2021, Science|Business

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> We need a new era of international data diplomacy // 18.01.2021, FT

What must the US do to sustain its democracy? (OPINIONS)// 20.01.2021, MIT press release
MIT scholars discuss what is needed for the country to support its longstanding form of government.

États-Unis : quand les réseaux sociaux font la loi // 20.01.2021, Courrier International

Le savoir contre le pouvoir (EDITORIAL) // 17.01.2021, Le Temps

Échec moral : 39.000.000 de doses de vaccins ont été administrées dans les pays riches. 25 doses seulement dans les pays pauvres. 25. // 18.01.2021, UP’Magazine

China’s “health diplomacy”: Indonesia’s roll-out of Sinovac vaccine and Wang Yi visit give China’s image a shot in the arm // 12.01.2021, South China Morning Post

Le voilier suisse Fleur de Passion va étudier les coraux en Mer Rouge // 19.01.2021, RTS
Expédition, soutenue par le DFAE et mariant science et diplomatie, l’été prochain dans le cadre d’un partenariat avec le Transnational Red Sea Center à l’Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne.

(© DR)


> How companies should leverage digitization // 12.01.2021, Project Syndicate
As the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the fragility of many business models, it has also intensified the race to adopt cutting-edge technologies. But adoption is only the first step; how these technologies are applied across five key areas will determine who reaches the finish line – and when.

'UK ARPA' to launch as soon as possible despite Dominic Cummings exit // 18.01.2021, New Scientist

‘We’re underselling the vaccine’ // 18.01.2021, The New York Times

Les futurologues sont-ils magiciens, charlatans ou scientifiques ? // 20.01.2021, RTS Radio

Comment les technologies de la confiance peuvent contribuer au succès de la vaccination (COMMENT, by Philippe Gillet) // 18.01.2021,


> Humanity’s planet-shaping powers - and what they mean for the future // December 2020, TED
Humanity now has incredible power to shape nature and the Earth: the power to destroy and the power to repair, says UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner. In this action-oriented talk, he shows how this power is putting our own survival at risk – and takes us on a global tour of individuals and societies that are choosing to write a new, sustainable and equitable chapter for people and the planet. (© TED)

> UNCTAD's Shamika Sirimanne: 'this is a moment of collective consciousness' // 20.01.2021, Geneva Solutions
The pandemic cannot undermine the importance of tackling other major health issues, where science, technology and innovation can make a difference. To bring focus and attention to the question, the UNCTAD Commission on Science and Technology for Development is holding its intersessional panel meeting this week. It aims to address three main aspects of global health issues, according to the advanced drafted report published in January: primary healthcare, poverty-related diseases, and health emergencies, such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Division director Shamika Sirimanne speaks about the challenges ahead and the hope that a global cooperation could bring. 
(© TED)

> The cognitive effects of COVID-19 // Internal note
Bryan Johnson, founder of Kernel (and GESDA Academic Expert): “This week at Kernel, we’ve been circulating an executive summary on the cognitive effects of Covid-19, some suspected mechanisms, and exploring what we can do about it. I am sharing with you because I think it’s too important not to.” (Bryan Johnson wearing Kernel Flow, © DR)


Geneva has become an incubation hub for citizen initiatives // 17.01.2021, Swissinfo

3 ways to upgrade democracy for the 21st century // TED
Democracy needs an update – one that respects and engages citizens by involving them in everyday political decisions, says writer and researcher Max Rashbrooke. He outlines three global success stories that could help move democratic systems forward and protect society against the new challenges this century is already bringing.

> Storytelling can be a powerful tool for science (LETTER) // 19.01.2021, Nature

Swiss startup reboots virtual meetings with holograms // 17.01.2021, VOAnews


> Géopolitique de l’intelligence artificielle : comment la révolution numérique va bouleverser nos sociétés // 26.01.2021 6:30pm, online, organized by IRIS

> Expanding minds // 26.01.2021 8:30-12:15 PST, organized by the Allen Institute for Brain Sciences
The Allen Institute is pleased to host a reimagined, virtual Expanding Minds - The Allen Institute Conference on Human Brain Evolution. This meeting will feature the latest insights in human brain evolution, with four featured speakers and discussion sessions on topics such as: “Studying and using ancient DNA,” “What are uniquely human features?” and “Technical gaps in human brain evolution studies.” The conference will be presented as a series of virtual events. This kickoff event will be hosted by the Allen Institute. Future seminars in the series will be hosted by the Allen Discovery Center for Human Brain Evolution.

> Geneva 2030 Ecosystem ACCELERATE // 28.01.2021, organized by Geneva 2030 Ecosystem
It's an extraordinary time for the world and for sustainable development. The choices made in the COVID-19 recovery phase will be crucial for the fate of the 2030 Agenda and its 17 SDGs. Geneva is a leader in pushing for approaches that are integrated, collaborative and innovative. There is transformative potential and it's up to us to unlock it. Join the community for the launch of ACCELERATE, the Geneva 2030 Ecosystem's strategic priorities for mobilizing our collective potential in 2021.


“Proche(s)” : La Nuit des idées au Collège de France 2021 // 28.01.2021, organisé par le Collège de France
Le Collège de France s'associe cette année avec RFI pour sa participation à la Nuit des idées qui a pour thème "Proche(s)". Différents chercheurs, penseurs, scientifiques, professeurs, viennent débattre pendant une heure sur différents sujets en rapport à ce thème et apportent un éclairage inédit et spécifique en rapport avec leur domaine de spécialité et de recherche. Cette année, au programme :

  • Qui est mon prochain ?

  • Quelles cartographies pour quelles distances ?

  • Y a-t-il une bonne distance ?


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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