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

13-19 November 2020

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> The population debate: Are there too many people on the planet? // 11.11.2020, New Scientist
The world’s population is now 7.8 billion. As we grapple with a global pandemic and the worsening problems of climate change, biodiversity loss and environmental destruction, many researchers argue that it’s time to confront how our own rising numbers factor in, and examine our assumptions about the relationship between population growth and economic stability.

Related article: Paul Ehrlich: There are too many super-consumers on the planet // 11.11.2020, New Scientist
Conservation biologist Paul Ehrlich raised fears about our rapidly growing population in his 1968 book The Population Bomb. Fifty years later, he reflects on what has changed.

(© PXhere)


What's next for COVID-19 apps? Governance and oversight (POLICY FORUM) // 13.11.2020, Science 
Many governments have seen digital health technologies as a promising tool to address coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), particularly digital contact tracing (DCT) apps such as Bluetooth-based exposure notification apps that trace proximity to other devices (1) and GPS-based apps that collect geolocation data. But deploying these systems is fraught with challenges, and most national DCT apps have not yet had the expected rate of uptake. Recognizing that technological uptake is an open-ended process reliant upon social learning and the piecemeal creation of public trust, we suggest that policy-makers set up mechanisms to test effectiveness, oversee the use of DCT apps, monitor public attitudes, and adapt technological design to socially perceived risks and expectations. Effy Vayena, professor of bioethics at the ETH Zurich and Academic Moderator of GESDA, addresses this issue in a Policy Forum.

(© Davide Bonazzi/Salzmanart, for Science)


Science for Democracy, the first European platform to promote the Right to science, appeals to world leaders: "You have a duty to protect it" // 12.11.2020, Science For Democracy
On the occasion of World Science Day, proclaimed by UNESCO in 2001 and celebrated every 10 November, Science for Democracy launched a video to raise awareness on the role of science in our daily lives. The COVID-19 pandemic has stressed the need to structurally enrole science in global responses to the current crisis and to better prepare for future ones. From the need to access data about the real spread of the virus to the research and production of the vaccine, the importance of scientific engagement across the world and the need to include society along the way has never been more evident.

Science for Democracy also appealed on world’s Governments
>  to promote the UN General Comment as a guide for the full enjoyment of the Right to Enjoy the Benefits of Scientific Progress and its Applications
> to promote an open access to scientific literature, in a transparent manner consistently with local and global interests and needs, both public and private
> to dedicate significant resources to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and to integrate them with the arts across the wider educational curriculum with particular attention to girls and women
> to consider the “right ‘of’ and ‘to’ science” as The theme for the general debate of a future session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.


> A space science boom or death by a thousand small satellites // November 2020, Nature Astronomy
Small satellites are revolutionizing the way we access space for commerce and science, including astronomy and planetary science. Yet, like many breakthrough technologies, it has a double-edge.

Related article: Euroconsult: Record number of smallsats launched in 2020 // 10.11.2020, SpaceNews


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI

Quantum & computers 

> Computer scientists achieve ‘crown jewel’ of cryptography // November 2020, Quanta

> Quantum sensors could let autonomous cars ‘see’ around corners // 10.11.2020, Scientific American

> New approach to circuit compression could deliver real-world quantum computers years ahead of schedule // 12.11.2020,

Artificial intelligence

> On the way to lifelike robots // 12.11.2020, EMPA press release
Synthesizing robots via physical artificial intelligence is a multidisciplinary challenge for future robotics research. An education methodology is needed for researchers to develop a combination of skills in physical artificial intelligence.

Related article: Skills for physical artificial intelligence // 10.11.2020, Nature Machine Intelligence
Related editorial: Materializing artificial intelligence // 10.11.2020, Nature Machine Intelligence
Related article: Stretchable 'skin' sensor gives robots human sensation // 12.11.2020, Science

> Is AI finally closing in on human intelligence? // 12.11.2020, Financial Times

This could lead to the next big breakthrough in common sense AI // 06.11.2020, Technology Review

> AI is wrestling with a replication crisis // 12.11.2020, Technology Review

> Pope Francis urges followers to pray that AI and robots ‘always serve mankind’ // 11.11.2020, The Verge

> Can you teach a machine to think? (podcast) // 11.11.2020, Technology Review


Platform 2: Human augmentation


> Deep neural networks help to explain living brains // 28.10.2020, Quanta

> New study reveals a holistic way to look at neurons in the brain // 12.11.2020, Cell

> Neurons stripped of their identity are hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, study finds // 13.11.2020, UC San Diego press release – Science Advances

> Salamanders provide a model for spinal-cord regeneration // 06.11.2020, EPFL


Why it’s a big deal if the first Covid vaccine is ‘genetic’ // 10.11.2020, WIRED
Related articles: 
The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race // 10.11.2020, STAT
The vaccine news is good. Here’s the bad news // 10.11.2020, Foreign Policy

> COVID-19 vaccine a 'moral moment' for humanity, conference hears // 11.11.2020, Thomson Reuters Foundation news

> Gene therapy pioneer develops a new approach to curb the side effects of treatment // 11.11.2020, STAT

> Microbes’ mystery DNA helps defeat viruses—and has genome-editing potential // 11.11.2020, Science

> New molecular atlases reveal how human cells grow and develop // 12.11.2020, Science

Longevity & Health

> Spirit of ‘reverse innovation’ drives new digital health technologies at the Geneva Health Forum // 11.11.2020, Geneva Solutions

> Why we need a collective vision to design the future of health // 11.11.2020, SingularityHub

> Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine announces its official launch // 11.11.2020, Cambridge University press release

> Vaccine combines cancer-killing power of chemotherapy and immunotherapy // 11.11.2020, Hansjörg Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University press release

> Scientists discover safeguard that protects blood's 'Fountain of Youth' // 09.11.2020, University of Edinburgh press release

> Unravelling the secrets of spider limb regeneration to inspire new gen soft-robotics // 11.11.2020, Oxford University press release

> Medical microrobots score the Breakthrough of the Year // 09.11.2020, ETHZ press release

> Researchers at Goethe University create artificial cell organelles for biotechnology // 12.11.2020, ACS Synthetic Biology

> Scientists speed up artificial organoid growth and selection // 10.11.2020, MedicalXpress

> Organoids produce embryonic heart // 11.11.2020, EPFL press release

3D structure of the anterior cardiac crescent-like domain in gastruloids. (© Giuliana Rossi, EPFL)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering


> Challenges and prospects for negawatt trading in light of recent technological developments // November 2020, Nature Energy

> Combining information on others’ energy usage and their approval of energy conservation promotes energy saving behaviour // November 2020, Nature Energy
Related article in Nature: Three thumbs up for social norms

> The batteries of the future are weightless and invisible // 06.11.2020, WIRED


Scientists are building cows to resist climate change // 10.11.2020, Future Human

> Climate-adapted plant breeding: Improvement of crops with seeds from gene banks // 10.11.2020, TU München press release

> Cultures d’OGM : le Conseil fédéral veut prolonger le moratoire // 11.11.2020, press release

> The second decade of synthetic biology: 2010–2020 (COMMENT) // October 2020, Nature Communications

> San Diego zoo global biobanking advances wildlife conservation and human medicine worldwide // 12.11.2020, Nature


Systems thinking, systems doing // 11.11.2020, Nature Food
The multidimensional problems of food require integrated solutions. Yet, there is a lack of clarity on the operationalization of systems thinking in research. This is a major challenge for those working towards the Food Systems Summit.
Related article: Trade and its trade-offs in the food system

> Rock mining with microbes may aid space explorers // 10.11.2020, BBC

> Oxygen to be extracted from 'moon rock' in Rotherham // 11.11.2020, BBC

> A biomimetic membrane for desalinating seawater on an industrial scale // 09.11.2020, CNRS press release

Conservationists replant legal palm oil plantation with forest in Borneo // 09.11.2020, Mongabay


The plan to turn scrapped rockets into space stations // 11.11.2020, WIRED
Spent rockets are dangerous space trash, but they could be the future of living and working in orbit.

> “Revolutionary change” expected from new Indian space policy // 11.11.2020, SpaceNews

> One size to fit them all: Interoperability, the Artemis Accords and the future of space exploration (OP-ED) // November 2020, SpaceWatch.Global

Climate and environment

> Financial Stability Report and Climate change // November 2020, Federal Reserve
Bloomberg writes: “In its latest Financial Stability Report, the Fed specifically calls out climate change as a near-term risk to the financial system. Climate change, it concludes, “increases the likelihood of dislocations and disruptions in the economy” and “is likely to increase financial shocks and financial system vulnerabilities that could further amplify these shocks.”

> Quel type de forêt choisir pour mieux stocker le CO2? // 13.11.2020, Université de Genève press release - Nature Communications

> To save the climate, we have to reimagine capitalism (OP-ED by Rebecca Henderson) // 11.11.2020, TED
"Business is screwed if we don't fix climate change," says economist Rebecca Henderson. In this bold talk, she describes how unchecked capitalism destabilizes the environment and harms human health -- and makes the case for companies to step up and help fix the climate crisis they're causing.

Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

> La pandémie frappe durement la Genève internationale // 11.11.2020, Le Temps
Related Editorial: Genève internationale: le besoin d'ambition
"A l’heure du Covid-19, Genève a une chance unique à saisir: établir le cadre technologique et normatif de la future diplomatie multilatérale en mariant au mieux la précieuse proximité physique des acteurs de la Genève internationale et l’atout d’inclusivité que représentent les conférences virtuelles et hybrides. Ce nouveau narratif ne doit pas être que déclamatoire. Il doit être accompagné de substance afin de faire de Genève un think tank planétaire respecté."

Données personnelles : vers la souveraineté européenne ? // 01.11.2020, Alternatives Economiques

Researchers simulate privacy leaks in functional genomics studies // 12.11.2020, Cell

Big Tech can help bring war criminals to justice // 11.11.2020, Foreign Affairs

Europe is adopting stricter rules on surveillance tech // 09.11.2020, Technology Review

Use caution when applying behavioural science to policy // October 2020, Nature Human Behaviour

Even as traditional globalisation has slowed, a new kind has sped up // 07.11.2020, The Economist

Special section: US Presidential election

Election 2020: President-elect Biden’s next steps for science policy // 07.11.2020, American Institute of Physics

> Scientists relieved as Joe Biden wins tight US presidential election // 07.11.2020, Nature
Related article in Nature: Memo for President Biden: Five steps to getting more from science

> La Genève internationale respire avec l’élection de Joe Biden // 11.11.2020, Tribune de Genève

> Joe Biden: How the president-elect plans to tackle climate change // 10.11.2020, BBC

> AI, Quantum R&D funding to remain a priority under Biden // 09.11.2020, Wall Street Journal

> The election outcome will make sweeping climate action harder // 04.11.2020, The New Yorker

> One big challenge for Biden? China’s push for tech supremacy // 09.11.2020, WIRED

> What Biden means for Big Tech—and Google in particular // 10.11.2020, Technology Review

> Space not amongst Biden-Harris priorities for the U.S. // 10.11.2020, SpaceWatch.Global

> White House races to complete regulations before Trump exits // 10.11.2020, Science

> The future of science in America: The election issue // October, Aspen Institute
Award-Winning scientists offer advice to President-Elect Biden


> A framework for research linking weather, climate and COVID-19 // 12.11.2020, Nature Communications

> European research budget gets unexpected €4 billion boost // 10.11.2020, Science

> Science and technology development in Africa needs women // 09.11.2020, Nature Human Behaviour

> How can digital cities foster urban innovation? // 09.11.2020, ESA press release

(© ESA)


Peter Brabeck-Letmathe: “Le système m’a toujours rejeté” // 08.11.2020, Le Matin Dimanche
Il n’a jamais été aussi heureux que lorsqu’il vendait des glaces, sur les routes de son Autriche natale. Pourtant, Peter Brabeck est allé voir plus loin, plus haut. L’ancien grand patron de Nestlé, président du Conseil de Fondation de GESDA, publie «Ascensions», son autobiographie. Interview. 
(© Flickr)

The Space Cafe podcast with Simonetta Di Pippo (Podcast) // November 2020, SpaceWatch.Global
As the director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), Simonetta Di Pippo carries probably the coolest business card title ever. Simonetta has some pretty interesting insights, when it comes to the future of space – especially on earth. 
(© Wikipedia)

Physicist Cathy Foley appointed Australia's next chief scientist // 09.11.2020, ABC
Cathy Foley is currently chief scientist at CSIRO. She will be Australia's ninth chief scientist — a role that she says has grown since the first chief scientist appointment in 1989. (© CSIRO)

Marcel Salathé: «Cette crise a révélé l’aspect critique de la communication scientifique» // 11.11.2020, Le Temps
C’est la riposte du monde scientifique suisse au coronavirus: le programme national de recherche Covid-19 (ou PNR 78) a été lancé en avril par le FNS sur mandat du Conseil fédéral. L’épidémiologiste et membre de la Swiss National COVID-19 Science Task Force Marcel Salathé, qui vient d’être nommé à la tête de ce programme, en a détaillé les défis. (© EPFL)


> Jury duty for global warming: citizen groups help solve the puzzle of climate action // 29.10.2020, Science

> Sarah Kenderdine: «Wir wollen den Museumsbesuch für immer verändern» // 11.11.2020, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Museen, Theater, Konzertsäle: Wo immer Menschen zum Kulturgenuss zusammenkamen, herrscht während der Corona-Pandemie gähnende Leere. Wie lässt sich der Museumsbesuch revolutionieren? Sarah Kenderdine, Professorin an der EPFL, hält das Handwerkszeug für Innovationen bereit. Am 10. März 2021 spricht sie am GDI.


> MOVIE “Superintelligence”, the trailer // HBO
This film stars Melissa McCarthy as a woman who selected by an AI supercomputer to determine if humanity is ultimately worth saving.

> BOOK The space between worlds review: Sci-fi with the multiverse done right // 09.11.2020, NewScientist
Micaiah Johnson’s debut novel is a witty, deep and savvy tale about travelling through the multiverse.


> Are global partnerships effective in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals?” // 16.11.2020, 6:30pm CET, organized by the Graduate Institute

> Global Health Forum 2020: the forum of innovative practice in Global Health // 16-18.11.2020, online
The organizers: "These are difficult times for all. But we believe that now more than ever, we need a Forum gathering all the key actors of global health and humanitarian action. We are trying to be agile in a complex situation. We would like to state that we also see this as an opportunity to reach a greater audience, which aligns with our goal of giving a voice to actors from the field and bringing them closer to the discussions held in International Geneva on global health. We have developed an attractive programme that should be interesting to all our GHF community. We will have 21 online sessions that will be broadcasted live during our 3 days event and that will remain available for our participants for 3 months after the event. These sessions will be held in a professional studio, giving you the best experience that a virtual session can offer. We will be tackling, with our network of key actors in Geneva and beyond, the global health crisis that impacts all of us, without forgetting critical issues that are and will remain crucial global health challenges, such as Universal Health Coverage, E-Health, Neglected Tropical Diseases, SDGs, Cancer or the impact of Climate change."

The Future of Cities Summit // 19.11.2020, organized by Tortoise media
The UN forecasts that by 2050, nearly 68 per cent of us will be city dwellers. From London to Lagos to LA, urban life has been characterised by crowded transport systems, dirty air and expensive housing – but with city centres emptying thanks to Covid, what will the city of 2050 be like? We’ve teamed up with The Globe and Mail, Canada’s best-selling newspaper, for this one so expect a chorus of cross-Atlantic perspectives. It’s free to members as always and one ticket gets you access to a whole day of ThinkIns.

Switzerland: Driving the future of food and nutrition // 20.11.2020, 10:30 CET, organized by SwissNex India
Did you know that 2.6 billion francs are invested in food innovation, with F&B exports reaching 8.9 billion per year?  A unique ecosystem has emerged from Geneva to Zurich, due to Switzerland’s deeply rooted agricultural tradition, an unmatched density of world leading companies and scientific institutions as well as a large number of start-ups in areas such as food, nutrition, life sciences and robotics. As we continue to push the case for the Food and Nutrition Valley in Switzerland, we ask the creators, the integrator and an innovator about their views on how this plays out in the global ecosystem. And how could India, and specifically, Karnataka contribute or benefit from Switzerland’s expertise.


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).

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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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