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

12-18 September 2020

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg

Humanity, now more than ever, is facing global challenges, 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, sometimes hard to grasp. Anticipation, therefore, is key to build the future with the aim of early 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 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. 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).


As physics particles, reports sometimes oddly collide. This week, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) reveals that, according to a survey, “less than 20% of Europeans believe that current laws ‘efficiently regulate’ artificial intelligence (AI), and 56% have low trust in authorities to exert effective control over the technology”. “When a consumer believes they have been harmed because of AI-based products or services, they are not only unable to identify who’s responsible but also feel that they can’t rely on authorities to protect them,” explains BEUC’s deputy DG Ursula Pachl. 
And recently, the management consulting firm Boston Consulting Group considered that now has the time come for ‘AI-powered governments’! Making the most of the COVID-19, “there is an even greater opportunity for the public sector to push the boundaries of how AI is applied [...] and for government professionals [to] engage with the populations they serve, to support the use of AI and other technology to power change”, the authors write.
This task, if validated, is as crucial as it is immense. Only so will existing legislation be possibly updated to allow make the most of the assumptive power of an AI help. Especially as AI ethics groups seem to repeat one of society’s classic mistakes: they fail to account for the cultural and regional contexts in which AI operates, as underlines the MIT Technology Review.

> Major survey highlights Europeans’ fears over AI // 16.09.2020, The European Consumer Organisation
Summarizing article to read here.
> Now is the time for AI-powered governments // 20.08.2020, Boston Consulting Group
> AI ethics groups are repeating one of society’s classic mistakes //14.09.2020, MIT Technology Review



> The latest round in the CRISPR patent battle has an apparent victor, but the fight continues // 11.09.2020, Science
The long-running patent battle over CRISPR, the genome editor that may bring a Nobel Prize and millions of dollars to whoever is credited with its invention, has taken a new twist that vastly complicates the claims made by a team led by the University of California.

Also read this three related articles:
Twist on CRISPR gene editing treats adult-onset muscular dystrophy in mice // 14.09.2020, Nature Biomedical Engineering
Gene editing to produce 'super dad' livestock // 15.09.2020, BBC News
Informing genome editing governance through global citizen deliberation (POLICY FORUM) // 17.09.2020, Science
Based on this Science article

Michael Møller (Chair)

1. World Business Council on Sustainable Development releases insights into innovations that could transform the next decade // 26.08.2020, WBCSD Issue Brief

3. Lancet COVID-19 Commission Statement on the occasion of the 75th UN General Assembly (COMMISSION STATEMENT, Jeffrey Sachs et al.) //14.09.2020, Lancet 
The Commission aims to offer practical solutions to the four main global challenges posed by the pandemic: suppressing the pandemic by means of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions; overcoming humanitarian emergencies; restructuring public and private finances; and rebuilding the world economy in an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable way that is aligned with the SDGs and the Paris Climate Agreement.

3. The comming Global Technology Fracture// 08.09.2020, Project Syndicate


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI

Artificial intelligence

> US Congress checks in with national security AI commission // September 2020, American Institute of Physics
The US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has published two sets of to date covering issues such as how to structure R&D efforts and impose appropriate export controls on AI.
March 2020 issue –  Fall 2020 issue

> Safety driver in fatal Arizona Uber self-driving car crash charged with homicide // 16.09.2020, Reuters

> Secretive Pentagon research program looks to replace human hackers with AI // 13.09.2020, Yahoo News

> Deep Learning alleine reicht nicht (OPINION von Wolfgang Wahlster) // 10.09.2020, FAZ 

> Aurélie Jean: «En médecine, l’intelligence artificielle a un impact énorme» // 16.09.2020, Le Temps


Quantum for all // 14.09.2020, Physics
Propelling the development of quantum technologies will require widespread literacy about quantum concepts.

IBM promises 1000-qubit quantum computer - a milestone - by 2023 // 15.09.2020, Science
Also this Axios article worth reading.

Quantum computers threaten to end digital security. Here’s what’s being done about it // 11.09.2020, Fortune

Wie imaginäre Computer die Sicherheit des Internets gefährden – und wie man sich bereits heute dagegen wappnen kann // 12.09.2020, NZZ

Microsoft and University of Copenhagen collaboration yields promising material for quantum computing // 16.09.2020, Nature Physics

Let’s talk about quantum computing in drug discovery // 13.09.2020, C&EN

Quantum startup CEO suggests we are only five years away from a quantum desktop computer // 14.09.2020, TechCrunch

View of a quantum processing computer (@Pikist)

Platform 2: Human augmentation

> The future is cyborg: Kaspersky study finds support for human augmentation // 17.09.2020, Reuters
In Britain, France and Switzerland, support for 'augmentation' was low - at just 25%, 32% and 36% respectively – while in Portugal and Spain it was much higher – at 60% in both.


Reprogramming brain cells enables flexible decision-making // 16.08.2020, Nature - University of Zurich press release

Scientists discover what happens in our brains when we make educated guesses // 17.09.2020, Cell - UKRI press release

Stable recordings enable ‘plug-and-play’ control of brain–computer interface // 10.09.2020, Physics World

Reduction in insomnia symptoms associated with non-invasive neurotechnology // 17.09.2020, Brain and Behavior - Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center press release

Light-activated neurons can alter body heat // 17.09.2020, Nature

Trials begin for a new weapon against Parkinson's: light // 18.09.2020, Science

Venture capitalist donates BrainGate, brain-machine interface company, to Tufts University // 11.09.2020, STATNews

Longevity & Health

Molecular basis underlying colorectal cancer revealed // 15.09.2020, Nature Communications

Homeostatic mini-intestines through scaffold-guided organoid morphogenesis // 16.09.2020, Nature

Lab-grown bone could change the way we test new medical treatments // 14.09.2020, University of Sheffield press release

Messengers from the microbiota // 18.09.2020, Science
Based on this Science article


With Grail in its sights, Illumina pursues grand vision that could reshape the business of cancer diagnoses //16.09.2020, STAT+

> Algorithms uncover cancers' hidden genetic losses and gains // 17.09.2020, Nature Biotechnology - Princeton University press release

Don’t ignore genetic data from minority populations (COMMENT) // 08.09.2020, Nature


> Synthetic biologists have created a slow-growing version of the coronavirus to give as a vaccine // 16.09.2020, MIT Technology Review

EU to create new biomedical research agency modelled on BARDA // 17.09.2020, Science|Business
Also read: Why does Europe need its own ‘BARDA’?

> Doctors are preparing to implant the world’s first human bionic eye // 15.09.2020, Futurism

Electronic skin displays human-like reactions to pressure, temperature and pain // 14.09.2020, Physics World

Next-gen organoids grow and function like real tissues (with VIDEO)// 16.09.2020, Nature - EPFL Press release


Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering

Resources & Energy

> Global study reveals time running out for many soils - but conservation measures can help // 14.09.2020, Environmental Research Letters - Lancaster University press release

The hydrogen solution? // September 2020, Nature Climate Change
A new star has exploded back onto the climate scene: hydrogen. It offers possibilities to move away from fossil fuels, but it brings its own challenges

Energy harvesting goes organic, gets more flexible // 15.09.2020, American Institute of Physics

Energy ‘scavenger’ could turn waste heat from fridges and other devices into electricity // 11.09.2020, Science

Biologists create new genetic systems to neutralize gene drives // 18.09.2020, Molecular Cell - University of California San Diego press release

> Biologists developing global citizen network to monitor insect abundance // 16.09.2020, Phys.Org

> Microsoft’s underwater server experiment resurfaces after two years // 14.09.2020, The Verge
Also this Singularity Hub analysis: Microsoft had the crazy idea to put servers under water - and it totally worked


A new ship’s mission: let the Deep Sea be seen // 17.09.2020, New York Times


> China to launch space mining bot // 16.09.2020, IEEE Spectrum

Climate and environment

World fails to meet a single target to stop destruction of nature // 15.09.2020, The Guardian
Based on this report: Global Biodiversity Outlook report

Now is the perfect moment to decarbonize Global Trade // 10.09.2020, Undark

To confront the climate crisis, the US should launch a National Energy Innovation Mission (OPINION) // 15.09.2020, MIT Technology Review

Climat: la Suisse se lance dans le pompage de CO2 pour atteindre ses objectifs climatiques // 16.09.2020, La Liberté

Going deep on carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS), with Julio Friedmann (PODCAST) // May 2020, Resources Magazine

Hot Zone: raging wildfires, thawed permafrost, killer temperatures. The scorching future is here // Fall 2020. Bloomberg Green

(Copyright: Bloomberg)

Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

> Antonio Guterres: «Il faut absolument voir le vaccin contre la pandémie comme un bien public» // 15.09.2020, Le Temps

Sustaining a vibrant democracy in a challenging world (OPINION, by Sir Peter Gluckman) // 09.09.2020, Informed Futures

China investiert Milliarden in seine Chip-Industrie – trotzdem bleibt es von den USA abhängig // 14.09.2020, NZZ

21st century power: How clean energy will remake geopolitics // 19.09.2020, The Economist

The climate case against decoupling // 14.09.2020, Foreign Affairs
Severing U.S.-Chinese links would make it impossible to save the environment.

What is ‘tech sovereignty’? // 15.09.2020, Science|Business

The Digital Watch observatory rebooted // 16.09.2020, Geneva.Solutions

Scientists use big data to sway elections and predict riots — welcome to the 1960s (COMMENT, by Jill Lepore) // 16.09.2020, Nature

Protests against racism in Detroit, Michigan, and many other US cities in 1967 prompted attempts to forecast future demonstrations. (©AFP via Getty)


Mexico becomes first country to launch SDG sovereign bond // 18.09.2020, Geneva.Solutions

It’s time to eliminate patents in universities: Step up to Open // 31.08.2020, Medium

NSF advances 25 projects to explore bold ideas for transformative research // 15.09.2020, NSF

Experts say humans are living in an ‘Age of Pandemics’—and COVID won’t be the last // 08.09.2020, VICE

The covid-19 pandemic was predicted – here's how to stop the next one // 16.09.2020, New Scientist

> Raising the next generation of rational thinkers (VIDEO) // 16.09.2020, BOLD
How do children become rational human beings who are capable of contributing to civil society? The relevant skills – such as the ability to distinguish strong from weak arguments in public discourse – start to develop very early, and as with any skills children learn, their caregivers and environment can support or impede this process.


Eva Thelisson, la cartographe de l’intelligence artificielle // 17.09.2020, Le Temps
Juriste, la cofondatrice d’AI Transparency Institute plaide pour une intelligence artificielle respectueuse des valeurs démocratiques (@DR)


Can the world depoliticise global health? // 15.09.2020, Geneva.Solutions 
The difference between an epidemic and a pandemic—between a national and an international crisis—rests on whether our world can get its global act together, says Annie Sparrow, advisor to the Director-General WHO (©DR)


> Sustainable Development Impact Summit // 21-24.09.2020, organized by WEF

The future of brain health research // 07.10.2020, organized by the Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group

The future of clinical trials // 08.10.2020, Organized by STAT News

> How will real-time data reshape our cities? // 13.10.2020, organized by Science|Business

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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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