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

26 September - 02 October 2020

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg

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).


To the Moon and not back!
Did you have a look at the full moon on Thursday night? Earth's natural satellite is getting more attention than ever, with NASA's Artemis program at full speed (but still in the waiting for confirmation of its $28 billion new budget!), and China revealing its rocket to send its taikonaut there.
Scientists are also trying to figure out how to establish long-lasting settlements, how to get the energy to have them survive even in the dark, what science to do there, and even how to use its ressources: Japan just outlined plans to power spacecraft with moon ice.
But first, they will have to tackle an (already known) issue: as new study just showed, that astronauts on the Moon would be exposed to roughly 200 times the cosmic radiation levels as people on Earth. The (probable) solution: live underground! So: many ideas to dig to to determine the most efficient way to achieve that.

> NASA's news budget for Artemis? $28 billion // 29.09.2020, Universe Today
> NASA wants ideas for keeping Moon missions powered in the dark // 27.09.2020, Engadget
> Japan outlines plan to power spacecraft with moon ice // 28.09.2020, Japan Times
> China reveals rocket to send astronaut to the Moon // 1.10.2020,
> Moon safe for long-term human exploration, first surface radiation measurements show // 25.09.2020, Science
Based on a ScienceAdvances article.

(©Purdue University)


> ESA's plans for a Digital Twin Earth, developed with quantum computing and AI // 29.09.2020, ESA

Earth observation can contribute to the concept of Digital Twin Earth – a dynamic, digital replica of our planet which accurately mimics Earth’s behaviour. Constantly fed with Earth observation data, combined with in situ measurements and artificial intelligence, the Digital Twin Earth provides an accurate representation of the past, present and future changes of our world. Digital Twin Earth will help visualise, monitor and forecast natural and human activity on the planet. The model will be able to monitor the health of the planet, perform simulations of Earth’s interconnected system with human behaviour, and support the field of sustainable development, therefore, reinforcing Europe’s efforts for a better environment in order to respond to the urgent challenges and targets addressed by the Green Deal.

Replay the ESA Livestream here.
> Article in Science magazine.



> The American public is ready to accept human-animal chimera research // 01.10.2020, Stem Cell Reports
In September 2015, the US National Institutes of Health placed a funding moratorium on research that involves introducing human pluripotent stem cells into animal embryos – a practice that experts say is vital for advancing the field of regenerative medicine. To assess attitudes on human-animal chimeric embryo research, investigators conducted a survey among 430 Americans. The results of the survey, which found that 82% of people are supportive of at least some parts of this research, appear October 1 in the journal Stem Cell Reports.

A 4-week-old pig embryo injected with human pluripotent stem cells (©Salk Institute)


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI

> D-Wave claims it has the world's most powerful quantum computer // 29.09.2020, New Scientist

> A new claimant, IonQ, for "most powerful quantum computer" // 01.10.2020, AXIOS

> Commercialising quantum computers // 26.09.2020, The Economist
> What quantum computers reveal about innovation (EDITORIAL) // 26.09.2020, The Economist

‘Schrödinger’s Web’ offers a sneak peek at the quantum internet // 28.09.2020, ScienceNews

CERN meets quantum technology, with a “second quantum revolution” in view // 30.09.2020, CERN press release

Artificial intelligence 

State of AI Report 2020 (3rd edition) // 01.10.2020,

How a memory quirk of the human brain can galvanize AI // 28.09.2020, SingularityHub

Alexa now has its own questions for you //24.09.2020, WIRED

Artificial intelligence expert Zhu Songchun to return to China from US // 29.09.2020, South China Morning Post

Predicting epidemics like the weather: How Microsoft Premonition can help in the global fight against disease // 28.09.2020, TechXplore

The U.S. and U.K. signed an agreement today to jointly advance trustworthy AI // 25.09.2020, AXIOS
Based on this document: the Declaration on Cooperation in Artificial Intelligence Research and Development

> Amsterdam and Helsinki become first cities to launch AI registers explaining how they use algorithms // 28.09.2020, TheNextWeb

Amsterdam hosted the World Summit on AI in 2018 (©Rights reserved)

Platform 2: Human augmentation

Longevity & Health

Next Health Studie 2020 // 01.10.2020, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute
Während sich das Gesundheitssystem bislang in erster Linie mit Krankheiten beschäftigte, verschiebt sich der Fokus nun zunehmend in Richtung Gesundheit. Der technologische Fortschritt, insbesondere der wachsende Datenreichtum, machen es möglich, potenzielle Krankheiten schon vor dem Ausbruch zu erkennen und zu vermeiden.

Understanding the effect of aging on the genome // 29.09.2020, EPFL Press release
Based on an article in Cell Reports

The paleo diet may make your biological age older than your real age // 28.09.2020, New Scientist

Regenerative flatworms vs. rocket launch stress // 29.09.2020, ESA Press release

The privilege of longevity // October 2020, Nature Climate Change

Opportunities and limitations of genetically modified nonhuman primate models for neuroscience research // 29.09.2020, PNAS

Electronic blood vessels could replace damaged arteries // 01.10.2020, New Scientist
Based on an article in Matter.


The major genetic risk factor for severe COVID-19 is inherited from Neanderthals // 30.09.2020, Nature
Article in Le Monde

Inside mitochondria and their fascinating genome // 28.09.2020, EPFL Press release
Based on an article in Nature Cell Biology

‘The largest application we can imagine’: Illumina and Grail CEOs defend their deal to investors // 25.09.2020, STAT+

Anti-Alzheimer's gene variant enhances immune cells // 28.09.2020, TechnologyNetworks
Based on a study in Molecular Neurodegeneration

CRISPR-gene-edited parasite leads to unique new vaccine // 30.09.2020, NewAtlas
Based on a study in Nature Communications


> Stem cells can repair Parkinson's-damaged circuits in mouse brains // 25.09.2020, MedicalXpress

> New Brain-Computer Interface transforms thoughts to images // 27.09.2020, PsychologyToday
Based on an article published in Scientific Reports

> Neuroderechos en la Constitución: El debate sobre cómo regular las tecnologías que permitirán leer los cerebros // 26.09.2020, emol

> An altered state of consciousness illuminated // 01.10.2020, Nature

> Spotlight on Neurotechnology: building and mapping neuronal networks // 23.09.2020, Neuron

> Magnetic microbots can hook up brain cells to make a neural network // 25.09.2020, New Scientist

Microrobot covered in neurons (green and blue) (©Hongsoo Choi, Professor & Chair, Department of Robotics Engineering, Co Director, DGIST-ETH Microrobotics Research Center, DGIST)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering


Carbon-sucking bionic weeds are new front in climate change war // 25.09.202, Bloomberg

La viande végétale, nouvelle star de la bourse // 27.09.2020, Le Temps

Applications of CRISPR–Cas in agriculture and plant biotechnology // 24.09.2020, Nature Reviews

Des vaccins dans des plantes ? // 28.09.2020, Courrier International (repris de Horizon Magazin)

Climate and environment

Growing momentum behind carbon capture can make it a new clean energy success story // 28.09.2020, Euractiv
Based in an IEA report: Global climate goals 'virtually impossible' without carbon capture // 24.09.2020, Reuters

China’s top climate scientists lay out the road map to hit 2060 for the country to be carbon neutral // 28.09.2020, Bloomberg

Geneva cannot become carbon neutral without the will of its citizens // 29.09.2020, GenevaSolutions

Les précipitations dans la ville-éponge // 23.09.2020, DailyGreen
En lien: Rotterdam, modèle urbain pour la prévention des inondations

New white paper shows shift to regenerative agriculture could sequester 100 percent of annual carbon emissions // 25.09.2020, Rodale Insitute

Kelly Wanser on marine cloud Brightening for mitigating climate change (PODCAST) // 30.09.2020, Future of Life Institute


Planetary science decadal survey committee convened // 28.09.2020, American Institute of Physics
The National Academies decadal survey for planetary science and astrobiology is approaching full speed, as its steering committee gathers for its first two meetings this week. The survey will identify top research priorities and provide ranked-ordered mission recommendations to guide decision-making at NASA and the National Science Foundation through the early 2030s. For the first time, the survey will include consideration of planetary defense activities and crewed space exploration. The survey has already accepted nearly 600 white papers and convened a series of webinars for students and early-career researchers. Now, members of the full committee, who were announced earlier this month, will proceed to incorporate further research community input into its report, which is planned for release in 2022.

The US Army wants to modify SpaceX’s Starlink satellites for unjammable navigation // 28.09.2020, MIT Technology Review

Scientists may have found a material for building on Mars // 27.09.2020, WIRED

Space Weather preparedness bill clears congress // 27.09.2020, American Institute of Physics 
Based on this document: Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow 

Resources & Energy

L’hydrogène, nouvel eldorado de la politique énergétique française // 27.09.2020, Le Monde
'Zero emissions' hydrogen plane test was part powered by fossil fuels // 30.09.2020, New Scientist

Compact nuclear fusion reactor is ‘very likely to work,’ studies suggest // 29.09.2020, New York Times
Based on a news by MIT

The added value(s) of agroecology: unlocking the potential for transition in West Africa // Octobre 2020, IPES Food

Food–energy–water implications of negative emissions technologies in a +1.5°C future // October 2020, Nature Climate Change

The holy grails of chemistry // September 2020, Chemistry World
In this special, the magazine is asking what has become of the ‘holy grails’ outlined in an issue of Accounts of Chemical Research a quarter of a century ago. The short answer is: a lot. Some have been obtained (depending on your point of view); many others are still there for the taking. But every case has its fair share of discoveries, disappointments, surprises and success.

(©Chemistry World)

Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

Un million de morts du Covid, et la fin d'une illusion // 29.09.2020, Le Temps
Pour le médecin et éthicien Bertrand Kiefer, la pandémie a mis en lumière l’impuissance des technologies face au virus et les limites d’une société orientée d’abord vers le profil.

Prisonniers du Covid // 30.09.2020, Courrier International
Au moment où de nombreux pays annoncent de nouvelles mesures restrictives, certains reconfinant même partiellement, le Courrier International s’interroge cette semaine sur l’atteinte, à terme, portée aux libertés publiques. Ce provisoire est-il destiné à durer ? Pourra-t-on revenir en arrière ? Nos démocraties sont-elles suffisamment solides ? À quand un retour à la normale ?

Briefing to the Security Council on global governance Post-COVID-19 // 24.09.2020, by Antonio Guterres

As pandemic deaths pass 1 million, COVID survivors from 37 countries write to pharmaceutical bosses to demand a People's Vaccine // 29.09.2020, UNAids press release

New document reveals scope and structure of Operation Warp Speed and underscores vast military involvement // 28.09.2020, STATnews

Covid19: five opportunities for the Digital Transformation in Switzerland // September 2020, Digital Switzerland

How democracies can claim back power in the digital world (OPINION, by Marietje Schaake is the international policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center) // 29.09.2020, MIT Technology Review

Arctic science cannot afford a new cold war (EDITORIAL) // 30.09.2020, Nature

Democracy suffers when government statistics fail // 01.10.2020, Nature

The Global Goals // September 2020, UN
The world around us is changing, and fast. The COVID pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests have shone a new light on the inequalities that still persist. To make a change in our world, we need to understand what's happening. To do that, we need accurate and up-to-date information. Here is an excellent video produced for the UN 75th anniversary

(Copyright: Olivier Dessibourg)


> When things look bleak, thinking in terms of ‘hope horizons’ can help // 23.09.2020, New Scientist

> What the old establishment can teach the new tech elite // 18.09.2020, Wall Street Journal

> The “ScienceNews SN10” scientists to watch // October 2020, Science News

(Copyright: Olivier Dessibourg)


Micheline Calmy-Rey: How AI could become the new frontier in conflict resolution // 26.09.2020, GenevaSolutions.
Interview of former Swiss President and GESDA Board member in the framework of the partnership GESDA has established with GenevaSolutions (©DR)

The power of collaboration may be one silver lining of the Covid-19 crisis // 02.10.2020, GenevaSolutions
As the UN is turning 75, Nadia Isler, head of the SDGLab at the UN Office in Geneva, tells how much she is passionate about connecting people and institutions from very different backgrounds.
She also was the invited editor of the GSnews Daily Brief on Friday 2 October 2020.

> José Manuel Barroso named as new chair of the GAVI Board // 29.09.2020, GAVI press release
The Board’s Search Committee named Barroso’s considerable stature and experience, his track record as a leader, his immense experience chairing multi-stakeholder Boards and his commitment to international cooperation as deciding factors in making the selection. (©DR)

> Quinze personns de moins de 40 ans qui font la Genève internationale // 28.09.2020, Le Temps
Ils sont les éclaireurs avancés de la gouvernance mondiale. Basés à Genève et de toutes les nationalités, ces profils issus des organisations internationales, des ONG ou du monde académique sont les leaders du monde de demain. (©LeTemps)

Passage de témoin à la Fondation pour Genève // 30.09.2020, Communiqué de presse
Ivan Pictet, président depuis 22 ans (à droite sur l'image), cède sa place à Marc Pictet, Associé de Pictet&Cie Group SCA depuis 2010. (©DR)


> Global Citizens’ Assembly on  Genome Editing: connecting citizens, science and global governance // October 2020, by NEO.LIFE
Two dozen experts from the fields of deliberative democracy and genome editing (including George Church), published a Biotechnology Policy Forum article arguing that a group of ordinary people from around the world should be convened to learn, reflect, deliberate, and make recommendations about how genome editing should be regulated. The assembly’s recommendations wouldn’t have any legal weight, but we love the idea that giving the public a voice in the decision-making process will help people who don’t trust experts get on board. And we support anything that helps the public understand the complicated and messy process of science.

> Interview with MIT professor Sinan Aral: adapting to social media's disruptions in 'The Hype Machine' // 26.09.2020, NPR

> New program to train leaders of a more sustainable world // 30.09.2020, Press release


> ‘The Social Dilemma’ Will Freak You Out—But There’s More to the Story // 29.09.2020, Singularity Hub
Dramatic political polarization. Rising anxiety and depression. An uptick in teen suicide rates. Misinformation that spreads like wildfire. The common denominator of all these phenomena is that they’re fueled in part by our seemingly innocuous participation in digital social networking. But how can simple acts like sharing photos and articles, reading the news, and connecting with friends have such destructive consequences? These are the questions explored in the new Netflix docu-drama The Social Dilemma


> “COVID-19 is awful. Climate change could be worse.” Bill Gates, in conversation with Zanny Minton Beddoes, editor-in-chief of the Economist // 5.10.2020, 4:30pm CET, organized during the Sustainability Virtual Week by the Economist

> The Impact Investing SDGs Roadmap 2021 // 7.10.2020, 9:30 am, organized by Club Suisse de la Presse

> Exploring Frontiers: the future of brain health research // 7.10.2020, 6pm CET, organized by the Allen Institute and Paul G. Allen Frontiers Group

> Quantum Computing // 8.10.2020, 7pm CET, organized by New Scientist
In this talk, Ilyas Khan, CEO and founder of Cambridge Quantum Computing reveals how quantum computing is emerging as a reality with investors and large corporations entering the ring. He’ll review the rapid progress being made by a range of companies including Google, IBM and Microsoft and ask whether it’s time to believe the hype.

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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