View this email in your browser
GESDA's best pick from the press, web and science journals, in relation to GESDA's thematic platforms

28 May-04 June 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> What’s the origin of consciousness? Global effort puts two top theories to the test // 02.06.2021, Singularity Hub
How does consciousness work? A frenemy collaboration is duking it out. Six different teams from across the globe are uniting in a challenge to test our fundamental theories of consciousness. They don’t agree on where or how consciousness originates in the brain. But they’re willing to battle it out through a fair match. For the past two years – and the next few – the teams agreed to standardize tests to explore the limits of awareness, while generating intricate maps of brain activation during consciousness. These data are publicly available, encouraging anyone with a laptop to explore the roots of consciousness that emerge from the electrical chatter in our minds.

(© Pixabay)


> Denmark, Norway, and the United States to lead zero-emission shipping mission // 02.06.2021, US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
The governments of Denmark, Norway, and the United States, along with the Global Maritime Forum and the Mærsk Mc-Kinney Møller Center for Zero Carbon Shipping, announced that they will lead a new Zero-Emission Shipping Mission as part of Mission Innovation. The Mission aims to accelerate international public-private collaboration to scale and deploy new green maritime solutions, setting international shipping on an ambitious zero-emission course. The Mission will also be supported by the governments of India, Morocco, the U.K., Singapore, France, Ghana, and South Korea.



> Wanted: rules for pandemic data access that everyone can trust // 01.06.2021, Nature
In the wake of COVID, a pandemic treaty could be a way to agree on data access before the next emergency strikes.

Mobile COVID-19 testing in Amritsar, India. (© Narinder Nanu/AFP/Getty)


> Five inventions that are proof the post-human era is closer than we think // 20.05.2021, Medium
Many of us are far from ignorant when it comes to the realities that robotics, artificial intelligence, and the medical field present. We know there’s a lot of intelligence, wealth, and creative momentum floating around each. However, taking a moment to look at the advancements already being made in the sectors individually would be the only way to truly digest the trajectory of possibilities when they all unite.


> Decarbonisation technologies also address other environmental problems // 02.06.2021, Geneva Solutions
Scientists at EPFL, under the lead of Wendy Queen (Academic Moderator at GESDA) are designing porous materials that may not only help with carbon capture but also address other environmental areas of ongoing or future conflict: access to clean water and the mining of precious metals.

(@ EPFL)


> Sleep evolved before brains. Hydras are living proof // 30.05.2021, WIRED
Some of nature’s simplest animals suggest that sleep evolved long before centralized nervous systems.

One of the simplest forms of animal life, the tiny aquatic organism called the hydra, has been shown to spend some time every few hours asleep — a fact that deepens the mystery of why sleep evolved in the first place. (© Science Source)


> The human factor – why data is not enough to understand the world // 28.05.2021, Financial Times
A couple of years ago, staff at a Google “tech incubator” called Jigsaw made an important breakthrough: they realised that while their company has come to epitomise the power of technology, there are some problems that computers alone cannot solve. Or not, at least, without humans. While algorithms are still powerful tools, Gillian Tett explores why companies are turning to anthropology to balance the insights of algorithms and AI.

(© Matthew Billington)


> The new geopolitics of global business // 05.06.2021, The Economist
China and America dominate like never before. Twenty years ago this week the share price of a startup run by an obsessive called Jeff Bezos had slumped by 71% over 12 months. Amazon’s near-death experience was part of the dotcom crash that exposed Silicon Valley’s hubris and, along with the $14bn fraud at Enron, shattered confidence in American business. China, meanwhile, was struggling to privatise its creaking state-owned firms, and there was little sign that it could create a culture of entrepreneurship. Instead the bright hope was in Europe, where a new single currency promised to catalyse a giant business-friendly integrated market.

(© Pete Ryan)


> Setting ethical limits on human gene editing after the fall of the somatic/germline barrier // 01.06.2021, PNAS
The ethical debate about what is now called human gene editing (HGE) has gone on for more than 50 years. For nearly that entire time, there has been consensus that a moral divide exists between somatic and germline HGE. Conceptualizing this divide as a barrier on a slippery slope, in this paper, I first describe the slope, what makes it slippery, and describe strong barriers that arrest the slippage down to the dystopian bottom of pervasive eugenic enhancement. I then show how the somatic/germline barrier in the debate has been weakened to the level of ineffectiveness, with no replacement below. I examine a number of possible barriers on the slope below the somatic/germline barrier, most of which lack sufficient strength. With the exception of the minority of people in the HGE debate who see the eugenic society as utopia, the majority will need a barrier on the slope to stop the slide to dystopia.


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> Quantum memory crystals are a step towards a futuristic internet // 02.06.2021, New Scientist

Airbus leads European quantum internet consortium // 01.06.2021, SpaceWatch.Global
Related press release

Quantum machine learning for data classification // 01.06.2021, Physics

> 6 quantum security & encryption startups to watch out for in 2021 // 27.05.2021, The Quantum Daily

Artificial intelligence 

> Bart Selman on the promises and perils of artificial intelligence // 20.05.2021, Future of Life Institute

Ex-Google boss slams transparency rules in Europe’s AI bill // 31.05.2021, Politico

Machine learning is booming in medicine. It’s also facing a credibility crisis // 02.06.2021, STAT

The age of killer robots may have already begun // 29.05.2021, Axios

> Robots have grasped andmanipulated theimagination since 1839 // 26.05.2021, Science robotics

> China's gigantic multi-modal AI is no one-trick pony // 02.06.2021, Endgadget

Kargu-2 Autonomous Rotary Wing Attack Drone STM

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> Researchers claim they have sequenced the entirety of the human genome - including the missing parts // 01.06.2022, STAT

Scientists discover a new genetic form of ALS in children // 01.06.2021, NIH press release

> The mRNA vaccine revolution is just beginning // 03.06.2021, WIRED 


> How to slow the ageing of your brain // 12.05.2021, Medium

> Indian scientists construct a powerful artificial synaptic network to imitate the human brain // 03.06.2021, Analytics Insight

> Bursting potentiates the neuro–AI connection // 13.05.2021, Nature neurosciences

Longevity and health

Prepping for the next big outbreak // 04.06 2021, Axios
Related articles:
> Animals are still key to preventing the next pandemic // 29.05.2021, Axios
> Plankton hold secrets to preventing pandemics // 01.06.2021, NSF press release

> The big-pharma firm that saw the future // 05.06.2021, The Economist
Long ago Roche bet on personalised health care. Now its time has come.

Replicating patients’ tumours to test different treatments // 02.06.2021, University of Geneva press release

China reports first human case of H10N3 bird flu // 01.06.2021, Reuters

Biohacking à Dubaï : "pirater" son corps pour améliorer sa santé // 31.05.2021, Euronews

> An artificial neural tactile sensing system // 03.06.2021, Nature electronics

Personalized medicine: The simulated patient // 01.06.2021, EMPA press release

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> Un sommet de l’ONU sur l’alimentation vivement contesté // 29.05.2021, Le Monde

> Les racines, grandes oubliées de l’agronomie et clés d’un futur écoresponsable // 31.05.2021, Le Monde


€820M fund set up to bring down the price of clean energy // 03.06.2021, Science|Business
Related press release: Commission and Breakthrough Energy Catalyst announce new partnership to support investments in clean technologies for low-carbon industries

> China’s “artificial sun” fusion reactor just set a world record // 29.05.2021, Futurism

This long-awaited technology may finally change the world // 29.05.2021, Medium
Solid-state batteries are poised to emerge in the coming years.


> Rewriting the genetic code (perspective) // 04.06.2021, Science
Making room in the genetic code allows the creation of designer proteins with new building blocks.
Related article: A genetic recode // 04.05.2021, Science
Bacteria with a completely synthetic genome can be engineered to create new proteins from building blocks not naturally found in cells.

> Life 2.0 – A CRISPR path to a sustainable planet // 28.05.2021, PNAS

> Third generation whole-cell sensing systems: synthetic biology inside, nanomaterial outside // 01.06.2021, Trends in biotechnology

> Synthetic threads through the web of life // 01.06.2021, PNAS

Climate and environment

Copernicus Marine Service to contribute to digital twin of the ocean project // 03.06.2021, EU Copernicus press release
More information here.

Evaluating risk and resilience — what to do when you can’t save everything // 01.06.2021, Medium/WWF

Iconic animals are under threat if we breach 1.5°C warming, warns WWF // 02.06.2021, New Scientist

Turning carbon offsets into catnip for traders: green insight // 02.06.2021, Bloomberg Law

> How much can science really tell us about the future of climate change? // 03.06.2021, Aeon


> A space telescope that could protect Earth from asteroids has been stuck in 'NASA mission limbo hell' - but it may finally escape // 02.06.2021, Yahoo! News

The scientific hunt for life isn't about UFOs // 01.06.2022, Axios

Russia, China hope to secure partners for moon base project // 31.05.2021, SpaceNews

Russia might send a nuclear-powered 'space tug' to deep space by 2030 // 28.05.2021, Interesting Engineering

> Space traffic coordination: developing a framework for safety and security in satellite operations // 23.05.2021, Space: Science &Technology

Companies and government agencies announce plans for lunar rover projects // 27.05.2021, SpaceNews

Lockheed Martin and General Motors released concept art for their proposed lunar rover they seek to develop for NASA, but the companies said the design of the rover is still in its very early stages.
(© Lockheed Martin/General Motors)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

Vers un multilatéralisme 2.0 // 27.05.2021, University of Geneva press release
L’UNIGE lance un centre interdisciplinaire dédié à la diplomatie computationnelle. Une structure qui vise à améliorer la compréhension des enjeux globaux tout en redéfinissant le cadre théorique des relations internationales grâce au potentiel de l’ère numérique.

Eric Lander takes helm at OSTP // 01.06.2021, American Institute of Physics
The Senate has confirmed Eric Lander as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Lander is the 11th person to hold the job since Congress created it in 1976 and the first biologist.

> Why the synthetic cell needs democratic governance // 01.06.2021, Trends in Biotechnology

New Zealand signs Artemis Accords // 01.06.2021, SpaceNews

Appeal for pandemic treaty, more resources and vaccine equity close World Health Assembly // 31.05.2021, Health Policy Watch
Related article: Global leaders call for $50-billion investment to end COVID-19, boost economies // 01.06.2021, Health Policy Watch

> Strengthening the United Nations Secretary-General’s Mechanism to an alleged use of bioweapons through a quality-assured laboratory response // 25.05.2021, Nature communications

A windfall for poor countries is within reach // 01.06.2021, Financial Times
High-income states can help by lending on their IMF special drawing rights.


> Die Stunde der Spinner – Wissenschaft und Freiheit (Gastkommentar von Eduard Kaeser) // 04.06.2021, NZZ
Spannungen zwischen Wissenschaft und Öffentlichkeit gab es schon immer, doch Corona hat beide auf Konfrontationskurs gebracht. Intellektuelle Einäugigkeit erweist sich als besonders resistentes Virus.

> Die Corona-Modelle bergen grundlegende Mängel – das eigentliche Problem hat die Task-Force aber mit ihrer Kommunikation // 31.05.2021, NZZ

Biden seeks big increases for science budgets // 28.05.2021, Science

Swiss scientists fear becoming ‘collateral damage’ in breakdown of EU treaty talks // 28.05.2021, Science

> Die EU-Kommission schlägt die Einführung einer elektronischen Identitätskarte vor // 03.06.2021, NZZ

Mass scale manipulation of Twitter Trends discovered // 02.06.2021, EPFL


TSPN Talks Science Diplomacy: Dr. Marga Gual Soler // 30.05.2021, Toronto Science Policy Network
The Toronto Science Policy Network hosted Dr Marga Gual Soler for TSPN Talks Science Diplomacy. Marga Gual Soler (also GESDA Academic Moderator) is the founder and director of SciDipGLOBAL, an international strategy, advisory, research and training consultancy in science diplomacy and science-policy interfaces.
(Photo: DR)

Why "International Geneva" matters // 28.05.2021, The Geneva Observer
An interview with Dr. Olaf Wientzek, Director of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Geneva. (Photo: DR)

L’emploi mondial a souffert du Covid-19 // 02.06.2021, Le Temps
L'Organisation internationale du travail, dirigée par Guy Ryder (Diplomacy Moderator pour GESDA) a présenté mercredi un rapport sur l'impact du covid sur le marché de l'emploi. La pandémie a exacerbé de façon dramatique les inégalités et l'extrême pauvreté. (© ILO)

We must seize the moment for a global pandemic surveillance and response scheme // 03.06.2021, BMJ blog
Opinion by Amandeep Gill, project director & CEO, International Digital Health and Artificial Intelligence Research Collaborative (I-DAIR), Geneva, Switzerland. (© The Graduate Institute)


> What we know about effective public engagement on CRISPR and beyond // 01.06.2021, PNAS

Brainhack: Developing a culture of open, inclusive, community-driven neuroscience // 02.06.2021, Neuron

> EPFL articles, videos and photos can now be used freely by anyone // 01.06.2021, EPFL news

> Misinformation is a public health crisis – so let's treat it this way // 03.06.2021, NEO.LIFE
Related article: Overconfidence in news judgments is associated with false news susceptibility // 08.06.2021, PNAS

SDI releases Annual Report 2020 // 02.06.2021, Swiss Digital Initiative
2020 was a challenging year but also proved productive for the Swiss Digital Initiative. In addition to creating the Foundation and securing funding, there were significant activities around the first project of the initiative: the development of a Digital Trust Label. Meanwhile, the Covid-19 crisis shows even more clearly the need for an organization like the Swiss Digital Initiative as we need to ask ourselves what kind of digitalisation we want and to what end new tools and technologies should serve.


> Responsible AI - an imperative // 08.06.2021 4pm-7pm CET, organized by Swiss Cognitive
Approaches, strategies, and best practices for building & using AI technologies that are accountable, comprehensive, efficient, transparent, ethical, and consistent with user expectations, organizational values, societal laws and norms.


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:
Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator
c/o Fondation Campus Biotech
Chemin des Mines 9
1202 Geneva
+41 58 201 02 61

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can unsubscribe from this list.