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

29 August - 4 September 2020

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Silicon Valley billionaires want to geoengineer the world's oceans // 01.09.2020, New Scientist
Some of the world’s richest people are funding research that could use the oceans to combat climate change, a New Scientist investigation has found. Last September, scientists, policy-makers and funders met in California to discuss an idea to use an emerging suite of technologies known as ocean alkalinity enhancement. This aims to reduce both ocean acidification – which threatens delicate ecosystems like coral reefs – and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Unknown to many of the attendees, the organisation behind the conference, Oceankind, is likely to be controlled by a Silicon Valley billionaire who would be able to fund a significant geoengineering effort out of their own pocket

Ocean alkalinity enhancement could save the Great Barrier Reef (Wikkicommons)


The case against growth // 27.08.2020, Tortoise
“Green growth” sounds like a win-win, but there’s a problem. Even politicians who take climate change seriously promise to tackle it without denting economic growth. Many of them say getting to net zero is actually a growth opportunity, especially for early adapters. What if it’s all hokum?

(Illustration: Tortoise)


> Expert panel lays out guidelines for germline editing, while warning against pursuit of ‘CRISPR babies’ // 03.09.2020, STATnews
The world is still not ready for "CRISPR babies," an international advisory panel warned on Sept 3rd, nearly two years after a pair of twins whose genomes had been CRISPR'd were born in China. The group cited unresolved scientific and ethical questions in its report, which also outlined steps that scientists wishing to experiment with the technology in humans ought to take.

> Russian biologist still aims to make CRISPR babies despite the risks (and despite the aforementioned report) // 03.09.2020, New Scientist

> Assessing public opinion on CRISPR-Cas9: combining crowdsourcing and deep learning // 31.08.2020, Journal of Medical Internet Research
Article by Effy Vayena (ETHZ & Platform 2 moderator), Marcel Salathé (EPFL), and others

> Synthetic immunomodulation with a CRISPR super-repressor in vivo // 03.09.2020, Nature Cell Biology
New article by Samira Kiani (University of Pittsburgh & Platform 2 moderator)


Peter Brabeck-Letmathe (President)

1. "The Precipice", Toy Ord (BOOK, 2020)
Exploring the cutting-edge science behind existential risk and the future of humanity.

2. "More from less", Andrew McAfee (BOOK2019)
The surprising story of how we learned to prosper with fewer ressources - and what happens next.

3. "Ten Billion", Stephen Emmott (BOOK, 2013)
With the growing world population: a snapshot of our planet, and our species, approaching a crisis, and a stark analysis of where this leaves us.


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI


A trusted node–free eight-user metropolitan quantum communication network // 02.09.2020, Science Advances
Explanatory article in New Scientist

A molecular approach to quantum computing // 02.09.2020, Physical Review X – CalTech press release

Artificial intelligence

> AI is here. This is how it can benefit everyone // 01.09.2020, WEF
According to InsideIA, “the World Economic Forum (WEF) is urging countries to set up national centers for AI excellence to promote ethical use of artificial intelligence. Such centers could oversee crucial AI issues like accuracy, transparency, and privacy,”

> Peter Railton on moral learning and metaethics in AI systems (PODCAST) // 18.08.2020, Future of Life Institute
As AI systems become increasingly autonomous and active in social situations involving human and non-human agents, AI moral competency via the capacity for moral learning will become more and more critical. Peter Albert Railton is is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, since 1979. He discusses the potential role of moral learning and moral epistemology in AI systems.

The carbon impact of AI // August 2020, Nature Machine Learning

Google offers to help others with the tricky ethics of AI // 28.08.2020, WIRED

Five myths of machine learning & chatbots debunked  // 26.08.2020, Medium


Platform 2: Human augmentation


Single cell transcriptomics comes of age // 27.08.2020, Nature Communications

Longevity and health

Bodybuilding supplement promotes healthy aging and extends life span, at least in mice // 01.09.2020, Science

In research on middle-aged mice, scientists find a metabolite that leads to a longer, healthier life // 01.09.2020, STAT+
Based on a study published in Cell Metabolism

> These scientists are giving themselves D.I.Y. coronavirus vaccines // 01.09.2020, NY Times
Amongst them: George Church (Harvard and Expert for Platform 2)

Nanoparticles for healthy tissue // 01.09.2020, ESA


> “Like taking away a part of myself” — life after a neural implant trial // August 2020, Nature Medicine

Geneva-based Wyss Center develops the AppStore of brain-machine interfaces // 01.09.2020, Geneva.Solutions/

Riding waves in neuromorphic computing // 26.08.2020, Physics

Puberty can repair the brain’s stress responses after hardship early in life // 28.08.2020, ScienceNews

> Is consciousness continuous or discrete? Maybe it's both, argue researchers (from EPFL) // 03.09.2020, MedicalXPress
Based on an Opinion published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences 

Reflections on the past two decades of neuroscience // 02.09.2020, Nature Medicine

Special section: reactions to Neuralink's announcement

> Elon Musk’s Neuralink is neuroscience theater // 30.08.2020, MIT Technology Review
Elon Musk’s vision of the future takes another step forward // 02.09.2020, The Economist
Neuralink’s widely anticipated new brain implant: the hype vs. the science // 01.09.2020, SingularityHub
Après l’espace, Elon Musk prétend révolutionner la médecine // 31.08.2020, LeTemps
Everything you need to know about Elon Musk's live demo of the Neuralink AI brain chip that he claims will one day cure paralysis and give people telepathy // 29.08.2020, BusinessInsider

(Copyright: Neuralink)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering


A global analysis of the progress and failure of electric utilities to adapt their portfolios of power-generation assets to the energy transition // 31.08.2020, Nature Energy

Researchers develop molecule to store solar energy // 31.08.2020, Phys.Org
Based on a study published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society

Protect global supply chains for low-carbon technologies // 03.09.2020, Nature

Novel technology for the selection of single photosynthetic cells // 02.09.2020, Science Advances - Uppsala University press release

> Plan de relance en Frrance: tout comprendre à l'hydrogène, sur lequel l'exécutif mise 7,2 milliards d'euros // 03.09.2020, Le Figaro


Big oil is in trouble. Its plan: flood Africa with plastic // 30.08.2020, NY Times

Five priorities to operationalize the EAT–Lancet Commission report // August 2020, Nature Food
To operationalize the great food system transformation and ensure its sustainability, five areas of research and action require more attention: economic and structural costs; political economy; diversity of cultural norms; equity and social justice; and governance and decision support tools.

Integrated ocean management for a sustainable ocean economy // 17.08.2020, Nature Ecology and Evolution

The world’s deepest freshwater cave just got a whole lot deeper // 31.08.2020, Science

Isobutanol production freed from biological limits using synthetic biochemistry // 27.08.2020, Nature Communications

Natural protein captures rare-earth elements better than synthetic chelators // 27.08.2020, Chemical&Engineering News


> Single atom catalysis: a decade of stunning progress and the promise for a bright future // 27.08.2020, Nature Communications

Climate & environment

> Living Planet & Africalink: Africa's changing climate (PODCAST) // 27.08.2020, DW Made for minds
In Africa, what does climate science and climate activism look like on a continent already dealing with climate impacts today? How can African nations address energy poverty without contributing more greenhouse gas emissions? And is it time for climate reparations?

> System Positive // 02.09.2020, Bloomberg newsletter
According to Bloomberg, Generation Investment Management, the $24 billion asset manager started by Al Gore, released a guide last week for how investors can systemically map the future. The key is to ask what societal shifts need to happen to make a company’s sector truly sustainable, whether it will benefit from that transition, and whether its leaders are long-term thinkers with the levers, coalitions and partnerships to make change happen.

Special section: Carbon removal

> Antacids for the sea? Artificial ocean alkalinization and climate change // 21.08.2020, OneEarth (Cell Press)
Buildings as a global carbon sink? A reality check on feasibility limits // 21.08.2020, OneEarth (Cell Press) 
Articles in link in the same journal:

Quelle pourrait être l’importance des émissions négatives de CO2 pour les futures politiques climatiques de la Suisse? // 02.09.2020,
Rapport du Conseil fédéral
Récupération de CO2 dans l’air: Climeworks passe la vitesse supérieure et lève 28 millions de francs // 27.08.2020, Le Temps


NSF and NASA partner to address space weather research and forecasting // 01.09.2020, NSF and NASA press release

Why Europe is helping to build a ‘bus stop’ in space // 01.09.2020, Science|Business

Has Earth's oxygen rusted the Moon for billions of years? // 02.09.2020, Science Advances
Related press release by Nasa/JPL

Meet the Experts: Laws of space // 28.08.2020, ESA

(Copyright: ESA)

Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

Computational social science: Obstacles and opportunities // 28.08.2020, Science
The field of computational social science (CSS) has exploded in prominence over the past decade, with thousands of papers published using observational data, experimental designs, and large-scale simulations that were once unfeasible or unavailable to researchers. The authors list opportunities to address the nonetheless existing issues (such as research ethics, pedagogy, and data infrastructure) to align universities and the intellectual requirements of the field.

Computing humanity: how Facebook, Twitter and other data troves are revolutionizing social science // 17.06.2020, Nature

> SPECIAL ISSUE: Democracy: In Flux and Under Threat // 03.09.2020, Science

Brazil is sliding into techo-authoritarianism // 19.08.2020, MIT Technology Review

> Decoding Europe’s new fascination with ‘tech sovereignty’ // 03.09.2020, Science|Business

Resilience in the developing world benefits everyone (COMMENT) // 27.08.2020, Nature Climate Change

Face au Covid-19, le soutien de l'Europe au numérique africain // 24.08.2020, Le Point

Investors have been making the same mistake for 300 years (OP-ED) // 23.08.2020, The Atlantic

World Ocean Council encourages participation in public consultation on the way forward for the European Union’s Arctic policy // 28.08.2020, World Ocean Council
Access to the EU public consultation here

(Copyright: Olivier Dessibourg)


> Accelerating research to impact society at scale // 03.09.2020, NSF Press release
Research drives the development of innovations that improve our daily lives. That's why the U.S. National Science Foundation works to make the transition from use-inspired research into practical applications as fast and productive as possible. NSF created the Convergence Accelerator program as a cornerstone for efforts to address national-scale societal challenges, integrating multidisciplinary research and innovation processes to transition research and discovery toward impactful solutions.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb : « Les institutions devraient avoir une date d'expiration » (LONG INTERVIEW) // 29.08.2020, Le Point
Le philosophe, auteur du «Cygne noir», développe ses réflexions sur l'incertitude et l'«antifragilité».

Switzerland enjoys decade-long high atop UN innovation ranking // 02.09.2020,

Un test PCR individuel pour retrouver une économie normale en attendant le vaccin // 01.09.2020,
Mentioning Patrick Aebischer visionary views in the field.


> Interview with Marie-Laure Salles, new director of the Graduate Institute // 01.09.2020, Graduate Institute
Marie-Laure Salles comes to the Institute in Geneva after a vibrant career at both Sciences Po Paris and ESSEC Business School in Paris. (@IHEID)

> Adji Bousso Dieng, AI expert from Senegal, is helping showcase africans in STEM // 30.08.2020, Forbes
Not only has she contributed to the field of generative modeling, she will be Princeton's School of Engineering's first Black female faculty. (©Forbes)

From Emergency Room To Classroom – The Double Life Of Dr Vinh-Kim Nguyen // 01.09.2020, Health Policy Watch
Vinh-Kim Nguyen, accustomed to straddling two worlds – academia and front-line medical work - gives an interview as new co-director of the Global Health Centre of the Geneva Graduate Institute. (©DR)


> Étienne Klein, philosophe des sciences : «Si un chercheur honnête dit 'je ne sais pas' à la télé, on ne va pas le réinviter» // 28.08.2020, Charlie Hebdo

New Resource: Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems // 31.08.2020, Future of Life Institute


> Stream or skip? A synthetic biologist’s review of ‘Biohackers’ on Netflix // 02.09.2020, SingularityHub


> The STAT Health Tech Summit // 9-10.09.2020, organized by STAT
Breakthroughs in health and medicine are not just biological — they’re technological. Join us for our next STAT Summit as we assemble top executives, policymakers, and researchers working at the intersection of health and technology. Learn how pharmaceutical companies are weaving the power of Moore’s law into their efforts to develop new medical advances. Hear from experts on how technology companies — from giants like Apple and Google to upstarts just emerging from stealth — are working to improve the lives of patients. And join discussions about how Covid-19 has and will continue to impact health tech breakthroughs.

> The Tortoise G7bn Summit: What do people of the world need from their leaders now? // 10.09.2020, 9:15 GMT, organized by Tortoise
Join world leaders and change-makers for a day of constructive debate, fresh thinking and bright ideas. Together, let’s develop a global leadership blueprint that’s fit for a better future.

Foresight Around The Clock // 06.09.2020, 12:30pm GMT organized by Formwelten-Institute 
The kind of thinking that has led humanity into its present set of crises isn’t sufficient for us to find our way out of these crises. Instead, insights likely need to be absorbed and integrated from study of systems, resiliency, emergence, health, sustainability, and transhumanism.
Have a very nice and fruitful week! :-)

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 panoramic scientific outlook, it will 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 technologists, but will include actors of various professional origins and mindsets (from diplomacy, philanthropy, industry, citizens to, youth).

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

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