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

25 January - 1st February 2022

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Why is Silicon Valley still waiting for the next big thing? // 24.01.2022, The New York Times
The tech industry has grown ever more rich off big ideas that were developed more than a decade ago. New things like quantum computing and self-driving cars could take a while.

(© Sean Dong)


> The geopolitics of climate change and cleantech // 31.01.2022, Hinrich Foundation
The quest to decarbonize the global economy by 2050 has led to a sizable shift in investment toward “cleantech”. But the road to a carbon-neutral world must pass through a quagmire of economic nationalism, inward-looking domestic politics, and a new kind of climate-driven realpolitik.


> Everyday objects can run artificial intelligence programs // 26.01.2022, Science
The computational layers inside a neural network could be powered by any number of physical systems, including nontraditional hardware, researchers say.

(© Philipp Jordan)


> The quantum edge // 23.01.2022, The Wire China
With more than 400 Chinese companies on the US Commerce Department's list of sanctioned firms — the so-called US Entity List — it hardly even registers as news when more are added. But recently, the federal agency quietly made a bold announcement: eight more China-based “entities” were being added to the list, this time “to prevent US emerging technologies from being used for the PRC’s quantum computing efforts.”  While the US government has moved to promote quantum science domestically, the Commerce Department’s sanctions represented the first time the federal government was acting defensively, and it underscored what observers in the field have been warning about for years: China is rapidly closing the quantum gap. Should the US be worried?

Related article: Russia sets up national quantum lab // 29.01.2022, The Quantum Insider

Related general articles:

> What is the quantum apocalypse and should we be scared? // 27.01.2022, BBC

> What if quantum computing is a bust? // 26.01.2022, SLATE

(© Luis Granena)


> The battle for the world’s most powerful cyberweapon // 28.01.2022, The New York Times
This NYTimes investigation reveals how Israel reaped diplomatic gains around the world from NSO’s Pegasus spyware — a tool America itself purchased but is now trying to ban.

(Illustration: Cristiana Couceiro)


> How to build a better metaverse // 27.01.2022, WIRED
Second Life creator Philip Rosedale wants to prevent the Facebook-ization of virtual reality.

Related articles:

> Vestager: Metaverse poses new competition challenges // 18.01.2022, Politico
The EU’s digital czar says, ‘We should start thinking about it now’ when it comes to regulating new digital spaces.

> Meta is making a monster AI supercomputer for the metaverse // 26.01.2022, Singularity Hub

(© flickr)


> Commission puts forward declaration on digital rights and principles for everyone in the EU // 26.01.2022, European Commission
The Commission is proposing to the European Parliament and Council to sign up to a declaration of rights and principles that will guide the digital transformation in the EU. The draft declaration on digital rights and principles aims to give everyone a clear reference point about the kind of digital transformation Europe promotes and defends. It will also provide a guide for policy makers and companies when dealing with new technologies. The rights and freedoms enshrined in the EU's legal framework, and the European values expressed by the principles, should be respected online as they are offline. Once jointly endorsed, the Declaration will also define the approach to the digital transformation which the EU will promote throughout the world.

(© European Commission)


> 2021 Artificial Intelligence and Automated Systems Annual Legal Review // 20.01.2022, Gibson Dunn
2021 was a busy year for policy proposals and lawmaking related to artificial intelligence (“AI”) and automated technologies.  The OECD identified 700 AI policy initiatives in 60 countries, and many domestic legal frameworks are taking shape.  With the new Artificial Intelligence Act, which is expected to be finalized in 2022, it is likely that high-risk AI systems will be explicitly and comprehensively regulated in the EU.  While there have been various AI legislative proposals introduced in Congress, the United States has not embraced a comprehensive approach to AI regulation as proposed by the European Commission, instead focusing on defense and infrastructure investment to harness the growth of AI.

Related report: Responsible AI Guidelines // January 2022, Defense Innovation Unit

(© pixabay)


> Harnessing technology and innovation for a better future in Africa: Policy priorities for enabling the ‘Africa we want’ // January 2022, Brookings
The COVID-19 crisis has changed how the world functions, bringing to light many limitations of existing systems and showing the need to reimagine the role of informational technology as a tool for economic growth. Indeed, the pandemic has accelerated the velocity and effectiveness of technology innovation, adoption, policy, and regulation. Although African countries have benefited from the acceleration of technological uptake across sectors, such as health care or economic transformation, the region still grapples with gaps in critical areas, including in human capacity and infrastructure.

This chapter (No5) is part of the report Foresight Africa: Top priorities for the Continent in 2022.

Brain-machine interfaces can help to augment human consciousness in three different ways:
1. Augmenting the sensory inputs that define existing consciousness could redefine the resulting consciousness. Restoring and augmenting sensory inputs to consciousness is already done by gene therapy, cochlear and retinal implants.
2. Interfacing with a different type of body could augment consciousness by expanding the human body map.
3. Altering the environment we experience in virtual reality could change our perception of and relationship to the spatial world by, for example, putting us into several places at the same time.


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> Carbon nanomaterials for future quantum technologies // 31.01.2022, EMPA

Silicon qubits reach the standard for quantum error correction // 26.01.2022, Physics World

Quantum computers could crack bitcoin. Here’s what it would take // 30.01.2022, Singularity Hub

Research team chase down advantage in quantum race // 26.01.2022,

Artificial intelligence and robots 

> Experimental robot surgeon can operate without human help // 26.01.2022, Gizmodo

Xénobots, biobots : doit-on avoir peur des « robots vivants » ? // 27.01.2022, The Conversation

The new version of GPT-3 is much better behaved (and should be less toxic) // 27.01.2022, MIT Technology Review

AI’s 6 worst-case scenarios // 03.01.2022, IEEE Spectrum
Who needs Terminators when you have precision clickbait and ultra-deepfakes?

How organisms come to know the world: Fundamental limits on artificial general intelligence // 28.01.2022, Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution

Optimizing machines is perilous. Consider ‘creatively adequate’ AI // 25.01.2022, WIRED

(Photo-illustration: Sam Whitney; Getty Images)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> Control review: The troubling past, present and future of eugenics // 26.01.2022, New Scientist

China has rejected the world’s top mRNA vaccines. Now, it’s making its own // 26.01.2022, Fortune

This company says it’s developing a system that can recognize your face from just your DNA // 31.01.2022, MIT Technology Review
Though it almost certainly won’t work, it is a telling sign of where the field is heading.

Longevity and health

Gene variant found in centenarians appears to slow the ageing process // 31.01.2022, New Scientist

The capitalist trap of pig organ transplants // 27.01.2022, WIRED

Multi-omic rejuvenation of naturally aged tissues by a single cycle of transient reprogramming // 21.01.2022, bioRxiv

Blocking genes regenerates mouse liver // 27.01.2022, Cell Stem Cell (through NEO.LIFE)

Frogs regrow amputated legs after treatment with a chemical cocktail // 26.01.2022, New Scientist

Alternatives to fecal transplants near approval // 27.01.2022, Science


No hallucinations? LSD relatives appear to treat depression in mice, without obvious side effects // 27.01.2022, Science

Experts are ringing alarms about Elon Musk’s brain implants // 25.01.2022, Daily Beast

Sense of agency for intracortical brain-machine interfaces // 19.01.2022, Nature Human Behaviour
These findings of Olaf Blanke’s group at EPFL (also GESDA Academic Moderator) show that primary motor cortex encodes information related to action and sensing, but also sensorimotor and subjective agency signals, which in turn are relevant for clinical applications of brain–machine interfaces. The research demonstrates that deeply subjective signals of agency (not just basic motor signals) can be accessed, decoded, controlled, altered in the human brain.

A single-cell atlas of the normal and malformed human brain vasculature // 27.01.2022, Science

(© flickr)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Impact assessment of EC 2030 Green Deal Targets for sustainable crop production // January 2021, Wageningen University report


Physicists report first creation of self-heating plasma for nuclear fusion // 27.01.2022, Axios

The challenges and opportunities of battery-powered flight // 26.01.2022, Nature


> Agriculture suisse: les paysans ouvrent la porte aux «nouveaux OGM» // 27.01.2022, 24 heures

China to allow gene-edited crops in push for food security // 25.01.2022, Reuters

Genome editing’s patent problem fuels concern for the future of food // 31.01.2022,


> It's time to take reproduction in space seriously // 29.01.2022, Axios

Hibernate for a trip to Mars, the bear way // 31.01.2022, ESA
Related study: European space agency's hibernation (torpor) strategy for deep space missions: Linking biology to engineering // December 2021, Neuroscience & Behavioral Reviews

NASA’s newest spinoff tech comes back to Earth // 25.01.2022, WIRED

> White House official: Norms needed for ‘satellite to satellite interaction’ // 26.01.2022, SpaceNews

Climate and environment

> International Geneva turns focus to nature and peace // 31.01.2022, Geneva Solutions

« Le G7 dirigé par l’Allemagne peut stimuler la décarbonation et la justice climatique » (opinion) // 30.01.2022, Le Monde

Empowered by digital tools cities will work together towards Net Zero // 27.01.2022, WWF

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> Diplomacy and artificial intelligence: Reflections on practical assistance for diplomatic negotiations // January 2022, German Institute for International and Security Affairs

Executive Board Meeting ends with concerns about WHO’s sustainability and board´s ability to govern efficiently // 30.01.2022, Health Policy Watch
Related article: Russia warns against ‘politicisation’ of WHO // 31.01.2022, Health Policy Watch

Facebook promised poor countries free internet. People got charged anyway // 24.01.2022, The Wall Street Journal

The future of war // 26.01.2022, Financial Times
Two books shed light on the evolution of conflict, from AI-directed ‘warbots’ to digital disinformation.

(© SpaceDigital)

GESDA platform: Knowledge Foundations

> Microbial survival in an extreme Martian analog ecosystem: Poás Volcano, Costa Rica // 28.01.2022, Frontiers in Astronomy and Space Sciences

Can we prove the world isn’t a simulation? (opinion by David Chalmers) // 26.01.2022, Nautilus
Related article: Adventures in technophilosophy: On the reality of virtual worlds // 28.01.2022, Literary Hub


> At the limits of thought // 20.04.2020, Aeon
Science today stands at a crossroads: will its progress be driven by human minds or by the machines that we’ve created?

Geologists to pinpoint official birthplace of the Anthropocene in 2022 // 25.01.2022, New Scientist
Whether we are in a new geological epoch is still up for debate, but geologists have almost decided where on Earth should be the official birthplace of the Anthropocene.

National Science Board weighs in on state of US science // 28.01.2022, AIP
A new report from the National Science Board finds that the U.S. has continued to lose its clear leadership position in global science and engineering. Accordingly, the board recommends the nation position itself as an international hub for scientific collaboration and take urgent action to strengthen the domestic STEM workforce.


> 10 digital diplomacy and governance trends for 2022 // 25.01.2022, DiploFoundation
In 2022, ten trends will accelerate across three main areas of interplay between digital governance and diplomacy, say Jovan Kurbalija, Founding Director of the DiploFoundation: digital geopolitics and geoeconomics, new digital topics on diplomatic agendas, and new tools for diplomacy. (Photo: © Wikipedia)

> Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala fait le ménage à l’OMC // 30.01.2022, Le Temps
La directrice de l’Organisation mondiale du commerce veut moderniser son fonctionnement. De quoi provoquer démissions, et grogne au sein de l’organisation sise à Genève. Une réunion cruciale est annoncée pour mardi. (Photo: © Reuters)

> Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus reconduit à la tête de l’OMS // 24.01.2022, Le Temps
Très critiqué au début de la pandémie, le directeur général de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé fait désormais presque l’unanimité. Seul candidat en lice, il a été confirmé dans ses fonctions par le Conseil exécutif de l’OMS. (Photo: © Fabrice Coffrini/Pool via Reuters)


> Genève est plus que jamais la capitale du multilatéralisme // 27.01.2022, RTS/GenèveVision

WHO delegates agree to tighten pandemic regulations, get reality check from civil society // 26.01.2022, Health Policy Watch

Das Vertrauen in die Wissenschaft ist kein Selbstläufer // 24.01.2022, NZZ
Die Pandemie neigt sich ihrem Ende zu. Mit ihr ist die Wissenschaft in die Mitte der Gesellschaft gerückt. Nun müssen wir lernen, verantwortungsvoll mit ihr umzugehen.

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, Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering, Science & 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

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