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

05-12 October 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg
Next issue of the BestReads:
2 November 2021


Great success for the inaugural Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit // 07.10.2021, GESDA
The event organized by GESDA attracted more than 900 persons, onsite in Geneva at Campus Biotech, and online. A total of 109 speakers from 33 countries participated in 18 sessions largely based on the content of the  GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar® (See below). All sessions will be posted soon on Youtube. In the meantime, here is a selection of the press coverage worldwide and in Switzerland.

> Swiss-backed project aims to avert new ‘Cold War’ in science // 08.10.2021, Associated Press (AP)

> Biden Administration shows interest in Swiss project aimed at preventing 'New Cold War' // 08.10.2021, Newsweek

> Eröffnungsgipfel für "Wissenschaftsdiplomatie" in Genf // 08.10.2021, SRF Tagesschau

> Scienza e diplomazia a Ginevra, Letta: "La paura della globalizzazione ha dato vita al populismo, un errore non aver anticipato la crisi" // 08.10.2021, La Repubblica

> Прорыв в научной дипломатии (A breakthrough in science diplomacy) // 10.11.2021, Arguments and facts in Moldova

> Le Gesda, un pari scientifico-diplomatique pour redynamiser le multilatéralisme // 06.10.2021, Le Temps
Related editorial: Gesda, le saut qualitatif nécessaire pour la Genève internationale

> Diplomazia e scienza, connubio vincente per risolvere le sfide del mondo // 07.10.2021,
Related English version

> Peter Brabeck-Letmathe blickt in die Zukunft: «Die Maschine wird so denken wie der Mensch» // 10.10.2021,

> Alexandre Fasel, représentant spécial de la Confédération pour la diplomatie scientifique // 07.10.2021, RTS

> Fabiola Gianotti: “Why we need policies to regulate the use of science” // 08.10.2021,

> Guillaume Pictet: "La GESDA? Un moyen de booster le Genève international!" (PODCAST) // 08.10.2021, GenèveVision/RTS

Play the GESDA Summit closing plenary film


Discover the GESDA 2021 Science Breakthrough Radar // 07.10.2021, GESDA
The 2021 GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar provides an overview of science trends and breakthrough predictions at 5, 10 and 25 years in 24 science and technology areas, a synthesis of the related fundamental debates in society, and an exploration of opportunities for concerted action through initial contributions on the implications for international affairs, global challenges, and the SDGs.

> Neuer Kompass antizipiert künftige wissenschaftliche Durchbrüche // 07.10.2021, SDA

> Wissenschaftler prophezeien: So leben wir in 5, 10 und 25 Jahren // 10.10.2021,

> GESDA launches first global scientific radar to reinvent multilateralism // 07.10.2021, Geneva Solutions

> A radar of scientific challenges over 25 years unveiled in Geneva // 07.10.2021, News in 24

> Les défis scientifiques de demain dévoilés à Genève // 07.10.2021, Tribune de Genève


> University of Geneva makes foray into computational diplomacy // 07.10.2021, Geneva Solutions
The University of Geneva, together with the ETH Zurich, is launching new professorships next year in the up-and-coming field of computational diplomacy.  

> Related article: Genève ouvre un labo de diplomatie scientifique // 08.10.2021, Le Matin

> Related press releases:
A new lab for science in diplomacy in Geneva // 06.10.2021, University of Geneva
ETH Zurich and UNIGE establish an interdisciplinary unit dedicated to science in diplomacy in the heart of international Geneva. This joint lab will bring scientific insights and methods into diplomatic, international conflict resolution and help address the global challenges our societies are facing.

New programs launched to train anticipatory science diplomacy leaders // 08.10.2021, GESDA


> Americans need a bill of rights for an AI-powered world // 08.10.2021, WIRED
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy is developing principles to guard against powerful technologies—with input from the public. Op-Ed by Eric Lander, Director, and Alondra Nelson, Deputy Director (who attended as a distinguished speaker the 2021 Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit, by GESDA on 7 October 2021).

(Illustration: Sam Whitney; Getty Images)


> The Seven Continents-View on AI // 01.10.2021, SwissCognitive
There is clearly no one-size-fits-all when it comes to anything in life. That applies to the reasons for the development, adoption, and integration of cognitive technologies as well – be that across teams, organisations, industries, countries and even continents. With the help of experts, this event felt the “AI pulse” of each continent from the North until the South Pole and see how those feed into the global AI heartbeat. 


> Brain Initiative Cell Census Network // 06.10.2021, Nature
Four years ago, the NIH’s Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative Cell Census Network (BICCN) was launched, aiming to identify and catalog the diverse cells types in human, monkey and mouse brain. The first installment of this ambitious endeavor is now complete, with the comprehensive mapping of mammalian primary motor cortical cell type identities on a molecular level. This collection features the research, datasets, methods and tools generated by this project. The flagship paper provides a comprehensive overview of the accomplishments while a variety of companion papers reveal the specifics of the data, the development of the tools and the application of the analytical tools.

Related articles:

> A big step for neuroscience (EDITORIAL) // 06.10.2021, Nature

> How the world’s biggest brain maps could transform neuroscience // 06.10.2021, Nature

> Brain cell differences could be key to learning in humans and AI // 06.10.2021, Science Daily

(Illustration: Jasiek Krzysztofiak for Nature)


> The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA matters for social equality (PODCAST) // 09.10.2021, Skeptic Magazine
In recent years, scientists have shown that DNA makes us different, in our personalities and in our health — and in ways that matter for educational and economic success in our current society. Michael  Shermer speaks with University of Texas (Austin) professor of clinical psychology and Director of the Developmental Behavior Genetics Lab, Kathryn Paige Harden, about her book, The Genetic Lottery. Harden introduces us to the latest genetic science, dismantling dangerous ideas about racial superiority and challenging us to grapple with what equality really means in a world where people are born different. Weaving together personal stories with scientific evidence, Harden shows why our refusal to recognize the power of DNA perpetuates the myth of meritocracy, and argues that we must acknowledge the role of genetic luck if we are ever to create a fair society. Reclaiming genetic science from the legacy of eugenics, this groundbreaking book offers a bold new vision of society where everyone thrives, regardless of how one fares in the genetic lottery.


> 2021 State of Climate Services: Water // 05.10.2021, WMO
More than 2 billion people are living in countries under water stress and 3.6 billion people face inadequate access to water at least one month per year. Meanwhile, water-related hazards have increased in frequency for the past 20 years. Since 2000, flood-related disasters have increased by 134%, and the number and duration of droughts also increased by 29%. Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is vital to achieving long-term social, economic and environmental well-being. But, although most countries have advanced their level of IWRM implementation, 107 countries remain off track to hit the goal of sustainably managing their water resources by 2030 (UN SDG 6). This latest WMO report explores the progress made by WMO Members in using climate services to address water-related challenges – and highlights the gaps in user engagement, forecasting, observing networks, and data collection that still exist.


> Outlook on stem cells // 29.09.2021, Nature
Stem cells could be the key to regenerating all manner of tissues damaged by injury or disease. This long-held dream has often outpaced reality, but incremental advances are setting the field up to realize some of its enormous potential.

(Credit: Markos Kay)


> The imperative for sustainable AI systems // 18.09.2021, The Gradient
AI systems are compute-intensive: the AI lifecycle often requires long-running training jobs, hyperparameter searches, inference jobs, and other costly computations. They also require massive amounts of data that might be moved over the wire, and require specialized hardware to operate effectively, especially large-scale AI systems. All of these activities require electricity — which has a carbon cost. There are also carbon emissions in ancillary needs like hardware and datacenter cooling. Thus, AI systems have a massive carbon footprint. This carbon footprint also has consequences in terms of social justice.


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> L'informatique quantique, un enjeu d'avenir au sommet Gesda // 09.10.2021,

Tech milestones, SPACs & another $1bn pour into quantum in Q3 of 2021 // 08.10.2021, The Quantum Daily Quarterly report

Quantum computers untangle knotty polymer problem // 06.10.2021, Physics World

Artificial intelligence 

> Supersized AIs: Are truly intelligent machines just a matter of scale? // 06.10.2021, New Scientist

Ex-Google researcher Timnit Gebru: AI workers need whistleblower protection // 06.10.2021, MIT Management school
The Facebook whistleblower says its algorithms are dangerous. Here’s why.

Intel’s brain-inspired Loihi 2 chip can hold a million artificial neurons // 11.10.2021, Singularity Hub

Swiss researchers win robotics contest funded by US research agency DARPA // 07.10.2021, Armasuisse
Related article: See inside DARPA's incredible subterranean finals course: caves, tunnels, and urban underground all handmande by DARPA in secret // 05.10.2021, IEEE Spectrum

VIDEO: One of the 18 topics of the GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar.

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> The most common Alzheimer’s risk gene may also protect against memory loss // 07.10.2021, Science

War in the gut: How human microbiota resist the cholera bacterium // 06.10.2021, EPFL


> An ultra detailed map of the brain region that controls movement, from mice to monkeys to humans // 06.10.2021, Allen Institute for Brain Science

A custom brain implant lifted a woman’s severe depression // 04.10.2021, Science News

Repressed memories: The dangerous idea we can’t seem to forget // 06.10.2021, New Scientist

Le chercheur qui reconstruit les circuits du cerveau humain vivant // 11.10.2021,

Les droits humains au défi de l’être augmenté // 06.10.2021, Le Temps

Prototype brain interface can deliver drugs to stimulation site // 04.10.2021, Technology Networks

Brain cell differences could be key to learning in humans and AI // 06.10.2021, Science Daily

Longevity and health

‘Naively ambitious’: How COVAX failed on its promise to vaccinate the world // 08.10.2021, STAT
Round the world this spring, country after country awaited their first Covid-19 vaccine shipments. They’d been promised deliveries by COVAX, the ambitious global collaboration set up to give people in rich and poor nations equitable access to the shots, but now, the vaccines were failing to arrive. In many cases, COVAX officials wouldn’t even answer the phone or respond to emails from top diplomats when asked what was happening.

Related article: Moderna plans a vaccine plant in Africa, but critics say the move isn’t enough to ensure access // 07.10.2021, STAT

A cryptography game-changer for biomedical research at scale // 11.10.2021, EPFL

Moonshot project aims to understand and beat cancer using protein maps // 05.10.2021, Singularity Hub

The malaria vaccine could be a game-changer for global development // 06.10.2021, AXIOS

AI-generated ‘digital twins’ help head off silently approaching sickness // 06.10.2021, AI in Healthcare

Les avatars peuvent-ils remplacer notre corps ? // 07.10.2021, The Conversation

© Shutterstock

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


EU energy chief says gas price surge has no quick fixes // 07.10.2021, Financial Times

Rare metal, precious adhesion // 08.10.2021, Science

This asteroid may be the shard of a dead protoplanet – and have more metal than all the reserves on Earth // 10.10.2021, Singularity Hub

The race to grab all the UK’s lithium before it’s too late // 05.10.2021, WIRED

> ‘Antithetical to science’: When deep-sea research meets mining interests // 04.10.2021, Mongabay


UK National Grid in talks to build an energy island in the North Sea // 08.10.2021, New Scientist

China is building an artificial star to solve our environmental crisis // 08.10.2021, OneZero


> How cloning – yes, cloning – is helping scientists save endangered species // August 2021, TED

A French company is using enzymes to recycle one of the most common single-use plastics // 06.10.2021, MIT Technology Review


> Satellite swarms are threatening the night sky – and creating a new zone of environmental conflict // 07.10.2021, Science

> Nouveau défi dans l'espace: dévier un astéroïde (PODCAST) // 08.10.2021, GenèveVision/RTS

Climate and environment

> NASA releases climate action plan // 07.10.2021, NASA
NASA released a climate action plan aimed at averting mission impacts due to climate change, ensuring the resiliency of facilities and assets, and providing the nation and world unique climate observations, analysis, and modeling through scientific research.

At least 85 percent of the world’s population has been affected by human-induced climate change, new study shows // 11.10.2021, Washington Post

Teaching machines to anticipate catastrophes // 05.10.2021, PNAS

High level review of a wide range of proposed marine geoengineering techniques // October 2021, GESAMP

Biodiversity summit offers China a chance to burnish its environmental credentials // 08.10.2021, Science
The Chinese government is likely to endorse very ambitious conservation targets at meeting that opens next week in Kunming.
Related article: A Decade for restoring Earth // 08.10.2021, Science

© Staffan Widstrand / Wild Wonders of China / Minden Pictures

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> La Suisse devrait adhérer à l'observatoire international SKAO // 30.09.2021,
La Suisse devrait adhérer d'ici 2030 à l'observatoire international SKAO. Le National a unanimement donné son feu vert jeudi pour augmenter de 24,7 millions le crédit d'engagement déjà autorisé de 8,9 millions de francs.

Swiss clear first barrier to Horizon Europe association – but more remain // 05.10.2021, Science|Business

US-EU agreement on artificial intelligence seen as a swipe at China – but little else for now // 05.10.2021, Science|Business

UN World Data Forum in Bern mobilised experts to offer solutions for the 2030 Agenda // 06.10.2021,


> Microbes, natural intelligence and artificial intelligence (OP-ED by Avi Loeb) // 02.10.2021, Scientific American
Humanity’s greatest achievement might be building our successors.

Enki Bilal on the frightening speed of the digital revolution and finding meaning in humanism // 07.10.2021, Lithub

© Hannah Assouline


> Merck’s covid pill faces risk that virus could outsmart it // 08.10.2021, Bloomberg
In depth article with insights from Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of the Wellcome Trust, and Board member of GESDA. (Photo: DR)

> Enrico Letta: «Le Gesda est une immense opportunité pour Genève» // 10.10.2021, Le Temps
Ancien premier ministre italien, Enrico Letta était à Genève pour le Sommet global du GESDA. Secrétaire national du Parti démocrate italien, il a réussi à faire revenir en grâce sa formation politique. (© Niccolo Caranti)

> How SDGs became the common language for understanding impact investing // 07.10.2021, Geneva Solutions
Interview with David Grimaud, head of asset management at impact investment firm Symbiotics. (© Symbiotics)

> Eric Schmidt to helm national artificial intelligence/emerging technologies project // 05.10.2021, Defense Daily
He is launching the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP), a national initiative to recommend ways to strengthen U.S. capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies. (© Wikimedia/JD Lasica)
Related article: Eric Schmidt is funding ‘super evolution’ // 08.10.2021, WIRED


> A teenager on TikTok disrupted thousands of scientific studies with a single video // 24.09.2021, The Verge
Researchers were caught by surprise after a short video sent a flood of new users to a survey platform.

FLI launches fellowships in AI existential safety // September 2021, Future of Life Institute
Emerging technologies have the potential to help life flourish like never before – or self-destruct. The Future of Life Institute (FLI) is delighted to announce a $25M multi-year grant program aimed at tipping the balance toward flourishing, away from extinction. This is made possible by the generosity of cryptocurrency pioneer Vitalik Buterin and the Shiba Inu community. COVID-19 showed that our civilization is fragile, and can handle risk better when planning ahead. FLI’s grants are for those who have taken these lessons to heart, wish to study the risks from ever more powerful technologies, and develop strategies for reducing them. The goal is to help humanity win the wisdom race: the race between the growing power of our technology and the wisdom with which we manage it.
FLI is excited to offer a range of grant opportunities within the areas of AI Existential Safety, Policy/Advocacy and Behavioral Science. FLI’s AI Existential Safety Program is launching first. Applications for PhD and Postdoctoral Fellowships are being accepted in the fall of 2021. FLI is working to build a global community of AI Safety researchers who are keen to ensure that AI remains safe and beneficial to humanity.


> Reboot AI with human values // 05.10.2021, Nature
Helga Nowotny, a former head of the European Research Council, urges critical thinking about the algorithms that shape our lives and societies.


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:
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