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

19 December 2020 - 07 January 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Predictions for 2021: welcome to the new uncertainty // 31.12.2021, NEO.LIFE
This could be a “hinge year” in history: the opportunity to grasp a new and improved future for ourselves, our children, and our planet – or not.

> The science stories likely to make headlines in 2021 // 31.12.2020, Science

2021 could be a banner year for AI - if we solve these 4 problems // 05.01.2021, Singularity Hub
With also this article in FORBES: AI Cambrian Explosion: 2021 predictions

The biotech 2021 preview, from M&A to gene therapy and more // 04.01.2021, STAT+

Where year two of the pandemic will take us // 29.12.2020, The Atlantic

The world after the coronavirus // 02.01.2021, Foreign Policy
FP asked 12 leading thinkers to predict what happens in 2021 and beyond.

The first pig-to-human organ transplants could happen this year // 05.01.2021, Future Human

2021 preview: A crucial year for action on climate change // 28.12.2020, New Scientist 

There will be lots of new space missions in 2021 // November 2020, The Economist
They will be driven by economic and security interests, not just by science.

Stand ready for the big five technology convulsions reshaping markets // 23.12.2020, Financial Times

Wikipedia's biggest challenge awaits in 2021 // 04.01.2021, WIRED

The best science books to read in 2021 // 30.12.2020, New Scientist

Here's what the world will look like in 2030... Right? // 01.01.2021, WIRED
These six visions from humans today span space colonies, a genetic panopticon, and straight-up apocalypse.

Willkommen in der Zukunft // 10.12.2020, Die Wochenzeitung
Fortschritt, aber nicht zum Guten: Das Denken in Dystopien ist inflationär geworden – weil unsere Zeit selbst dystopisch geworden ist?


> Prestigious AI meeting takes steps to improve ethics of research // 23.12.2020, Nature News
After a year of heavy scrutiny and seemingly endless controversy around artificial-intelligence (AI) technologies, the field’s most prestigious conference has tried to set a good example. For the first time, the Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) meeting, which took place completely online this month, required presenters to submit a statement on the broader impact their research could have on society, including any possible negative effects.

Additional good reads on ethics in AI:


> Wenn Forscher öffentlich streiten – stärkt oder unterminiert dies das Vertrauen in die Wissenschaft? // 03.01.2021, NZZ
Im Pandemiejahr ist die Wissenschaftsberichterstattung geradezu explodiert. Debatten über Rohdaten, früher in Expertenkreisen geführt, wurden öffentlich. Das hatte nicht nur positive Auswirkungen.


Science advisers around the world on 2020 // 18.12.2020, Nature
Seven government researchers who helped to guide their governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic speak out.


> ‘Incredible’ gene-editing result in mice inspires plans to treat premature-aging syndrome in children // 06.01.2021, Science
CRISPR base-editing technology has been used, at Harvard University by the team of David Liu (also GESDA’s Academic Expert), to more than double the lifespan of mice engineered to have the premature ageing disease progeria, also greatly improving their health.

Read also the New Scientist article.

Based on this Nature article: In vivo base editing rescues Hutchinson–Gilford progeria syndrome in mice.

Grand P (Moussa Sanguiana Kaba), an artist from Guinea, was born with progeria.
© Aboubacarkhoraa/Wikicommons


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> The light of the mind // January 2021, Physics World
Do quantum effects play a role in consciousness? Or are the two areas being linked simply because they are both difficult to understand? Betony Adams and Francesco Petruccione (also GESDA's Academic Expert) explore this developing, and contentious, field of quantum biophysics.

The world's first integrated quantum communication network // 06.01.2021, University of Science and Technology of China

Achieving the ultimate quantum timing resolution // 04.01.2021, PRX Quantum 
New technique achieves order-of-magnitude improvement over standard methods.

Stretching diamond for next-generation microelectronics // 31.12.2020, Science

Artificial intelligence

> Demis Hassabis interview: Our AI will unlock secrets of how life works // 30.12.2021, New Scientist

The autonomous-car chaos of the 2004 Darpa Grand Challenge // 06.01.2021, WIRED
The self-driving vehicles smashed, burned, flipped, and tipped. But the ambitious race through the Mojave launched an industry.

AI and the future of work (RESEARCH BRIEF) // December 2020, MIT

Wilson Center : bilan des travaux du Congrès américain et préfiguration de l’agenda politique autour de l’IA // 01.01.2021, Mission pour la Sci&Tech, Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis

U.S. law sets stage for boost to artificial intelligence research // 06.01.2021, Science

Light-based processors boost machine-learning processing // 06.01.2021, Nature - EPFL press release

© University of Oxford

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


30 years since the human genome project began, what’s next? // 30.12.2020, WIRED

With success in vaccines, scientists try to turn mRNA against autoimmune diseases // 07.01.2021, STAT

Scientists create ON-OFF switches to control CAR T cell activity // 06.01.2021, Science Translation Medicine

Detecting CRISPR/Cas gene doping // 06.01.2021, Analytical Chemistry

Genetic engineering without unwanted side effects helps fight parasites // 23.12.2020, University of Zurich press release

Longevity and health

Do we have to age? // 03.01.2021, The Guardian
The biologist Andrew Steele thinks ageing is a disease that can be treated. But if we had a cure for getting old, what would that mean for us?

2020 in neuroscience, longevity, and AI – and what’s to come // 22.12.2020, Singularity Hub

Turning microbiome research into a force for health // 05.01.2021, MIT News


> Here are the major advances in brain implants that happened in 2020 // 22.12.2020, Medium/Future Human
Scientists moved closer to linking the human brain to computers.

« Le cerveau des Chiliens ne sera ni hacké ni manipulé » : le Chili pionnier en « neurodroits » // 19.12.2020, Ouest-France

Artificial enzyme may be first step toward treatment for Parkinson's disease // 05.01.2021, Medical Xpress

Peeking inside 'mini-brains' could boost understanding of the human brain // 07.01.2021, Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering press release

Revealing details of the internal structure of 'mini-brains' could help accelerate drug studies and may offer alternatives to some animal testing. © Wyss Center for Bio and Neuroengineering, Geneva, and HEPIA

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> Impurities boost performance of organic solar cells // 05.01.2021, Kaust press release

Four ways microbial fuel cells might revolutionize electricity production in the future // 22.12.2020, The Conversation

Transforming carbon dioxide into jet fuel using an organic combustion-synthesized Fe-Mn-K catalyst // 22.12.2020, Nature communications


> Water or mineral? In Chile, a debate over lithium brine // 21.12.2020, Undark


Chinese scientists uncover gene for rice adaption to low soil nitrogen // 06.01.2021, Nature

Environment department scientist calls for biotechnology debate // 07.01.2021, The Guardian

Transgenic cotton and sterile insect releases synergize eradication of pink bollworm a century after it invaded the United States // 05.01.2021, PNAS


ISS Astronauts eat radishes grown in space for first time // 03.01.2021, Digital Trend

China gears up for space station, cargo and crewed mission launches // 07.01.2021, SpaceNews

Climate and environment

One Russian scientist hopes to slow the thawing of the Arctic // 19.12.2020, The Economist

Climate change is turning cities into ovens // 07.01.2021, WIRED
A new model estimates that by 2100, cities across the world could warm as much as 4.4 degrees Celsius. It’s a deadly consequence of the heat-island effect.

Marc Fontecave : « Pour sauver le climat, il existe d'autres voies que la décroissance » // 19.12.2020, Le Point

Nettoyer l’atmosphère de son CO2, est-ce bien réaliste? // 04.01.2021,

How we could make carbon-negative concrete // October 2020, TED

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

Coevolution of policy and science during the pandemic // 08.01.2021, Science

Genf soll weltweit über Gesundheitsdaten wachen // 19.12.2020, NZZ am Sonntag
Die Schweizer Stiftung Botnar legt in Genf den Grundstein für eine Organisation (I-DAIR), die global den Umgang mit Gesundheitsdaten regeln will. (NB: The I-DAIR was accompanied by GESDA)

Paving the way to cyber peace // 06.01.2021, Geneva Solutions

The pandemic taught us how not to deal with climate change // 01.01.2021, MIT Technology Review
We must transform the economy, not halt it, to prevent runaway warming. And we're doing it far, far too slowly today.

Global climate action needs trusted finance data // 06.01.2021, Nature

The end of the Wilsonian era: why liberal internationalism failed // January 2021, Foreign Affairs

How to make better economic policy choices (OPINION, by Mariana Mazzucato) // 21.12.2021, Project-Syndicate

> Japan’s top science advice group battles government over independence and identity // 07.01.2021, Science

EPA finalizes rule to limit science behind public health safeguards // 05.01.2021, The Washington Post
The Trump administration’s ‘transparency’ rule requires researchers to disclose their raw data. Opponents argue that the goal is to exclude important research on human health. “The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), along with the vast majority of scientific, higher education, medical and public health communities, strongly opposes the final rule because it severely undermines the use of science in making informed decisions”, said AAAS CEO Sudip Parikh in a statement.

The Witch Creek Fire burning in San Diego County, on the night of Sunday, October 21, 2007. © Flickr


> The WHO’s chief scientist on a year of loss and learning (COMMENT) // 24.12.2021, Nature

The U.S. failed to execute its cyberstrateg – and Russia pounced // January 2021, Foreign Affairs

Fini la grande stagnation, le progrès repart durablement (ANALYSE) // 20.12.2020, Le Temps
Tyler Cowen, l’auteur de «La Grande Stagnation», annonce le redémarrage de l'énorme machine du progrès. Enfin, le monde utilise pleinement les atouts d’internet et innove sur une grande échelle. 

‘A renewed approach to scientific culture’ in Europe (VIEWPOINT) // 04.01.2021, Science|Business
As Portugal takes the EU helm, science minister Manuel Heitor outlines how EU programmes can boost research careers, promote a greener, fairer Europe, and speed pandemic recovery through a renewed European Research Area.

Gérald Bronner : « L'arme du crime idéale : l'écran » // 30.12.2020, Le Point
Croyances, fake news, surinformation… Nous sommes les proies de nouveaux manipulateurs. Gérald Bronner analyse ce « tournant civilisationnel ».

A 25-year-old bet comes due: has tech destroyed society? // 05.01.2021, WIRED
In 1995, a WIRED cofounder challenged a Luddite-loving doomsayer to a prescient wager on tech and civilization’s fate. Now their judge weighs in.

New technologies demand new rituals // January 2021, NEO.LIFE

© Hoi Chan / NEO.LIFE


> Science and diplomacy key to inclusive development // 19.12.2020, Geneva Solutions
Ignazio Cassis, the head of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, has been one of the lead instigators of GESDA. He answered Geneva Solutions’ questions about science, diplomacy, and global governance issues shaping international Geneva. 
(© DR)

“Une change unique au monde” // 18.12.2020, Arcinfo
Joël Mesot, président de l’Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Zurich (et Co-Chair du Forum académique de GESDA), veut développer les coopérations, notamment avec l’EPFL, et évoque GESDA. (© Keystone)

Michael Moller: “On est devant des défis énormes” // 27.12.2020, RTS
Interview en direct de Michael Møller, Chair du Forum diplomatique de GESDA, sur le plateau du 19h30, de la Radio Télévision Suisse RTS. (© RTS)

«Nous manquons de recul sur la pandémie, mais pas sur le climat» // 04.01.2021,
L’Académie suisse des sciences naturelles (Scnat) s’exprime de plus en plus dans le débat public sur les sujets associés à la science et à l’environnement. Philippe Moreillon, son président depuis l’été 2020, revient sur ce rôle de conseil de la Scnat et sur les projets de l’Académie. (© DR)


> Science communication research: past patterns and future perspectives // 07.01.2021, Public Understanding of Science Blog
Based on the newly published report: Science Communication Research: an Empirical Field Analysis.

A new mandate highlights costs, benefits of making all scientific articles free to read // 01.01.2021, Science


> How Covid-19 has fueled unprecedented advances in medicine // by STATnews
The Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped the world of health and medicine. New vaccines are being developed at a pace once unimaginable. Telemedicine has replaced the doctor’s office for many. And artificial intelligence is predicting the patients at highest risk of growing severely ill. These unprecedented shifts were at the heart of the conversation at the 2020 STAT Summit. In this e-book, we pulled together all our coverage from this event, and our conversations with some of the greatest minds in science and medicine — including infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, and public health philanthropist Bill Gates.


> REUTERS NEXT // 11-14.01.2021
REUTERS NEXT is a new kind of event. Curated by Reuters global newsroom, their world-renowned journalists will interview a diverse range of global leaders and forward thinkers to ask the difficult questions as we start to reimagine solutions to the challenges the new year brings.
Join the discussions and hear from Sundar Pichai, CEO, Google and Alphabet; Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook; Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of World Wide Web and CTO, Inrupt; Christine Lagarde, President, European Central Bank; Joe Kaeser, President & CEO, Siemens AG; Brian Chesky, CEO, Airbnb; Michael Wirth, CEO, Chevron; Ursula von der Leyen, President, European Commission; Vera Daves de Sousa, Finance Minister, Angola; N Chandrasekaran, Chairman, Tata Group, and more.

Public consultation on ethical guidance for genomics, human enhancement, AI & robotics // 11-25.01.2021, organized by Sienna
SIENNA invites you to participate in a public consultation on our proposals! Between 11-25 January we invite you to a public consultation of a group of documents with concrete ethical guidance for human genetics and genomics, human enhancement, artificial intelligence and robotics!


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

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