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

09-23 November 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> The world ahead 2022: what next? 22 emerging technologies to watch in 2022 // 08.11.2021, The Economist
The astonishingly rapid development and rollout of coronavirus vaccines has been a reminder of the power of science and technology to change the world. As the saying goes in the technology industry, it takes years to create an overnight success. So what else might be about to burst into prominence? Here are 22 emerging technologies worth watching in 2022.

(© Alvaro Bernis)


> Special Report: Future of AI and Digital Healthcare // 09.11.2021, The Financial Times
In this joint commission from The Lancet and Financial Times on Governing Health Futures 2030, this report explores how AI and other digital advancements are being harnessed to improve healthcare in the world’s poorest regions.

(© Getty Images)


> L’espace, nouvel horizon de compétition et de conflit // 16.11.2021, Le Figaro
Tir antimissile depuis le sol pour détruire un satellite, arme à énergie dirigée pour l’aveugler ou le neutraliser, manœuvre d’approche pour l’espionner, système de brouillage pour couper les signaux… Les armes de la guerre spatiale sont encore en phase de test et d’élaboration. Mais la course pour la maîtrise de l’espace exoatmosphérique (au-delà de 100 km d’altitude) fait rage entre puissances. La supériorité opérationnelle se joue aussi à des centaines de kilomètres au-dessus du sol.

Related articles:

(© 277869994/jim -


> CRISPR and the climate: how gene editing can help cut emissions // 17.11.2021, Foreign Affairs
In order to make agriculture more environmentally friendly, many states are trying to encourage organic farming. But improving agriculture to address the twin challenges of climate change and deforestation will require every tool available. That means “natural” solutions alone will not be enough. Instead, states will need to embrace modern science, including CRISPR technology.

(© Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)


> Learn from machine learning: our world is a black box, predictable but not understandable // 15.11.2021, Aeon
Our latest paradigmatic technology, machine learning, may be revealing the everyday world as more accidental than rule-governed. If so, it will be because machine learning gains its epistemological power from its freedom from the sort of generalisations that we humans can understand or apply. The opacity of machine learning systems raises serious concerns about their trustworthiness and their tendency towards bias. But the brute fact that they work could be bringing us to a new understanding and experience of what the world is and our role in it.

Related articles:

  • The long search for a computer that speaks your mind // 09.11.2021, WIRED
    The trick is to use data from the brain to synthesize speech in real time so users can practice and the machine can learn. New brain computer interface systems are getting there.
  • Can a machine learn morality? // 19.11.2021, The New York Times
    Researchers at a Seattle AI lab say they have built a system that makes ethical judgments. But its judgments can be as confusing as those of humans.
(Disused apron at Alameda Naval Air Station in California.
© Jane Tyska/East Bay Times/Getty)


> Africa’s rising cities: how Africa will become the center of the world’s urban future // 19.11.2021, The Washington Post
Growing at unprecedented rates, and shaped by forces both familiar and new, dozens of African cities will join the ranks of humanity’s biggest megalopolises between now and 2100. Several recent studies project that by the end of this century, Africa will be the only continent experiencing population growth. Thirteen of the world’s 20 biggest urban areas will be in Africa — up from just two today — as will more than a third of the world’s population.

(© DR)


> The chase for fusion energy // 17.11.2021, Nature
“An emerging industry of nuclear-fusion firms promises to have commercial reactors ready in the next decade. In this respect, advocates of fusion technology say it has many parallels with the space industry. That, too, was once confined to government agencies but is now benefiting from the drive and imagination of nimble (albeit often state-assisted) private enterprise. This is ‘the SpaceX moment for fusion,’ says [General Fusion CEO] Mowry, referring to Elon Musk’s space-flight company in Hawthorne, California.”

Related articles:

(Artist’s impression of General Fusion’s planned plant at Culham, UK.
© AL_A for General Fusion.)


> Why are we failing at the ethics of AI? // 10.11.2021, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Anja Kaspersen and Wendell Wallach direct the Carnegie Artificial Intelligence and Equality Initiative (AIEI), which seeks to understand the innumerable ways in which AI impacts equality, and in response, propose potential mechanisms to ensure the benefits of AI for all people

Related article:


> Inside your dreamscape // 19.11.2021, Aeon
Dream-hacking techniques can help us create, heal and have fun. They could also become tools of commercial manipulation.

(Not-so-private world. © Chris Stowers/Panos)


> What do neurons and snowflakes have to teach us about AI? // 18.11.2021, NEO.LIFE
The fact that no two are alike could be the key to designing AIs that can adapt to change.

(© Wilson Bentley / NOAA; Santiago Ramón y Cajal)
  • Artificial intelligence algorithms have become ubiquitous in modern life thanks to successes in machine learning research.
  • However, they have very limited flexibility, operating within narrowly defined parameters and unable to transfer knowledge across domains.
  • They also require vast amounts of training data and enormous computational resources.
  • But there are reasons to believe that they can be made more flexible in the foreseeable future.



Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> One Boston startup says it’s made a quantum leap in computing // 17.11 2021, Boston Globe
Related press release from QuEra

How quantum computers will correct their errors // 16.11.2021, Quanta Magazine

IBM creates largest ever superconducting quantum computer // 15.11.2021, New Scientist

IBM’s quantum computer tasked with tackling cancer research in Europe // 12.11.2021, The Quantum Daily

Artificial intelligence 

> Your boss wants to spy on your inner feelings // December 2021, Scientific American
Tech companies now use AI to analyze your feelings in job interviews and public spaces. But the software seems prone to racial, cultural and gender bias.

Kai-Fu Lee and Yoky Matsuoka imagine AI's potential for good // 09.11.2021, WIRED
The investor and entrepreneur discuss "human-in-the-loop" technology, and how artificial intelligence might be used for health and caregiving.

Americans are confused about AI // 17.11.2021, Axios

AI can now model the molecular machines that govern all life // 16.11.2021, Singularity Hub

Artificial intelligence industry in Switzerland landscape overview 2021 Q4 // November 2021, Deep Knowledge Analytics
Switzerland is home to many leading AI research institutes spread out over a manageable geographical area. This closely-knit network and a pragmatic collaboration between key research institutes and strong industrial players results in the highly efficient transfer of technology, which brings innovative products to the market quickly. Artificial Intelligence is a main component of the Swiss digitalisation process. The study is compassed based on the analysis of the AI of such aspects as the interaction and involvement of the Swiss government in Artificial Intelligence, the digital solutions implemented in the fight against the consequences of COVID-19, the usage and influence of the AI in various business sectors, the main trends and predictions of the AI field in Switzerland.

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> 200,000 whole genomes made available for biomedical studies by U.K. effort // 18.11.2021, Science
UK Biobank offers easy access to genomic database for researchers around the world.

Sequencing whole genomes helps diagnose far more rare diseases, study shows // 10.11.2021, STAT

«Nous voyons plus loin que le Covid et comptons bien combattre le cancer et le VIH avec l'ARN» // 12.11.2021, Le Figaro
Le livre des cofondateurs de BioNTech et créateurs du vaccin Pfizer intitulé The Vaccine: Inside the Race to Conquer the COVID-19 Pandemic*, vient de sortir. Uğur Şahin et Özlem Türeci l'assurent: «La version anti-cancer du vaccin sera prête d'ici 5 ans.»


Why are we conscious? The answer lies in other animals’ heads // 17.11.2021, New Scientist

Study finds a striking difference between neurons of humans and other mammals // 10.11.2021, MIT News

From brain to screen: a scientist is ready to directly turn what you think into words // 09.11.2021, South China Morning Post

> Next generation of deep brain stimulation aims to tackle depression // 22.11.2021, Science

A digital reconstruction of the brain's power source // 15.11.2021, EPFL press release

What are the ethics of an implant that delivers pleasure directly into your brain? // 17.11.2021, Neoscope

Longevity and health

> AI cracks the code of protein complexes – providing a road map for new drug targets // 11.11.2021, Science

Primate organoids and gene-editing technologies toward next-generation biomedical research // December 2021, Trends in Biotechnology

Pour vivre longtemps, ne comptons pas sur un régime // 18.11.2021, Le Temps
Related article: Antiaging diets: separating fact from fiction // 19.11.2021, Science

Glowing worms could shed light on the secrets of regeneration // 13.11.2021, WIRED

Shape-shifting microrobots deliver drugs to cancer cells // 17.11.2021, Industrial Equipment News

Scientists at ETHZ build tiny robot that could deliver drugs with amazing accuracy // 09.11.2021, c/net

(© Cornel Dillinger/ETH Zurich)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Will a scramble to mine metals undermine the clean energy revolution? // 10.11.2021, New Scientist

Getting the big picture of biodiversity // 18.11.2021, Science 
Satellites and other remote sensing tools offer new ways to study ecosystems - and maybe save them.

The Moon’s top layer alone has enough oxygen to sustain 8 billion people for 100,000 years // 10.11.2021, The Conversation

A clean ocean by 2030: UN experts panel charts most direct course // 18.11.2021, Eurasia Review


Bill Gates-backed experimental nuclear power plant heads to tiny Wyoming city // 17.11.2021, The Guardian

Harnessing the energy of the ocean to power homes, planes and whisky distilleries // 09.11.2021, The Washington Post


Antarctic bacteria live on air and make their own water using hydrogen as fuel // 15.11.2021, The Conversation

Gene drive: a faster route to plant improvement // December 2021, Trends in plant sciences

An E. coli biocomputer solves a maze by sharing the work // 09.11.2021, MIT Technology Review

Flexible fungal materials: shaping the future // December 2021, Trends in Biotechnology


New mission to scour our interstellar neighbourhood for planets that could sustain life // 16.11.2021, The Guardian

Astronomers elaborate on options to reduce impact of satellite megaconstellations // 12.11.2021. American Institute of Physics

Sierra Space raises $1.4 billion funds for commercial space station, space plane // 19.11.2021, Republic World

A solar-powered rocket might be our ticket to interstellar space // 20.11.2021, WIRED

Decolonising the cosmos // 12.11.2021, Aeon
Instead of treating Mars and the Moon as sites of conquest and settlement, we need a radical new ethics of space exploration.

Climate and environment

How climate change may shape the world in the centuries to come // 24.11.2021, Global Change Biology

Over three-quarters of the world’s vital carbon stores are unprotected // 18.11.2021, New Scientist

Global trends in the invention and diffusion of climate change mitigation technologies // 18.11.2021, Nature Energy

Nvidia’s new supercomputer will create a ‘digital twin’ of Earth to fight climate change // 17.11.2021, Singularity Hub

Scientists say we need to look into solar geoengineering now – before it’s too late // 15.11.2021, Singularity Hub
Related editorial: Geoengineering: symmetric precaution // 11.11.2021, Science

(© Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> A l’Université de Lausanne, un jeu de rôle pour améliorer le dialogue politico-scientifique // 12.11.2021, Le Temps

The real danger of a biological Cold War with China // 11.11.2021, NEO.LIFE
Can we thwart Beijing’s drive for U.S. secrets without stifling science or harming American innovation?

World must agree pandemic treaty and strengthen WHO, experts warn // 22.11.2021, GenevaSolutions

The computational challenge of social learning // December 2021, Trends in Cognitive Sciences

Follow the money: how reforming tax and trade rules can fight climate change // 12.11.2021, Foreign Affairs

COP26 could never be a true success without delivering climate justice // 17.11.2021, New Scientist

Startups should have a voice in the climate conversation // 16.11.2021, Fortune

Call for research and innovation to be included in Conference for the Future of Europe // 18.11.2021, Science|Business

(© DR)


> Young people more optimistic about the world than older generations, according to Unicef // 18.11.2021, The Guardian
Despite mental health and climate concerns, youth believe they can improve the world, survey for World Children’s Day finds.

Africa can attain research excellence // 05.11.2021, The Citizen

Global Science Journalism Report 2021 // 21.10.2021, SciDev.Net
It aims to investigate the working conditions and practices, professional ethos and future expectations of science journalists around the globe. It includes a section specifically target to the perceptions of science journalists about their work during the pandemic of Covid-19.

How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation // 20.11.2021, MIT Technology Review

How an upgrade on calculus is taking maths into uncharted territory // 10.11.2021, New Scientist
A rapidly evolving field of mathematics called fractional calculus can reveal the finest details of physical processes, allowing engineers to improve everything from anaesthesia to batteries.

(© Chris Malbon)


La Suisse et les États-Unis renforcent leur coopération en matière d’encouragement de la recherche // 19.11.2021,
Le président du Fonds national suisse, Matthias Egger, et le président de la National Science Foundation américaine, Sethuraman Panchanathan, ont signé une déclaration d’intention, posant les bases d’une collaboration à long terme dans le domaine de l’encouragement de la recherche. (© Unibe)

> «Le risque d’exode des cerveaux est plus élevé qu’avant» // 14.11.2021, Le Temps
Après que la Suisse a été reléguée au statut d’Etat tiers dans le programme Horizon Europe, les deux patrons de la recherche suisse Yves Flückiger, président de Swissuniversities (à gauche) et Michael Hengartner, président du Conseil des EPF, discernent déjà de premiers signes inquiétants de perte d’attractivité de la place académique suisse. (© Pierre Albouy)

> Forward thinking science diplomacy – Switzerland leads the way // 01.11.2021, Canadian Science Policy Centre
Opinion piece by Urs Obrist, Senior Science and Technology Counsellor, Embassy of Switzerland in Canada. (Photo: DR)

> Sie macht aus Science-Fiction Realität // 17.11.2021, Die Weltwoche
Martin Vetterli, Präsident der ETH Lausanne (EPFL), ist überzeugt, dass Jamie Paik, Professorin für Maschinenbau, die Roboterforschung revolutionieren wird. (© Gerry Nitsch)

> « L’arbitrage international est un outil essentiel pour l’accès à l’État de droit » // 19.11.2021, Le Point
Claudia Salomon, présidente de la Cour internationale d’arbitrage, défend un outil privilégié de résolution des litiges transfrontaliers entre entreprises. (© Xavier Granet)

> “We need a smart innovation policy” // 16.11.2021, ETH Zurich
How can we decarbonise our economy by 2050? ETHZ Professor Tobias Schmidt argues that the answer lies in a radical technological transformation. He describes his journey from engineer to policy researcher – and his determination to build bridges between science and policy. (© Dominik Hodel / ETH Zurich)

> Le conseiller fédéral Ignazio Cassis plaide pour un multilatéralisme efficace à la tribune de l’UNESCO // 12.11.2021,
Le conseiller fédéral Ignazio Cassis a pris part à Paris à la 41ème Conférence générale de l’UNESCO. A cette occasion, il a apporté son soutien à la nouvelle stratégie 2022-2029 de l’Organisation onusienne ainsi qu’à l’adoption d’une Recommandation sur l’éthique de l’intelligence artificielle. Son discours est à lire ici. (Photo: DR)


> Youth Activists Summit 2021: Genève capitale des jeunes activistes // 17.11.2021, Genève Vision / RTS


> Henry Kissinger and Eric Schmidt take on AI // 20.11.2021, The Economist
The statesman and Google’s former boss issue a salutary warning about the future.


> What is artificial intelligence good for? Panel discussion addresses the promises, opportunities and challenges // 25.11.2021, 8am CET, organized by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina and the Korean Academy of Science and Technology

(© knssr / AdobeStock)

> Governing health futures: decision makers' views // 26.11.2021, 3pm CET, organized by the Graduate Institute
Join for an online panel discussion with leading business experts and policymakers followed by a Q&A session on the Lancet and Financial Times Commission on governing health futures 2030. The Commission will share views on digital health recommendations, and highlight current gaps in the field.

Exploring future trends together // 03.12.2021, 4:15pm CET, Uni Mail, Bd du Pont-d'Arve 40, Salle M R060, 1204 Geneva, organized by SDI and GESDA
New technologies evolve quickly and raise new questions for policymakers but also promise lots of new opportunities for us as individuals. Where could the journey go and what do different scenarios mean for the governance of technologies? Join us as we explore these questions through expert presentations by GESDA and representatives from WIPO. The Swiss Digital Initiative will afterwards moderate a panel discussion so join us to raise your questions about our digital future.

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:
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