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

15 February - 01 March 2022

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg

SPECIAL FOCUS: Ukraine-Russia conflict impacts on Science & Diplomacy 

> How US sanctions will crimp Russia's tech sector // 24.02.2022, WIRED

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine leaves European space missions in doubt // 25.02.2022, New Scientist

Sanctions européennes : la Russie suspend les lancements depuis la base spaciale de Kourou // 26.02.2022, BFM

The United States is imposing new sanctions on Russia that will "degrade" its space program but will not affect cooperation on the International Space Station // 24.02.2022, Space News

Social networks face pressure to ban Russian state media // 28.02.2022, The Washington Post

Will Russia’s invasion of Ukraine trigger a massive cyberwar? // 23.02.2022, New Scientist
Russia, Ukraine and many of the latter's Western allies have the ability to launch cyberattacks on other nations, and both sides seem ready for digital skirmishes.

Related article: Activation of first capability developed under PESCO points to strength of cooperation in cyber defence // 24.02.2022, European Defense Agency

(© The Organization For World Peace)


> IPCC scientists warn climate change losses becoming 'difficult to avoid' // 28.02.2022, Reuters
A flagship report by 270 leading climate scientists warns loss and damage is already happening and is set to grow much worse.

Related report: IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Related article: Rising seas could submerge Rio and Jakarta by 2100 – what can we do? // 23.02.2022, New Scientist

(© IPCC - A Borrowed Planet - Inherited from our ancestors. On loan from our children. by Alisa Singer)


> World’s nations start to hammer out first global treaty on plastic pollution // 22.02.2022, Science
“Ambitious” efforts could set waste reduction targets, establish scientific advisory body.

Related article: Can the tide of plastic pollution be turned? // 25.02.2022, Thomson Reuters

(© The Thomson Reuters Foundation)


> What humans lose when we let AI decide // 07.02.2022, MIT Sloan Management Review
Why you should start worrying about artificial intelligence now.

Related articles:

(© Yarek Waszul/


> Genomics’ ethical gray areas are harming the developing world (opinion) // 24.02.2022, UNDARK
A recent controversy in the Philippines illustrates the pitfalls and pressure points of international genomics research.

Related article: Studies of human microbiome have ignored the developing world, potentially compromising treatments // 15.02.2022, Science
Without more samples from people in diverse locales, the full picture of microbes on and in our bodies will remain incomplete, scientists warn.

(DNA profile from a human sample.
© TEK Image/Science Photo Library via Getty Images)


Web3 – the latest Silicon Valley buzzword (podcast) // 08.02.2022, The Economist
This podcast investigates the hype and potential of the blockchain-based version of the internet.


> Microbes convert industrial waste gases into commodity chemicals // 21.02.2022, Science
Bacteria have been coaxed into producing useful compounds while slashing greenhouse-gas emissions. Clostridium autoethanogenum, which originally came from rabbit faeces, is already used to make ethanol by fermenting the waste gas of steel mills. Now, researchers have gene-edited the microbe to churn out acetone and isopropanol, which are used in paint remover and hand sanitizer. The process would produce less greenhouse gas emissions than current methods, which use fossil fuels – and would be carbon-negative, locking in more than a kilogram of carbon per kilogram of product, if the bacteria were fed steel-mill waste gas.

Related article: Carbon-negative production of acetone and isopropanol by gas fermentation at industrial pilot scale // 21.02.2022, Nature Biotechnology

(© Shi-You Ding/Michigan State University)


> The road to pleasure is paved with precision medicine // 24.02.2022, NEO.LIFE
An experimental drug that addresses anhedonia could increase the brain’s capacity to experience pleasure and herald a new era of precision medicine in psychiatry.

(© Nicolas Ortega)


> Gene-edited brain organoids are unlocking the secrets of autism // 21.02.2022, WIRED
Harvard researchers used lab-grown clumps of neurons called organoids to reveal how three genes linked to autism affect the timing of brain development.

(© Science Photo Library/Getty Images)


> 2022 ten breakthrough technologies // March 2022, MIT Technology Review
Every year, the reporters and editors at MIT Technology Review go through the painstaking process of compiling their list of 10 breakthrough technologies. These represent the technological advances that they think will have the biggest impact on the world in the years to come. They span everything from medicine to energy to digital technologies, but they’re unified by one thing: we think they will affect our lives in meaningful ways.

  • An individual’s genetic code affects how their body reacts to and metabolises specific food types.By aligning their nutritional intake in accordance with their genetics, for example, a person may reduce their risk of certain diseases, such as coronary heart disease.
  • At the moment, such strategies are only rarely based on genetic information. In fact, “personalised nutrition” is an umbrella term for multiple approaches, including nutritional genomics, precision nutrition and many more.
  • Nonetheless, it remains true that nutritional advice, products and services tailored to an individual can be more effective in promoting health, longevity and work (and, in particular, sporting) performance than generic, one-size-fits-all approaches to nutrition.


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics  

> Classical computers race to catch up with quantum advantage // 22.02.2022, Physics World

MIT’s quantum programming language enables taking a step towards advancement in quantum computing // 25.02.2022, Analytics Insight

Quantum gravity sensor opens window into world beneath our feet // 23.02.2022, Financial Times

Artificial intelligence and robots 

> China is about to regulate AI – and the world is watching // 22.02.2022, WIRED

Facebook is trying to advance AI to ‘human levels’ in order to build its metaverse // 23.02.2022, Business Insider

AI teaches brain tumor surgery better than human experts // 24.02.2022, Futurity

Covid has reset relations between people and robots // 26.02.2022, The Economist
Related article: Economists are revising their views on robots and jobs // 22.01.2022, The Economist

Meet the robots that can reproduce, learn and evolve all by themselves // 23.02.2022, New Scientist

(© Ruby Fresson)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> Systematic illumination of druggable genes in cancer genomes // 22.02.2022, Cell

With new trial data coming, Intellia CEO talks up the future of in vivo gene editing // 24.02.2022, STAT

Jennifer Doudna and Marty Chavez on where CRISPR meets Wall Street // 18.02.2022, STAT
Related articles:


> Scientists created artificial neurons that can make a Venus flytrap snap // 25.02.2022, Singularity Hub

Scientists take key step toward unraveling the genetic roots of ALS in a pair of studies // 23.02.2022, STAT

Longevity and health

> WHO works to spread COVID vaccine technology to more nations // 23.02.2022, ABC NEWS
The WHO is creating a global training center to help poorer countries make vaccines, antibodies and cancer treatments using the messenger RNA technology used to make COVID-19 vaccines.

BioNTech to ship modular mRNA vaccine facilities in containers to African countries to jump-start production // 16.02.2022, Health Policy Watch

Their bionic eyes are now obsolete and unsupported // 16.02.2022, IEEE Spectrum

The most complete digital replica of a living cell yet grows like the real thing // 27.02.2022, Singularity Hub

(© University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Purple 'superfood' tomato could finally go on sale in the US // 23.02.2022, New Scientist
A small company has applied for approval in the US to sell a genetically modified tomato that is rich in the beneficial pigments found in blueberries.

An electric jolt salvages valuable metals from waste // 09.02.2022, Science
New method can pull rare earth elements from electronic waste and coal ash.

Freefall flights test feasibility of making oxygen on the moon and Mars // 21.02.2022, Chemistry World


French nuclear regulator halts assembly of huge fusion reactor // 24.02.2022, Science

We’re going to need a lot more grid storage. New iron batteries could help // 23.02.2022, MIT Technology Review


> Are microbes the future of recycling? It’s complicated // 23.02.2022, UNDARK

‘Protein circuits’ move a step closer to cell-to-cell communication // 23.02.2022, ScienceBlog
Through synthetic biology, scientists can add novel functions to cells, such as the ability to produce new materials or detect and respond in specific ways to diseases.

To fight climate change, a biotech firm has genetically engineered a very peppy poplar // 23.02.2022, Science

Agroecology 'pioneer' makes the case for organic CRISPR crops // 21.02.2022, American Council on Science and Health


Chinese ‘space cleaner’ spotted grabbing and throwing away old satellite // 26.02.2022, The Indian Express

Virgin Galactic on schedule to start commercial human suborbital flights this year // 22.02.2022, SpaceNews

Climate and environment

> It might be time to take methane removal seriously // 17.02.2022, WIRED

(© Getty Images)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> United States fast tracks proposal to change WHO rules on international health emergency response // 23.02.2022, Health Policy Watch
In the wake of the chaotic, and often failed, global response to the COVID pandemic, the US is not waiting for an elaborate international treaty or convention on future pandemics, which will take years to negotiate. 

Blue Peace Days: Swiss water diplomacy at Expo 2020 Dubai and the World Water Forum in Dakar // 25.02.2022, FDFA

The power of water // 15.02.2022, Aeon
Far more potent than oil or gold, water is a stream of geopolitical force that runs deep, feeding crops and building nations.

Eric Lander resignation leads to controversial split of US presidential science adviser role // 22.02.2022, Physics World
Related article: Biden needs scientists with policy chops // 11.02.2022, Nature

The United States is joining with several allies on plans for greater cooperation to prevent conflicts in space // 22.02.2022, SpaceNews

Antarctique: l’Australie investit 575 millions pour contrer la Chine et la Russie // 22.02.2022, AFP/Le Matin

(© Olivier Dessibourg)

GESDA Platform: Knowledge Foundations

> Ancient DNA helps reveal social changes in Africa 50,000 years ago that shaped the human story // 24.02.2022, Singularity Hub

Scientists already plotting how James Webb could detect alien civilizations // 22.02.2022, The Byte


> Silicon Valley is coming for your chocolate // 23.02.2022, The Atlantic
One day, the cocoa in beloved treats might come from a petri dish.

‘Disruption’ is a two-way street // 20.02.2022, WIRED
There's a wave of innovation that we're failing to recognize—and it's being led by users and networks, not tech companies.

COVID-19: talk of ‘vaccine hesitancy’ lets governments off the hook // 22.02.2022, Nature
Go beyond the attitudes of individuals and focus more on what governments must do to build people’s trust and ensure easy access to vaccines for all.

How big technology systems are slowing innovation // 17.02.2022, MIT Technology Review
Related article: What should we do with the big technology companies? // 27.02.2022, The Wall Street Journal
On one side, there are those who call for more regulation. But others insist that would be a terrible mistake. Three experts debate the issue.

What's the most dangerous emerging technology? // 21.02.2022, Gizmodo
"What could go wrong? Soon we will be able to write any virus genome from scratch."

(© Benjamin Currie/Gizmodo)


> The WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan: Covid-19 vaccines, patent battles, and speeding up access in Africa // 22.02.2022, STAT
In response to growing concerns over vaccine inequity, the WHO last June announced plans to create a technology transfer and manufacturing hub for vaccines using mRNA technology, starting with Covid-19 shots. 
(© Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images)

> An interview with Philippe Roesle, new CEO at Swissnex in China // 28.02.2022, SwissNex
He was previously Acting Head of Bilateral Relations at the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI. (© SwissNex)

> This is the reason Demis Hassabis started DeepMind // 23.02.2022, MIT Technology Review
A year after it took biologists by surprise, AlphaFold has changed how researchers work and set DeepMind on a new course. (© DeepMind Technologies)

> Australia’s chief scientist begins quantum mission for her country // 23.02.2022, The Quantum Insider
Cathy Foley doesn’t want quantum to go the way of solar power in Australia, with relatively little return from a locally developed, globally transformative technology now present in $50 billion worth of panels worldwide. (Photo: DR)


> When scientific conferences went online, diversity and inclusion soared // 27.01.2022, Chemistry World

Millions of lives could be saved if health evidence and communication is put at forefront of pandemic preparedness // 16.02.2022, Cochrane
Drawing on experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural Cochrane Convenes brought together leaders in health research and health evidence to explore and recommend the changes needed in evidence synthesis to prepare for and respond to future global health emergencies. This report presents reflections and recommendations from seven roundtable meetings and incorporates points from discussions at the subsequent open plenary in October 2021.


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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