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

11-18 June 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg

www.gesda.global

FOCUS 1

> UNESCO report highlights need for greater investment, diversity in science // 11.06.2021, UN News
The latest edition of its Science Report, of which Peter Gluckman (President of the ISC and member of GESDA Diplomacy Forum) is member of the Editorial Board, further reveals that there is still a long way to go before science fully contributes to the goal of achieving a more sustainable future for all people and the planet. “Better-endowed science is indispensable. Science must become less unequal, more cooperative and more open. Today’s challenges such as climate change, biodiversity loss, decline of ocean health and pandemics are all global. This is why we must mobilize scientists and researchers from all over the world,” said Audrey Azoulay, the UNESCO Director-General. 

Download the Report.

FOCUS 2

> Experts doubt ethical AI design will be broadly adopted as the norm within the next decade // 16.06.2021, Pew Research Center
A majority worries that the evolution of artificial intelligence by 2030 will continue to be primarily focused on optimizing profits and social control. They also cite the difficulty of achieving consensus about ethics. Many who expect progress say it is not likely within the next decade. Still, a portion celebrate coming AI breakthroughs that will improve life.

(© DR)

FOCUS 3

> The human in the machine: a call for a World Institute of AI // 11.06.2021, Tortoise Media
At the Responsible AI Forum, Demis Hassabis, CEO of Google DeepMind, mooted the idea of a world institute of AI with “real powers to set guidelines”, bolstered by a “cutting edge” research division. Hassabis suggested that the institute could come under the jurisdiction of a government body such as the UN and could house some of the best researchers in the world. Although geo-political differences were a major barrier to its creation, Hassabis described how the institute could consider AI problems like values, fairness and bias and lay down guidelines for appropriate use. Jack Clark, co-founder of Anthropic, an AI safety company, also had ideas on how to increase responsibility. “Treat the deployment of technology as an ecological event,” he said. “In the same way as [governments] measure and assess weather and provide public data… we need governments to be able to assess and monitor technological deployments as they are happening.”

Related report: In Defence of Democracy and the Rule of Law in the Age of Artificial Intelligence // 13.06.2021, Boston Global Forum
Advanced software and cyber-physical systems, so called ‘Artificial Intelligence’ (AI) systems, and data driven business models increasingly govern portions of our lives: they influence how we work, love, buy, sell, communicate, meet, and navigate. They impact individual rights, social interactions, the economy, and politics. They pose new risks to national security, democratic institutions, individual dignity and human wellbeing.

(© DR)

FOCUS 4

> Can industry decarbonize steelmaking? // 13.06.2021, Chemical&Engineering News
Major steelmakers and disruptive start-ups look to hydrogen and renewable electricity to make green steel. If the steel industry were a country, its carbon dioxide emissions would rank third in the world, below the US and above India. Aside from churning out 1.86 billion metric tons (t) of steel last year, steelmakers generated over 3 billion tons of CO2, corresponding to an astonishing 7–9% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, according to the World Steel Association. No other industrial material has a greater climate impact.

FOCUS 5

> The deep sea is filled with treasure, but it comes at a price // 14.06.2021, The New Yorker
We’ve barely explored the darkest realm of the ocean. With the rare-metal mining on the rise, we’re already destroying it.

Related articles:
> Stealthy tracking of deep ocean organisms with Mesobot // 16.06.2021, Science Robotics
> ‘We’re causing our own misery’: oceanographer Sylvia Earle on the need for sea conservation // 12.06.2021, The Guardian

(© Nautilus Minerals)

FOCUS 6

> Is it time to give up on consciousness as ‘the ghost in the machine’? // 03.06.2021, The Conversation
As individuals, we feel that we know what consciousness is because we experience it daily. It’s that intimate sense of personal awareness we carry around with us, and the accompanying feeling of ownership and control over our thoughts, emotions and memories. But science has not yet reached a consensus on the nature of consciousness – which has important implications for our belief in free will and our approach to the study of the human mind. Beliefs about consciousness can be roughly divided into two camps. There are those who believe consciousness is like a ghost in the machinery of our brains, meriting special attention and study in its own right. And there are those, like us, who challenge this, pointing out that what we call consciousness is just another output generated backstage by our efficient neural machinery.

(© ImagesRouges/Shutterstock)

FOCUS 7

> Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin summit in Geneva: Here's why Switzerland is the ideal host for diplomacy // 16.06.2021, World Economic Forum

(© Romano1246)

GOOD READS ABOUT GESDA'S PLATFORMS THEMES

Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics

> Accelerating quantum start-ups, meet the CEO of D-Wave Systems (podcast) // 17.06.2021, PhysicsWorld 

Scientists just recorded a brain signal using quantum technology // 14.06.2021, Interesting Engineering

Entangled quantum memories bring researchers a step closer to the quantum internet // 08.06.2021, The Quantum Daily

Une nouvelle révolution quantique: avec quelles conséquences? // 09.06.2021, Conseil suisse de la science

What makes quantum computing so hard to explain? // 13.06.2021, WIRED
Before we can even begin to talk about these computers' potential applications, we need to understand the fundamental physics behind them.


Artificial intelligence 

> OpenAI claims to have mitigated bias and toxicity in GPT-3 // 10.06.2021, Venture Beat

Lethal autonomous weapons exist; they must be banned // 16.06.2021, IEEE Spectrum
It may not be too late to put the evil "Slaughterbots" genie back in the bottle, if the world acts now.

The rise of intelligent matter // 16.06.2021, Nature

Inside the fight to reclaim AI from Big Tech’s control // 14.06.2021, MIT Technology Review
For years, Big Tech has set the global AI research agenda. Now, groups like Black in AI and Queer in AI are upending the field’s power dynamics to build AI that serves people.

(© RICARDO SANTOS)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation

Genomics

> Forensic database challenged over ethics of DNA holdings // 15.06.2021, Nature

Scientists CRISPR patients’ own immune cells in bid to shrink hard-to-treat GI tumors // 15.06.2021, STAT

A CRISPR treatment for blood diseases shows curative promise in small study // 11.06.2021, STAT

Genome researchers question security provisions in new U.S. Senate bill // 14.06.2021, Science


Longevity and health

L’âge doit-il être traité comme une maladie? // 03.06.2021, Horizons
Et si le vieillissement était en fait une maladie? Derrière la question du regard sur l’âge se cachent aussi des souhaits contradictoires: vivre éternellement ou valoriser davantage la vieillesse comme un processus porteur de sens.

United Nations High-Level Meeting on AIDS draws to a close with a strong political declaration and bold new targets to be met by 2025 // 14.06.2021, UNAIDS

Tailored optical stimulation for the blind // 17.06.2021, EPFL


Neurosciences 

> Des scientifiques militent pour des "neuro-droits" protégeant notre cerveau contre des manipulations technologiques // 14.06.2021, Clubic

A $50,000 helmet can read user's mind. And it's ready // 17.06.2021, NDTV

Navigating a virtual world helped older adults’ memory // 01.06.2021, Scientific American

A new way to understand the brain's intricate rhythm // 11.06.2021, WIRED

Neuroscientists have discovered a phenomenon that they can’t explain // 09.06.2021, The Atlantic

(© Adam Maida / The Atlantic / Shutterstock)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


Resources

> Massive blue hydrogen investment planned in North America // 11.06.2021, Chemical&Engineering News

A framework for examining justice in food system transformations research // 10.06.2021, Nature Food


Energy

World's most powerful magnet being shipped to ITER fusion reactor // 15.06.2021, New Scientist

Bezos-backed fusion startup picks U.K. to build first plant // 16.06.2021, Bloomberg Green

A firm founded by Bill Gates bets on a novel nuclear reactor // 12.06.2021, The Economist


Biotechnologies

> Raw emotion grows in UK debate over gene-edited crops // 17.06.2021, NEO.LIFE


Space

> G7 call on other nations to protect space // 15.06.2021, SpaceWatch.global

Mouse sperm thrived despite six years of exposure to space radiation // 11.06.2021, ScienceNews

China, Russia reveal roadmap for international moon base // 16.06.2021, SpaceNews

Pour l’Europe spatiale, 2035 se prépare dès maintenant // 15.06.2021, Le Temps


Climate and environment

> Il y a surchauffe dans le refroidissement climatique // 15.06.2021, Le Temps
Le mouvement vers le zéro carbone se généralise et s’intensifie. Au point de provoquer des goulets d’étranglement qui promettent de durer. C’est déjà le moment d’envisager la transition un brin différemment.

US to launch research challenge to capture CO2 directly from the atmosphere at COP26 climate change conference // 17.06.2021, Science|Business

Impact of carbon dioxide removal technologies on deep decarbonization of the electric power sector // 17.06.2021, Nature Communications

"Arctic drilling is a violation of human rights" // 15.06.2021, The Barents Observer

The bottlenecks which could constrain emission cuts // 12.06.2021, The Economist
The green revolution risks running short of minerals, money and places to build.

‘The next pandemic’: drought is a hidden global crisis, UN says // 17.06.2021, The Guardian


--- Special section: climate and migration ---
 

Addressing the human cost in a changing climate // 18.06.2021, Science

Assessing human habitability and migration // 18.06.2021, Science

Decolonize climate adaptation research // 18.06.2021, Science

Planned relocation: Pluralistic and integrated science and governance // 18.06.2021, Science

Reframing strategic, managed retreat for transformative climate adaptation // 18.06.2021, Science

(© Science)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> Italy’s failed digital democracy dream is a warning // 08.06.2021, WIRED

Biden’s plan to cooperate with Europe on tech // 16.06.2021, Foreign Policy

Biden’s climate diplomacy hits a wall // 18.06.2021, Geneva Solutions

How the U.S. made progress on climate change without ever passing a bill // 16.06.2021, The Atlantic

Humanitarian funding reform due for rethink // 15.06.2021, Geneva Solutions

Antarctique: les Chinois étendent leur influence sur la banquise // 15.06.2021, Le Figaro

(© BAI GUOLONG/Xinhua via AFP)

OF INTEREST

> How the COVID pandemic is changing global science collaborations // 16.06.2021, Nature

Number of scientists worldwide reaches 8.8M, as global research spending grows faster than the economy // 14.06.2021, Science|Business

Massive science-funding bill passes US Senate — but China focus worries researchers // 11.06.2021, Nature

Sei wachsam, und grenze alle aus, die es nicht sind: wenn Woke zur Staatsräson wird // 15.06.2021, NZZ
Einst verfügte der totalitäre Staat Sprache und Denken. In der Demokratie läuft es nun umgekehrt. Der Staat kopiert, was eine angeblich kulturhoheitliche Klasse diktiert. Jüngste Beispiele aus der neuen braven Welt – und ein kleiner Aufruf zum Widerstand.

When time runs backwards: What thermodynamics can tell us about life // 09.06.2021, New Scientist
The second law of thermodynamics, which gives us an arrow of time, is routinely violated at the smallest scales - an insight that is already yielding fresh clues to some of biology's great mysteries.

(© Peter Crowther)

IN THE SPOTLIGHT

> Rebeca Grynspan appointed as UNCTAD’s secretary-general // 11.06.2021, UNCTAD
The Costa Rican economist and former vice president of the Central American nation becomes the first woman to be appointed secretary-general of the UN's trade and development body. (Photo © The Ibero-American General Secretariat)

 

Mauricio Cárdenas on designing and funding future pandemic responses // 25.05.2021, The Economist
There are concrete steps to take, so the world needs to set aside billions to save trillions, writes a former finance minister of Colombia. (Photo: DR)

TOOLS, RESOURCES AND PARTNERS

> COVID-19 has challenged us in every aspect of life // June 2021, PEW Charitable Trust
For millions of Americans, the pandemic has led to the death of a loved one, disruption to the economy, and the loss of a sense of control and normalcy. It has also brought greater attention to the role of science in society.

How science-funding giant Wellcome is tackling racism // 16.06.2021, Nature

Future Earth 2025 Vision // June 2025, Future Earth
The vision of Future Earth is for people to thrive in a sustainable and equitable world. This requires contributions from a new type of science that links disciplines, knowledge systems and societal partners to support a more agile global innovation system. Future Earth is a global research platform designed to provide the knowledge needed to support transformations towards sustainability. Future Earth seeks to build and connect knowledge to increase the impact of research, to explore new development paths, and to find new ways to accelerate transitions to sustainable development. Future Earth will contribute to achieving goals on global sustainable development, as called for at the United Nations (UN) Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) and subsequently articulated under the auspices of the UN General Assembly.

BOOKS

> Managing the ‘dataome’, medical misogyny, and the problem with palm oil: Books in brief // 09.06.2021, Nature
Andrew Robinson and Sara Abdulla review five of the week’s best science picks.

EVENTS

> About the beginning of life, bacteria in the gut and collective intelligence in bees – News from the Life Sciences // 21.06.2021 9am-6pm, organized by Leopoldina

Impact of Digitization on Democracies: Joint Symposium of the Science Academies of Germany, Israel and the USA // 22.06.2021, 3pm to 6pm, organized by the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences
Digitization is an integral part of democracy today. This is particularly evident in election campaigns, political initiatives, and societal debates that are increasingly being conducted via social media. On Tuesday, 22 June, and Wednesday, 23 June, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences are organizing the virtual symposium "Digitization and Democracy" in order to discuss associated risks, policy options, and trends from a scientific point of view. We cordially invite you to this event and would appreciate an announcement of this date in your medium.

© Maksim Kabakou
 > Could better data contribute to making peace with nature? // 22.06.2021, 5pm CET, organized by The Graduate Institute
We invite you to join us for the fifth session of the 2030 Digital Fasttrack Studios (DFS) on Tuesday 22 June 2021 online at 5:00PM (CET) Geneva time. In anticipation of several global environmental milestones in the second half of 2021, this session will highlight the special window of time for all parties to preview the applications of digital technologies for making peace with nature.
WHAT IS GESDA?

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).

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Have a very nice and fruitful week! :-)
Copyright ©  2020, www.GESDA.global. 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.

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