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

05-12 March 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> Un rapport liste les dangers qui guettent l'OMS et la Genève internationale à l'épreuve du Covid // 10.03.2021,
Centre névralgique de l’effort collectif sans précédent à l’échelle planétaire qu’est la lutte contre la pandémie de Covid-19, la Genève internationale a assis son statut de capitale mondiale de la santé publique. Forte de la septantaine d’entités qui composent son pôle santé, elle s’est retrouvée aux premières loges pour analyser les réussites et les échecs de la gestion de crise, répertoriés dans un rapport publié ce mardi 9 mars par la Fondation pour Genève.

Article en relation:

> Olivier Coutau: “L’initiative Covax est une belle illustration de la raison d’être de la Genève internationale» // 10.03.2021,
Le pôle santé de la Genève internationale a été confronté à une crise sanitaire planétaire sans précédent. Un grand jeu géopolitique complexe où intérêts privés, philanthropie et nationalismes sanitaires ont placé l’OMS au cœur d’un écheveau d'intérêts divergents. De son côté, qu’est-ce que le canton de Genève a fait pour la Genève internationale en 2020? fait le point avec Olivier Coutau, délégué à la Genève internationale à la Direction des affaires internationales du canton de Genève.


> Israel, Switzerland and UK face exclusion from major EU quantum and space research projects // 09.03.2021, Science|Business
Researchers stunned as draft Horizon Europe work programme shuts out close research partners. ‘This is not in Europe’s interest’ says leading quantum physicist.


> Are you ready to be a techno-optimist again? // 24.02.2021, MIT Technology Review
In 2001, the MIT Review picked their first annual set of 10 breakthrough technologies. Here’s what their fates tell us about progress over the last two decades.


> Stanford University just published their 2021 AI Index Report // March 2021, Stanford University
The 2021 AI Index report is one of the most comprehensive reports about artificial intelligence to date. This latest edition significantly expands the amount of data available in the report, which was drawn from a broader set of academic, private, and non-profit organizations for calibration. The report also shows the effect of COVID-19 on AI development from multiple perspectives, including how AI helps with COVID-related drug discovery and the effect of the pandemic on hiring and private investment.


> «Genève pourrait être le centre du monde numérique» // 11.03.2021, Tribune de Genève
L’ambassadeur Alexandre Fasel sera le premier représentant spécial pour la diplomatie scientifique à Genève. Une mission chère au Conseil fédéral.

(© DFAE)


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum and physics 

> A quantum trick with photons gives machine learning a speed boost // 10.03.2021, NewScientist

'Egg carton' quantum dot array could lead to ultralow power devices // 04.03.2021, Phys.Org

 Technologies quantiques : la prochaine révolution // March 2021, TA-SWISS
Related paper: Quantum technologies, a whitepaper, TA-SWISS
World-wide the interest in quantum technologies has risen in the last 5 years, with a strong increase in patent application, in public-funding as well as a race-like atmosphere between China, the U.S.A., Japan and Europe. Switzerland is actively engaging in the development of this technology and has a world-leading research position. The purpose of this paper is to support the determination of the best timing for a technology assessment study, which aims to identify and analyse the consequences of new technologies on our society as early as possible.

China plans to defeat US supremacy in AI, quantum computing with five-year plan // 07.03.2021, TechTimes


Artificial intelligence and computing

> AI advocates seek vast expansion of new national initiative // 05.03.2021, American Institute of Physics

A leap of faith: is there a formula for "trustworthy" AI? // February 2021, Hastings Center Report

Inside the fall of Watson Health: how IBM’s audacious plan to ‘change the face of health care’ with AI fell apart // 08.03.2021, STAT

Ultra sophisticated computer vision defeated by pen and paper // 08.03.2021, VICE

Teaching a neural network the hard way // 04.03.2021, Physics

As Moore’s Law slows, chip specialization could undermine computing progress // 08.03.2021, SingularityHub

Cells as computers // 09.03.2021, ETH Zurich news
Scientists at ETH Zurich are working to develop information-​processing switching systems in biological cells. Now, for the first time, they have developed an OR switch in human cells that reacts to different signals.

In their research, ETH Zurich scientists bring mathematical and electronic information processing approaches into biological systems. (Photograph: Colourbox / Montage: Gidon Wessner)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation

In pictures: up close with transhumanists // 24.02.2021, MIT Technology Review
They have many reasons for modifying their bodies, but transhumanists are united in their belief that technology can unlock a new way of being.

Public attitudes toward human-animal chimera research may be more complicated than they appear // February 2021, Stem Cell Reports

Longevity and health

> Without these lipid shells, there would be no mRNA vaccines for COVID-19 // 06.03.2021, Chemical and Engineering News

How to build an artificial heart // 01.03.2021, The New Yorker

This sea slug cut off its own head—and lived to tell the tale // 08.03.2021, Science


Gene-silencing injection reverses pain in mice // 10.03.2021, Science

A metagenomics approach to investigate microbiome sociobiology // 09.03.2021, PNAS

Understanding synthetic biology, featuring 10 companies to watch (REPORT) // February 2021, STAT
Synthetic biology is not a new field. But it’s moving at warp speed thanks to advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence, and automation. Investment in companies working in this field are rapidly expanding, with the industry receiving $7.8 billion in private and public financing in 2020 — nearly 2 1/2 times the amount poured into the industry in 2019. This report will help you develop a deeper understanding of synthetic biology and key players. In addition to explaining the tools at the heart of synthetic biology, the report offers a closer look at 10 companies taking the field by storm, including, Synlogic, Twist Biosciences, eGenesis, and Strateos.


> NIH scientists use human cerebral organoid to test drug for deadly brain disease // 09.03.2021, NIH

Gut microbes may hold the key for treating neurological disorders // 10.03.2021,

How is this horse feeling? New mobile brain wave reader could tell // 09.03.2021, Science

Three visions of the future, inspired by neuroscience’s past and present // 03.03.2021, Science News
The most exciting parts of neuroscience are yet to come. Here’s what we imagine.

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> Novel lithium-metal batteries will drive the switch to electric cars // 24.02.2021, MIT Technology Review

Gates-backed startup joins race to make green hydrogen cheaper // 09.03.2021, Bloomberg Green 

Saudi Arabia’s bold plan to rule the $700 billion hydrogen market // 06.03.2021, Bloomberg Green

A systemic approach to mapping participation with energy transitions // 04.03.2021, Nature Energy

Nuclear technology’s role in the world’s energy supply is shrinking // 09.03.2021, Nature


> Momentum on valuing ecosystems is unstoppable // 11.03.2021, Nature
The idea that ecosystems have monetary value creates a welcome route to conserving Earth’s endangered regions.


Climate and environment

How Mexico’s vast tree-planting program ended up encouraging deforestation // 08.03.2021, Bloomberg

Nuclear power must be well regulated, not ditched // 06.03.2021, The Economist

How the loss of soil is sacrificing America’s natural heritage // 01.03.2021, e360.yale

In the Atlantic Ocean, subtle shifts hint at dramatic dangers // 08.03.2021, The New York Times
The warming atmosphere is causing an arm of the powerful Gulf Stream to weaken, some scientists fear.

Can China’s new carbon market take off? // 27.02.2021, The Economist

Carbon-negative crops may mean water shortages for 4.5 billion people // 08.03.2021, NewScientist


> Space firm Rocket Lab reveals ambitious plans for missions to Venus, human spaceflight and mega-constellations as it goes public // 08.03.2021, Daily Mail

Scientists study human cell infection in space // 11.03.2021, SpaceWatch.Global

China and Russia agree to build joint lunar space station // 10.03.2021, CNN

Long-distance space travel: addressing the radiation problem // 08.03.2021, PhysicsWorld


Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> The Biden administration increases the social cost of carbon // 02.03.2021, Undark

How many vaccine doses can nations ethically hoard? // 09.03.2021, Foreign Affairs

What to do about Big Tech? // 09.03.2021, Swissinfo
Just ten years ago we were celebrating social media as a liberating force during the Arab spring. Now the UN Human Rights Commissioner is warning about the spread of online hate speech.


Sir Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome Trust and GESDA Board Member, 10.03.2021


> « La crise de Fukushima et le Covid-19 présentent des similitudes » // 11.03.2021, Le Point
Naoto Kan, Premier ministre du Japon lors de la catastrophe, revient sur cette tragédie et les enseignements qu’il en a tirés.

5 pandemic mistakes we keep repeating // 26.02.2021, The Atlantic
We can learn from our failures.

China announces major boost for R&D, but plan lacks ambitious climate targets // 05.03.2021, Science

Humanity is a cuckoo in the planetary nest (OPINION) // 09.03.2021, Financial Times 

How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation // 11.03.2021, MIT Technology Review

Faut-il ressusciter virtuellement nos morts? (VIDEO) // 08.03.2021, Le Temps


> Martin Vetterli: «Si on veut résoudre le problème du changement climatique, on a besoin de trouver des alternatives pour produire de l'énergie verte» // 09.03.2021, RTS La 1ère
Le président de l'EPFL et co-président du Forum Académique de GESDA parle nucléaire, science énergétique et changement climatique au micro de La Matinale de la RTS. (Photo: EPFL)

Suerie Moon: «En matière de santé globale, Genève doit clairement rehausser son niveau d'action» // 11.03.2021, Le Temps
Codirectrice du Global Health Centre de l’IHEID, Suerie Moon estime que Genève et ses organisations internationales devront passer à un niveau supérieur de haute diplomatie qui inclura les questions de sécurité nationale, d’économie, de commerce et d’environnement. (Photo: IHEID)

CyberPeace Institute: 'Cyberattacks on healthcare is a story about people' (PODCAST) // 10.03.2021, Geneva Solutions
Cyberattacks are increasing and evolving with time, exploiting vulnerabilities in the sector's fragile digital infrastructure and weaknesses in its cybersecurity regime. The result is a threat to global health and to people, says the new report published by the CyberPeace Institute on 9 March. Hear its CEO Stéphane Duguin about this. (© CyberPeace Institute)

Zeroth-principles thinking // 09.03.2021, Medium
How does one come up with a truly original idea? One that reshapes society for centuries, asks Bryan Johnson, CEO of Kernel and GESDA Academic Expert. (© Medium)


> Advancing science for the benefit of humanity // March 2021, Kavli Foundation
Explore the new website of the foundation.

> What is the impact of Covid-19 on science communication? (REPORT) // 11.03.2021, Académie suisse des sciences
From time pressure to public scrutiny, Covid-19 has influenced the production of scientific knowledge as well as its dissemination among decision makers and to the general public. The study titled "CovidSciCom - The Impact of Covid-19 on Science Communication", which was carried out in Switzerland, India and the USA, provides an insight.


> Space, that lawless place // 12.03.2021, 8pm CET, organized by the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights
Space law consists, for the most part, of treaties drawn up during the Cold War and ratified almost fifty years ago. Today, it seems outdated and incapable of providing a framework for the exploitation of space resources or addressing the crucial issues of satellite-related pollution.

Speakers: Benjamin Guyot, Lawyer, Doctor of Law, responsible for launch services contracts for the European Space Agency (ESA); Muriel Richard-Noca, Co-founder and chief engineer of Swiss startup ClearSpace; Luc Piguet, CEO and co-Founder of ClearSpace; Christophe Bonnal, Space Debris expert - CNES Launcher Directorate.

(© MIT)
> UNOOSA promotes space sustainability with case study conference // 15.03.2021, 10:30am CET, organized by UNOOSA
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) continues its efforts to promote space sustainability with a public presentation of case studies on 15 March. Regulators and policy makers from the global space community (Japan, China, South Africa, Germany, UK, Philippines, US, Italy, Estonia and APSCO) will share operational case-studies on how they are putting sustainability into practice, UNOOSA said. The event is part of the UN office’s effort to raise global awareness of the importance of space sustainability and related capacity-building services for emerging space-faring nations, the office said.

Digital technologies and humanitarian action in armed conflict // 18.03.2021, 1:30pm, organized by the ICRC
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is pleased to invite you to an expert discussion on “Digital technologies and humanitarian action in armed conflict”. This event marks the start of a yearly global conversation hosted by the International Review of the Red Cross (the Review) on cross-cutting issues of international humanitarian law, humanitarian policy and action. Opening and closing remarks will be delivered by ICRC President Peter Maurer, welcoming remarks will be delivered by Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy, and the event will be co-moderated by Helen Durham and Bruno Demeyere, Editor-in-Chief of the Review.

(© ICRC)

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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