View this email in your browser
GESDA's best pick from the press, web and science journals, in relation to GESDA's thematic platforms

02-16 April 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> GESDA to hold inaugural summit in October for global diplomacy initiatives based on emerging science breakthroughs // 13.04.2021, GESDA press release
The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), released on 13 April its first activity report and announced it will hold its first annual summit to present ambitious solutions based on a proprietary decision-making platform: the GESDA Breakthrough Radar. The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit will convene October 7 to 9 with an expected 300 UN officials, Nobel laureates and other representatives of the four GESDA communities – academics, diplomats, impact leaders, NGOs and the general public – at Geneva’s science hub, Campus Biotech, where GESDA is headquartered. Among the hot-button issues to be debated among participants at interactive sessions and other dialogue are:

  • how to catalyze multilateralism through anticipation and action in science diplomacy;

  • future global challenges for human genome engineering;

  • a common future for quantum computing;

  • the road to the utilization of space resources;

  • co-development of advanced AI at a global scale with universal safe access;

  • and future of financing and development schemes based on science advances.

This press release has been covered worldwide, with articles published in Associated Press, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Toronto Star, Los Angeles Times (in Spanish), The Independent, ABCnews, Aretenews, Arab Times, 20Minutos (in Spanish), BusinessToday India, News24 (in French), Minyu-Net (in Japanese), (in German), and many other outlets.


> Climate change, rich-poor gap, conflict likely to grow - U.S. intelligence report // 08.04.2021, Reuters
This edition of Global Trends 2040 (to download here) constructs its analysis of the future in several stages. First, it examines structural forces in demographics, environment, economics, and technology that shape the contours of our future world. Second, it analyzes how these structural forces and other factors – combined with human responses – affect emerging dynamics in societies, states, and the international system. Third, it envisions five plausible scenarios for the distant future in 2040.

Related articles:

> The global future is looking dark and stormy // 10.04.2021, Axios

Le monde d’après sera différent et plus dangereux (op-ed by François Nordmann) // 13.04.2021, Le Temps


Human cells grown in monkey embryos raise ethical concerns // 15.04.2021, NewScientist
"Researchers have grown human cells in monkey embryos with the aim of understanding more about how cells develop and communicate with each other. Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte at the Salk Institute in California and his colleagues have produced what are known as human-monkey chimeras, with human stem cells – special cells that have the ability to develop into many different cell types – inserted in macaque embryos in petri dishes in the lab. Izpisua Belmonte says the team’s work could pave the way in addressing the severe shortage in transplantable organs as well as help understand more about early human development, disease progression and ageing. However, some ethicists have raised concerns, saying this type of work 'poses significant ethical and legal challenges' ", writes NewScientist.

A human-monkey blastocyst, an early stage of embryo development. (©Weizhi Ji, Kunming University of Science and Technology)


> Using brain interfaces to learn about learning // 10.04.2021, Axios
A new study uses a brain-computer interface (BCI) to observe the neural activity in monkeys during the process of learning. Why it matters: the internal state of the brain is often a mystery – including to ourselves – but new neural interfaces are making it easier for scientists to observe the mind in action. How it works: in a paper published recently in Nature Neuroscience, a large team of researchers hooked up a group of monkeys to BCIs while the study subjects were trained to play a basic computer game.

Related article: 

> The big advance in Elon Musk’s Pong-playing monkey is what you can’t see // 09.04.2021, Ars Technica

(© Eniola Odetunde/Axios)


> The perils of overhyping artificial intelligence // April 2021, Foreign Affairs
For AI to succeed, it first must be able to fail.


Related articles:

> Stop calling everything AI, machine-learning pioneer Michael I. Jordan says // 31.03.2021, IEEE Spectrum

> Big Tech’s guide to talking about AI ethics // 13.04.2021, MIT Technology Review

Europe eyes strict rules for artificial intelligence // 14.04.2021, Politico

People visit an art exhibition created by AI in Istanbul, Turkey, April 2021
(© Osman Orsal Xinhua/eyevine/R​edux)


The Quantum Daily’s quarterly report highlights continued interest in quantum tech // 01.04.2021, The Quantum Daily
The Quantum Daily has issued its quarterly report reviewing the first quarter for 2021. This covers the major commercial and academic news over the last 3 months. The report highlights how the investment momentum in 2020 has continued in to Q1 of 2021. Many expected at least a pause for a collective breath catching. But, if anything, the pace of funding and research findings picked up.


> COVID-19 : que fait la Genève internationale // 09.04.2021, Léman Bleu
À l’occasion de la publication du bulletin “COVID-19 : que fait la Genève internationale?“, la Fondation pour Genève a organisé, en partenariat avec Léman Bleu, une émission spéciale de télévision avec des experts de la santé globale. Avec la participation de :

  • Gaudenz Silberschmidt, Directeur du Département Partenariats sanitaires et multilatéraux à l’Organisation mondiale de la santé (OMS)
  • Bettina Borisch, Professeure à l’Institut de santé globale (UNIGE), Directrice exécutive de la Fédération internationale des associations de santé publique (WFPHA)
  • Thomas Cueni, Directeur général de la Fédération internationale de l’industrie du médicament (IFPMA)
  • Annick Chevillot, journaliste, auteure du bulletin.


> More floods, fires and cyclones — plan for domino effects on sustainability goals // 13.04.2021, Nature
Without new models, better metrics and more investment, cascades of extreme events could derail the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum & physics 

> Quantum computers are revealing an unexpected new theory of reality // 14.04.2021, New Scientist

Quantum computing’s reproducibility crisis: Majorana fermions // 12.04.2021, Nature

A tiny particle’s wobble could upend the known laws of physics // 07.04.2021, The New York Times
Related article: First results from Fermilab's Muon g-2 experiment strengthen evidence of new physics // 09.04.2021, NSF

From cloned sheep to viable DNA sequencing, how a startup with $34.5M in funding is revolutionizing life sciences through quantum mechanics // 08.04.2021, The Quantum Daily

Artificial intelligence & robots 

> What's new and coming in robotics // 03.04.2012, Inside AI (special edition)
Humanoid robots are being used in everything from caregiving to healthcare and general companionship. What is next?

Robots are animals, not humans // 14.04.2021, WIRED

L’armée française intègre dans ses rangs les chiens-robots de Boston Dynamics // 08.04.2021,

Big data to good data: Andrew Ng urges ML community to be more data-centric and less model-centric // 06.04.2021,

It’s creepy that AI is teaching workers to be more human (op-ed) // 13.04.2021, Financial Times

How AI could revolutionize biology — and vice versa // 08.04.2021, Axios

(© Sarah Grillo/Axios)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation


> Brain wifi // 05.04.2021, AEON
Instead of a code encrypted in the wiring of our neurons, could consciousness reside in the brain’s electromagnetic field?

Artificial nervous system senses light and learns to catch like humans // 09.04.2021, New Scientist

The military is funding ethicists to keep its brain enhancement experiments in check // 01.04.2021, Future Human
Efforts involving brain-computer interfaces pose myriad risks to would-be supersoldiers.

Scientists completed the first human trial of a wireless high-bandwidth brain-computer interface // 12.04.2021, Singularity Hub

How AI could upgrade brain stimulation therapies // 12.04.2021, GIZMODO

La traversée du désert de MindMaze // 09.04.2021, Le Temps
La licorne suisse a connu un passage à vide entre 2018 et 2020. Elle assure aujourd’hui avoir utilisé ces années pour accomplir sa mue numérique et se dit en plein redémarrage.



> A massive new gene editing project is out to crush Alzheimer’s // 13.04.2021, Singularity Hub

An on-off switch for gene editing // 14.03.2021, MIT News

Illumina CEO on a genomics-forward future // 10.04.2021, Axios

New genetic drug target for treatment resistant colorectal cancer // 12.04.2021, Sanger Institute press release

A Genève, au Campus Biotech, reportage au cœur de la surveillance des variants // 31.03.2021, Le Temps

Longevity and health

Food supplements that alter gut bacteria could ‘cure’ malnutrition // 07.04.2021, Science

My family’s global vaccine journey // 11.04.2021, The New York Times
We were spread across three continents, at the mercy of vaccine geopolitics. Which of us would be inoculated last?

Preparing for the next pandemic means understanding what scientists got wrong about covid // 01.04.2021, WIRED

The story behind COVID-19 vaccines (editorial by Anthony Fauci) // 09.04.2021, Science

Can blood from young people slow aging? Silicon Valley has bet billions it will // 07.04.2021, Newsweek

A womb with a view // 08.04.2021, NEO.LIFE
Bio bags, robotic preemies, artificial wombs, and the coming revolution in postnatal care to save babies born too soon.

(© Adam Rozanski, for NEO.LIFE)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


With ‘smoke ring’ technology, fusion startup marks steady progress // 08.04.2021, Science

Future of green hydrogen is up in the air as the EU dithers over strategy // 08.04.2021, Science|Business

A battery quantum leap // 14.04.2021, Bloomberg


Greenland’s rare-earth election // 06.04.2021, Foreign Policy

Russia’s Northern Sea Route push is met with scepticism // 05.04.2021, The Barents Observer

Food Systems Summit: Agroecology at the centre of a fierce battle // 09.04.2021, Geneva Solutions

Seaspiracy harms more than it educates // 05.04.2021, Hakai Magazine
The appeal of the Netflix hit is that it suggests there’s one solution to the ocean’s woes. That’s not true. A marine ecologist explains.


Bioengineering stronger crops that can survive extreme weather // 03.04.2021, Axios

Climate and environment

Wildfires launch microbes into the air. How big of a health risk is that? // 13.04.2021, Science News

Countries in the eastern UNECE region can play a leading role in CO2 storage, according to new study // 06.04.2021, UNECE

Du Groenland à la Suisse, les eaux des glaciers livrent leurs secrets // 03.04.2021, EPFL News

BlackRock, Temasek to raise billions for carbon-cutting startups // 13.04.2021, Bloomberg Green

> Why rescuing the climate and saving biodiversity go hand in hand // 07.04.2021, New Scientist
Global warming is a "threat multiplier" for habitats and species already under pressure – by understanding how the problems are linked, we can solve two crises at once.


Va-t-on recycler en orbite les anciens étages de fusées ? // 25.03.2021, Ciel & Espace

U.S. intelligence report predicts heightened space competition between U.S. and China // 08.04.2021, SpaceNews

Toward a decision-intelligent process to assess collision risks in space // 13.04.2021, SpaceWatch.Global

The push to define workers' rights in space // 13.04.2021, Axios

General Atomics wins DARPA contract to develop nuclear reactor to power missions to the moon // 10.04.2021,

Space Settlement Act should guide Nelson’s NASA tenure (op-ed) // 05.04.2021,

Artist's concept of the Project Olympus lunar habitat concept envisioned by architects and designers at BIG, ICON and SEArch+. (© ICON Technology)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

The G7 must push for global vaccination. Here’s how it could do it (Op-Ed by Gordon Brown) // 12.04.2021, The Guardian

Les Etats-Unis entrent dans le grand jeu de la «diplomatie des vaccins» // 08.04.2021, Le Temps

Battling ‘supply constraints’, COVAX may only deliver 20% of vaccine target by June // 09.04.2021, Health Policy Watch

Do we need a Paris Agreement for tech? Here’s what world leaders and tech chiefs say // 06.04.2021, WEF

Are Chinese politics a threat to the patent system? // 09.04.2021, EPFL press release

China’s techno-authoritarianism has gone global // April 2021, Foreign Affairs

Viewpoint: Chinese scientists caught in a cycle of mistrust with the world // 08.04.2021, Science|Business

Rapport annuel 2020 de Swissnex: 20 ans sous le signe de l’imprévisible // 08.04.2021, SEFRI


> A giant boost for US science spending // 09.04.2021, Nature
US President Joe Biden has unveiled his first proposed budget, which would raise core funding for research and development across nearly every major federal science agency, including historic increases to improve public health, invest in clean energy and battle racial injustices.

Related article:
Biden’s first budget request goes big on science // 09.04.2021, Science
The increases over the current year are part of a 58-page list of priorities Biden released. Civilian agencies would receive an overall 16% boost, to $769 billion, whereas defense spending would rise by less than 2%, to $753 billion.

US universities call for clearer rules on science espionage amid China crackdown // 06.04.2021, Nature

World Health Day 2031: looking back on the pandemic from the future // 09.04.2021, The Graduate Institute
Vinh-Kim Nguyen, Co-director of the Global Health Centre and Professor, and Ilona Kickbusch, founding Director and Chair of the Global Health Centre, glimpse into the future, taking stock of a world where global cooperation is a necessary remedy to tackle COVID. 

La science, si précieuse soit-elle, n’est pas au-dessus de la mêlée (op-ed) // 02.04.2021, Le Temps

The limits of political debate // 11.04.2021, The New Yorker
I.B.M. taught a machine to debate policy questions. What can it teach us about the limits of rhetorical persuasion?

Riding high in a workers’ world // 10.04.2021, The Economist
A jobs rebound, shifting politics and technological change could bring a golden age for labour in rich countries

Related article:
A year into the pandemic, work is different, better, and harder. What does that mean for the future? // April 2021, Quartz


> A new pandemic treaty needs to be powerful not only on paper’ // 15.04.2021, Geneva Solutions
Looking back at the coronavirus pandemic, could a new treaty on pandemics prevent us from making the same mistakes in the future? Yes, thinks Jagan Chapagain, the secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). (© IFRC)

New Professor of Practice and global health expert // 25.03.2021, The Graduate Institute
Suerie Moon, Co-director of the Global Health Centre, was recently appointed Professor of Practice for the Interdisciplinary Programmes and International Relations/Political Science. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its course, she has made it her mission to relay the importance of viewing health in terms of politics and diplomacy. (© The Graduate Institute)

Campus Biotech ou l’importance de l’intelligence collective // 13.04.2021,
Benoît Dubuis est notamment le directeur de la Fondation Campus Biotech Geneva, membre du comité de l’Académie suisse des sciences techniques et professeur à la Faculté de Médecine de l’Université de Genève. (Photo: DR)

New ESA director general outlines priorities // 08.04.2021, SpaceNews
With the ESA Agenda 2025 document, Josef Aschbacher has outlined his priorities for the next several years, ranging from improving relations with the EU to increasing commercialization activities. (Photo: DR)
Related article: ESA, CNSA heads discuss future space plans // 07.04.2021, SpaceNews

Bertrand Piccard's Solar Impulse Foundation readies 1000+ profitable solutions to fix climate change // 13.04.2021, Solar Impulse Foundation
Four years after announcing the goal of identifying 1000 clean and profitable solutions to the environmental crisis, Bertrand Piccard and the Solar Impulse Foundation have officially achieved their target and commit to go even further. (© JéromeBontron/Wikipedia)


> “We cannot pretend that science is a perfectly neutral process anymore.” // February 2021, CovidSciCom
Daniel Saraga is a Swiss science journalist and communicator. A former physicist, he has worked for several news outlets before leading communications at the Swiss National Science Foundation. He recently created his independent PR agency and works for several European scientific institutions. He regularly collaborates with the expert COVID task force that advises the Swiss government during the pandemic.

The Craft of Science Writing // March 2021, The Open Notebook
Science journalism has perhaps never been so critical to our world– and the demands on science journalists have never been greater. On any given day, a science journalist might need to explain the details of genetic engineering, analyze a development in climate change research, or serve as a watchdog helping to ensure the integrity of the scientific enterprise. And science writers have to spin tales seductive enough to keep readers hooked to the end, despite the endless other delights just a click away. How does one do it? Here, for the first time, is a collection of indispensable articles on the craft of science writing as told by some of the most skillful science journalists working today. These selections are a wealth of journalistic knowledge from The Open Notebook, the online community that has been a primary resource for science journalists and aspiring science writers for the last decade.

Foresight: more than magic // 29.03.2021, ETHZ Communications
Ever wondered what ETH Zurich – or society and the world in general – might look like 20, 30 or even 40 years from now? ETHZ's ‘crystal ball’ can be found in the Strategic Foresight Team, part of the Office of the President. Instead of psychic powers, however, they offer a wealth of expertise.

(© Visualization: Strategic Foresight Hub/ETH Zurich)


> The Next 500 Years: Engineering Life to Reach New Worlds // By Christopher E. Mason, MIT Press
An argument that we have a moral duty to explore other planets and solar systems – because human life on Earth has an expiration date.


> Elevating the role of science in addressing global challenges // 20.04.2021 5pm CET, organized by Foreign Policy
Humanity’s greatest challenges – and potential for solutions – are interconnected and global. Yet, national interests and political pressures often impede collective action at the global level on urgent issues such as climate change, recovery from the pandemic, or building resilience against future threats to global health and security. Where government leadership and diplomatic engagement may fall short, international collaboration on science and technology development have the power to build bridges and galvanize policy and industry commitments across boundaries. Science diplomacy – effective partnerships between scientists, policymakers and diplomats – has been driving transformative action to move the needle on the biggest problems facing humanity. This conversation will explore how governments, the diplomatic community and academia might use the momentum for global recovery to energize international cooperation on science and technology innovation to tackle misinformation and address global priorities.

> Space Debris Conference // 20.04.2021, organized by ESA
On 20 April 2021, ESA will host the 8th European Conference on Space Debris from Darmstadt, in Germany. Scientists, engineers, industry experts and policy makers will spend the virtual four day conference discussing the latest issues surrounding space debris. They will exchange the latest research, try to come up with solutions for potential problems and define the future direction of any necessary action.
> Multilateralism in the 21st century // 22.04.2021, organized by The Graduate Institute
Multilateralism as we know it is at a crossroads, as the COVID-19 pandemic and recent political tensions and conflicts have squarely revealed. What shape will multilateralism take over the course of the coming years? What specific challenges and opportunities will it face as the global geopolitical order evolves and more stakeholders, from the civil society especially, take an increasingly active part in influencing decision-makers on issues impacting our daily lives.

These and other questions will be debated during an event to mark the International Day of Multilateralism in Geneva, celebrated on 24 April.
  • Tatiana Valovaya, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva, will share her thoughts on the UN Geneva vision of an inclusive multilateralism that can be owned by all stakeholders, national, international, and including players in the civil society and in the private sector.
  • Marie-Laure Salles, Director of the Graduate Institute, will analyse the role of youth and academia in redesigning multilateralism.
  • Researchers from the Graduate Institute, Sara Hellmüller and Bilal Salaymeh, and from the University of Geneva will engage in a frank and open discussion with Geir Pedersen, United Nations Special Envoy for Syria, and Ayşe Cihan Sultanoğlu, United Nations Representative to the Geneva International Discussions, the two United Nations mediators working to respectively find a political solution in Syria, a country torn by a 10-year conflict, and bring security, stability and the voluntary return of internally displaced persons and refugees in a region resulting from a 2008 conflict between Georgia and Russia.
The pre-recorded event, organised by the UN Office at Geneva in collaboration with the Graduate Institute and the University of Geneva, will be launched on on 22 April. It will also be viewable on the UN Geneva website at

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

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can unsubscribe from this list.