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

08-15 January 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> We’ve got intelligence all wrong – and that’s endangering our future // 13.01.2021, New Scientist
A narrow focus on IQ to determine success is depriving us of key decision-making smarts, as our faltering response to problems such as covid-19 and climate change shows.

(© Timo Kuilder, for New Scientist)


> The new era of innovation: why a dawn of technological optimism is breaking // 16.01.2021 edition, The Economist
Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-In-Chief: “During the history of capitalism rapid technological advance has been the norm, but in the 1970s progress slowed. A flurry of recent discoveries based on synthetic biology, artificial intelligence and energy technologies may mean that this “great stagnation” is ending. The world is seeing an investment boom in technology. New ideas are being rapidly adopted, often because of adversities such as the pandemic and global warming. Although the private sector will ultimately determine which innovations succeed or fail, governments also have an important role to play.”

(© The Economist)


> Synthetic biology 2020–2030: six commercially-available products that are changing our world // 11.12.2021, Nature Communications
Synthetic biology will transform how we grow food, what we eat, and where we source materials and medicines. Here I have selected six products that are now on the market, highlighting the underlying technologies and projecting forward to the future that can be expected over the next ten years.

Related article: CRISPR gene-editing urgently needs an off-switch – now we have one // 13.01.2021, New Scientist
Making changes to genes with CRISPR has the potential to cure diseases and feed the world, if we can learn to control it. Now it looks like viruses hold the solution.

(© Nature)


> Edelman Trust Barometer 2021 // 13.01.2021, Edelman
After a year of unprecedented disaster and turbulence – the Covid-19 pandemic and economic crisis, the global outcry over systemic racism and political instability – the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer reveals an epidemic of misinformation and widespread mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world. Adding to this is a failing trust ecosystem unable to confront the rampant infodemic, leaving the four institutions – business, government, NGOs and media – in an environment of information bankruptcy and a mandate to rebuild trust and chart a new path forward.


> 10 tendances technologiques 2021 vues de Chine… // 07.01.2021, InformatiqueNews
DAMO, le centre de recherches scientifiques du groupe Alibaba, publie son nouveau rapport annuel sur les tendances à surveiller en 2021. Un rapport qui parle de quantique et de matériaux mais aussi d’agriculture à l’heure Green IT et de smart-cities à l’ère pandémique.

Related article: … And from America, by the New York Times journalists


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Quantum & physics 

> Drones could help create a quantum internet // 14.01.2021, Science News

Using the SYK model to examine the fast-charging process of quantum batteries // 08.01.2021,

Artificial intelligence

> To make AI a success, every child needs to understand the risk and potential of algorithms // 08.01.2021, ZDNet
A new report from the AI Council, an independent committee that provides advice to the UK government on all algorithmic matters, finds that steps need to be taken from the very start of children's education for artificial intelligence to flourish.

AI weighs in on debate about universal facial expressions // 16.12.2021, Nature

Comment l'intelligence artificielle aide à réduire la pauvreté dans le monde // 11.01.2021, RTS

How artificial intelligence can power climate change strategy // 04.01.2021, Forbes

How explainable AI can help humans innovate // 13.01.2021, Singularity Hub

How robots might be able to learn empathy (sort of) // 11.01.2021, c|net

Superintelligence cannot be contained: lessons from computability theory // 05.01.2021, Journal of AI Research

(© DR)

Platform 2: Human Augmentation

> Nerve  connection makes leg prosthesis feel lighter // 12.01.2021, ETH Zurich press release

Superhuman sight may be possible with lens that makes UV light visible // 13.02.2021, New Scientist


Demain, fusionner l'intelligence artificielle et les neurones // 10.01.2021, Sciences et Avenir

Meet assembloids, mini human brains with muscles attached // 12.01.2021, Singularity Hub

Leveraging prior concept learning improves generalization from few examples in computational models of human object recognition // 12.01.2021, Frontiers in Computational Neurosciences
This study suggest techniques for learning even more efficiently and provide a biologically plausible way to learn new visual concepts from few examples.


Toward better governance of human genomic data // 07.01.2021, Nature Genetics

Inferring human genomes at a fraction of the current cost promises to boost biomedical research // 13.01.2021, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics press release

New method helps pocket-sized DNA sequencer achieve near-perfect accuracy // 12.01.2021, of British Columbia

Chances and risks of commercial DNA testing (REPORT) // 12.01.2021, Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences

Do our genes hold the key to the right diet? // 29.12.2020, American Council on Science and Health

Scientists ‘program’ living bacteria to store data // 11.01.2021, Science

Longevity and health

L’ère des pandémies ne fait que commencer // 12.01.2021, FuturaSanté

An new era opens: how COVID unlocked the power of RNA vaccines // 12.01.2021, Nature News

Alzheimer’s drug shows promise in small trial // 11.01.2021, New York Times

Scientists reprogram fat cells to repair injuries // 14.01.2021, Futurism

Microbiome connections with host metabolism and habitual diet from 1,098 deeply phenotyped individuals // 11.01.2021, Nature Medicine

Houston, we have a baby // 14.01.2021, NEO.LIFE
What’s the protocol for creating a healthy new human when you subtract Earth from the equation?

(© Illustration by Azamat Akhmadbaev, for NEO.LIFE)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


The plan to build a global network of floating power stations // 11.01.2021, WIRED

Biggest oil exporter Saudi Arabia launches car-free city, within NEOM project // 11.01.2021 Bangkok Post

Tiny robots and sensors need tiny batteries — here’s how to do it // 13.01.2021, Nature

An industrial perspective on catalysts for low-temperature CO2 electrolysis // 11.01.2021, Nature Nanotechnology


China’s rural agriculture doesn’t just feed people - it powers the future // 18.12.2021, MIT Technology Review

Plants that suck metals from the soil can be farmed to make our tech // 06.01.2021, New Scientist

Trois banques mobilisent 10 milliards pour investir dans la protection de la biodiversité // 11.01.2021,

The Ocean 100: transnational corporations in the ocean economy // 13.01.2021, Science Advances
Related article: Collaborating robots sample the primary production in the ocean // 13.01.2021, Science Robotics

Insect decline in the Anthropocene: death by a thousand cuts (SPECIAL FEATURE) // 11.01.2021, PNAS

Climate and environment

Climate change: Africa's green energy transition 'unlikely' this decade // 12.01.2021, BBC

Rethinking urban planning for sub-Saharan African cities // 13.01.2021, EPFL press release

Reshoring EU agriculture risks undermining SDGs (COMMENT) // 12.01.2021, Nature News 

The plan to build a global carbon capture and storage industry (VIDEO) // 12.01.2021, TED

More than 50 countries commit to protection of 30% of Earth's land and oceans // 11.01.2021, The Guardian
Based on this press release by Campaign for Nature

'Ecological Ponzi scheme' threatens to bring down humanity, scientists warn // 13.01.2021, Thomson Reuters Foundation news

L’injection de soufre dans l’atmosphère va-t-elle nous sauver du réchauffement climatique ? // 13.01.2021, Futura Sciences


To boldly go: EU wants to make a great leap in the space race // 14.01.2021, Science|Business
‘We need to be more offensive and aggressive,’ says EU Internal Market commissioner Thierry Breton, as he outlines a plan to put hundreds of communications satellites into space to run the internet.

Related article: EU must 'move at speed' on space broadband network // 13.01.2021, BBC

A new space-related fund is coming to Wall Street // 13.01.2021, CNBC

Removing space junk // 16.01.2021, The Economist


> UK may allow gene editing of crops and livestock following Brexit // 08.01.2021, New Scientist

> CRISPR and the splice to survive // 11.02.2021, New Yorker
New gene-editing technology could be used to save species from extinction—or to eliminate them.

(© New Yorker)

Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

Le Conseil fédéral a entendu les appels des scientifiques // 13.01.2021, Le Temps

Den Bundesräten sitzt die Taskforce im Nacken // 09.01.2021, Schweiz am Wochenende

Der Epidemiologe Christian Althaus kehrt der Corona-Task-Force den Rücken // 09.01.2021, NZZ

Search for better COVID vaccines confounded by existing rollouts // 08.01.2021, Nature News

Broken promises: how Singapore lost trust on contact tracing privacy // 11.01.2021, MIT Technology Review

Health and tech groups aim to create digital Covid ‘vaccination passport’ // 14.01.2021, Financial Times

How to include Indigenous researchers and their knowledge // 12.01.2021, Nature
Researchers from Native American and Indigenous communities explain how colleagues and institutions can help them to battle marginalization.

Conquête spatiale, supercalculateur... la Chine, un géant scientifique lancé à pleine vitesse // 13.01.2021, Le Monde
Xi Jinping a fait de la réussite des projets scientifiques et technologiques un marqueur essentiel du succès du modèle politique chinois.

Biden builds out administration-wide climate team // 14.01.2021, American Institute of Physics

America's approach to command and control goes peer to peer // 09.01.2021, The Economist

(© US Airforce)


> Jean Chamel: «Quand le récit du progrès est mis à l'épreuve, la collapsologie vient redonner du sens» // 11.01.2021,

For the first time, a career diplomat is to lead the CIA // 11.01.2021, The Economist
William Burns is swapping soft power for a cloak and dagger.

€93 billion spent by public sector on COVID vaccines and therapeutics in 11 months, research finds // 12.01.2021, Health Policy Watch

COVID-19 triggered unprecedented collaboration in research // 12.01.2021, Science|Business
The pandemic has both spurred on and demonstrated the value of open science, but has also exposed gaps in science policy. Now is a good time for reform, says OECD.

Based on the OECD Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook published 12.01.2021.

Related article: Lessons from a pandemic: international science cooperation must continue beyond COVID-19

Décoloniaux, racialistes, identitaristes : enquête sur les nouveaux fanatiques // 13.01.2020, Le Point


«Wir hätten mit einer Stimme sprechen sollen» // 14.01.2021, NZZ
Sabine Süsstrunk ist seit kurzem Präsidentin des Schweizerischen Wissenschaftsrats. Sie sagt, der Bundesrat höre oft auf die Forschung. Doch in der Corona-Krise hätten viele Wissenschafter einen entscheidenden Fehler gemacht.

Son interview en français sur la RTS Radio (15.01.2021) : "
Le discours scientifique peut parfois être un peu cacophonique" (Photo: DR)

> He created the Web. Now he’s out to remake the digital world // 10.01.2021, New York Times
Tim Berners-Lee wants to put people in control of their personal data. He has technology and a start-up pursuing that goal. Can he succeed? (© Wikicommons)

> How AI can help shatter barriers to equality // November 2020, TED
Jamila Gordon believes in the power of human connection – and artificial intelligence – to help people who might otherwise be left behind. Telling the story of her own path from refugee to global tech executive, she shows how AI is helping refugees, migrants and those from disadvantaged backgrounds find jobs and develop the skills they need to work effectively and safely. 
(© TED)

> Massimo Marelli: 'only trusted technology can be successful technology' // 13.01.2021, Geneva Solutions
The DigitHarium, launched by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in partnership with a number of other humanitarian organisations, data protection authorities, academia, and civil society invited OHCHR special rapporteur on the right to privacy Professor Joseph A. Cannataci to share his experience in the first “digital dilemmas” dialogue on data protection in a Covid world. ICRC’s head of the data protection office, Massimo Marelli, and co-editor of the event discusses the issues at stake. (Photo : DR)

> La Suisse et le sommet pour la démocratie // 12.01.2021, Le Temps
Joe Biden entend convoquer dans le courant de l’année un sommet pour la démocratie. La Suisse devrait répondre positivement et rapidement à cette idée, écrit François Nordmann(Photo : DR)


> The pandemic has pushed citizen panels online (COMMENT) // 12.01.2021, Nature News
It’s time to apply research on in-person public deliberation to the virtual world.

Industrialized Disinformation: 2020 Global Inventory of Organized Social Media Manipulation // 13.01.2021, Oxford Internet Institute/University of Oxford

MIT launches Center for Constructive Communication // 13.01.2021, MIT Media Lab press release
The cross-campus effort will design human-machine systems that improve communication across divides and increase opportunity for underheard communities.

Join the next generation of quantum communicators // 08.01.2021, Physics World

Researchers’ views on science communication in Switzerland (SURVEY REPORT) // 17.12.2020, NCCR-Chembio


> Symposium on Sustainable Space Logistics // 16-18.01.2021, online, organised by Space Innovation
The EPFL Space Center is hosting a digital symposium on Sustainable Space Logistics – It’s time to rethink, to react! A revolution is afoot in space logistics. Starting with nanosatellites, now reusable rockets and soon satellite constellations providing internet throughout the planet. These developments could provide wonderful benefits, but also bring serious sustainability challenges one of them being increased congestion and orbital debris. In 2019, the EPFL Space Center started a research initiative on Sustainable Space Logistics. The thematic of space logistics is still largely untouched and will be the backbone of multiple large-scale applications on new materials & services, data, human spaceflight, etc.

> Global Health Summit: the six major health challenges now // 21.01.2021, 9am-3pm GMT, organised by Tortoise media
It has taken the pandemic to show that the healthcare systems of the 20th Century are no longer fit for purpose. Covid has been the defining health crisis of the decade, but, if nothing else, it has proved that there must be a global rethink of public health policy and preventive medicine. Nothing should be off the table. It will take investment, ingenuity and humility – not to mention global cooperation between governments, business, scientists, practitioners and people – to imagine, and quickly deliver, new innovations in health that are sorely needed. Tortoise will convene a one-day virtual summit looking at immediate challenges facing our health. We’ll be talking with health professionals, scientists and patients to address the challenges that we face in the next decade. We’ll be asking and answering urgent questions such as: Are we ready for the next pandemic? Do we need to change the funding model for the NHS? And how can the transformative potential of health tech deliver real change in our lifetime?

> The end of ageing with Aubrey de Grey // 21.01.2021, 6pm GMT, organised by New Scientist
People are living longer - no longer because of reduced child mortality, but because we are postponing the ill-health of old age. But we’ve seen nothing yet: rejuvenation biotechnology, regenerative medicine and other new medicines will eventually be so comprehensive that people will stay truly youthful however long they live, which means they may mostly live very long indeed. In this talk, Chief Science Officer at the SENSE Research Foundation, Aubrey de Grey will discuss both the biology and the sociology of what will be the most momentous advance in the history of civilisation.

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
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