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

Summer special - 7 September 2021

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg

Geneva Science and Diplomacy
Anticipation Summit

7-9 October 2021, Campus Biotech Geneva


Help shape the future of Science diplomacy!
> Exchange on the pertinence of anticipatory Science diplomacy
> Share your experiences and build-up your expertise in this emerging field

Learn about the science breakthroughs most likely to impact people, society and the planet
> Hear about 16 most science topics with the potential to transform the world
> Sharpen your comprehension of 4 scientific domains: 1.Advanced AI & Quantum Revolution;  2.Human Augmentation;  3.Eco-regeneration & geoengineering; 4.Science&Diplomacy

Debate whether and how diplomacy should embrace these advances for the benefit of humanity
> Discuss the relevance of the upcoming science breakthrough for the international affairs and governance
> Contribute to and propose initiatives to best exploit their potential to solve global challenges 



> Science advisors issue global call for evidence-based policy-making // 31.08.2021,
Largely in light of the publication and transmission of incorrect and misleading scientific information about topics such as the pandemic, COVID-19 vaccines, climate change, and other health- and medical-related issues, thought leaders and science advisors to governments and global institutions, researchers, academics, and diplomats met in Montreal August 30–September 2 at the Fourth International Conference on Science Advice to Governments (INGSA 2021). Their stated goal was to discuss what’s at stake in the relationship between science and policy-making, both during crises and within our daily lives.

Related article: A science advice network for francophone countries // 02.09.2021,
A leading science policy group has launched a science advisory network for French-speaking countries, enabling researchers across the francophone world to share ideas and best practice. The architect of the new network is Rémi Quirion, the incoming head of INGSA and the chief scientist of Quebec. He discusses his priorities and his vision.

Related contentNewly released compendium of Speaker Viewpoints of the Fourth International Conference on Science Advice to Governments (INGSA 2021)


> Alexandre Fasel: «En tant qu’Etat hôte, notre rôle est d’anticiper les révolutions scientifiques à venir» // 04.09.2021, Le Temps
Ex-ambassadeur de Suisse à Londres, le Fribourgeois occupe depuis peu un nouveau poste: représentant spécial de la Confédération pour la diplomatie scientifique. Il explique au «Temps» les enjeux scientifiques autour de la Genève internationale.

© David Wagnières, pour Le Temps


> Quantum technology: our sustainable future // The Quantum Daily
This new documentary feature from The Quantum Daily explores insights from leading quantum computing experts and tech giants such as Google, IBM, Oxford Instruments and Intel as well as start-ups such as PsiQuantum to discuss key sustainability topics, including how quantum technologies could reduce the energy required for complex computations even as demand continues to rise. The documentary also looks at the challenge of minimizing quantum computing’s own potential environmental impact whilst ensuring the development of applications to address global sustainability issues is prioritized.


> Google is shutting down controversial data-sharing project with NHS // 02.09.2021, New Scientist
Google plans to shut down its controversial Streams app, which analysed medical record information and aimed to improve monitoring of vital signs and other tests to improve care. The tech company’s AI subsidiary, DeepMind, first announced in February 2016 that it was working with the National Health Service (NHS) trusts to analyse patient data. The company intended to combine machine learning with bulk medical data to develop models that could predict or diagnose acute kidney injury. But a New Scientist investigation that year revealed that one of these data-sharing agreements, with the Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust, would give DeepMind access to comprehensive data on 1.6 million people, including sensitive information such as whether they had been diagnosed with HIV or depression, or had ever had an abortion. That agreement was later found to have failed to comply with data protection laws. Google is now closing its dedicated Google Health department and moving staff working on its projects to other areas of the business.



> Artificial Intelligence and the ‘Gods Behind the Masks’ // 01.09.2021, WIRED
In an excerpt from AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future, Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan explore what happens when deepfakers attack the deepfakes.
Related articles:
> The Fight to Define When AI Is ‘High Risk’ // 01.09.2021, WIRED
Everyone from tech companies to churches wants a say in how the EU regulates AI that could harm people.
> Time to harmonise artificial intelligence principles, experts say // 22.07.2021, Science|Business
With over 117 AI ethics initiatives springing up around the world, there’s a lot of talk of AI regulation, but where is it all heading?

(Illustration: Sam Whitney, Getty Images)


> Retour sur le Global Emerging Technology Summit organisé le 13 juillet par la NSCAI // Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis
La National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) a organisé un sommet sur les technologies émergentes le 13 juillet 2021 à Washington, DC afin de convier les pays partenaires des États-Unis autour du thème de l’intelligence artificielle (IA) et plus largement des nouvelles technologies. Plusieurs intervenants de haut niveau du gouvernement américain ont invité leurs alliés à s’unir aux États-Unis afin de bâtir une coalition technologique des démocraties contre les régimes jugés autoritaires.


> The Mind issue // September 2021, MIT Technology Review
The brain is the most complex bit of technology on the planet. This issue looks at how neuroscience is learning how this mass of cells and connections somehow produces the mind—and all the mysterious and essential parts of being a human that go with it.
Including these articles:
> What would it be like to be a conscious AI?
> The miracle molecule that could threat brain injuries and boost your fading memory
> Eight ways scientists are unwrapping the mysteries of the human brain
> The hunt for hidden signs of consciousness in unreachable patients


> «Lighthouse» ou comment Patrick Aebischer veut faire de la Suisse un pôle à vaccins // 07.09.2021, Le Temps
Vite éteindre une nouvelle flambée de Covid-19, ou d’une autre maladie, par le biais de l’ARN messager, depuis une «usine pilote» en Suisse et de conteneurs à vaccins, pour une production itinérante. Le dernier projet de l’ex-président de l’EPFL a été porté à Berne

Image d'un bioreacteur (@Flickr)


> Human genome editing: recommendations // 12.07.2021, WHO
The recent application of tools, such as CRISPR-Cas9 to edit the human genome with the intention of treating or preventing disease and the gaps in our scientific understanding, in addition to some of the proposed applications of human genome editing, raise ethical issues that have highlighted the need for robust oversight in this area In December 2018, WHO established a global, multidisciplinary expert advisory committee to examine the scientific, ethical, social and legal challenges associated with human genome editing (somatic, germline and heritable). The governance framework on human genome editing, along with the recommendations of the Committee, form a set of two publications that provide advice and recommendations on appropriate institutional, national, regional and global governance mechanisms for human genome editing. A position paper on human genome editing provides a summary of these two publications.


Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI


> All Member States now committed to building an EU quantum communication infrastructure // 28.07.2021, European Commission

> It’s not too late for Europe to lead the post-quantum cryptography race // 30.08.2021, Sifted

> Proposal for space-borne quantum memories for global quantum networking // 18.08.2021, Nature Quantum Information

> Google Gets One Step Closer to Error-Corrected Quantum Computing // 19.07.2021, SingularityHub

> EPFL launches new Center for Quantum Science and Engineering // 01.09.2021, The Quantum Daily

> Why it might be impossible to build a practical quantum computer // 25.08.2021, NewScientist

> How a simple crystal could help pave the way to full-scale quantum computing // 19.08.2021, SingularityHub

> Quantum Technology In Space // 04.08.2021, The Quantum Daily

Artificial intelligence

> Inside the mind of Big AI // 20.08.2021, Financial Times
When you can no longer be certain what your machines aren’t capable of, it may be time to start worrying

> Im Kopf einer künstlichen Intelligenz // 03.07.2021, NZZamSonntag

> These super-efficient, artificial neurons do not use electrons // 03.09.2021, IEEE Spectrum
So could the brain’s super-efficiency have to do with ions?

> Geometric deep learning of RNA structure // 27.08.2021, Science

> A new chip cluster will make massive AI models possible // 24.08.2021, WIRED

> Can robots evolve into machines of loving grace? // 24.08.2021, WIRED

©Aaron Denton

Platform 2: Human Augmentation

> New mini-CRISPR systems could dramatically expand the scope of gene therapy // 05.09.2021, Singularity Hub

> CRISPR-engineered cells release drug in response to inflammation when implanted into mice // 02.09.2021,

> Efficient CRISPR editing with a hypercompact Cas12f1 and engineered guide RNAs delivered by adeno-associated virus // 02.09.2021, Nature Biotechnology

Longevity and health

> Meet Altos Labs, Silicon Valley’s latest wild bet on living forever // 04.09.2021, MIT Technology Review

> New poo, new you? Fecal transplants reverse signs of brain aging in mice // 09.08.2021, Science

> WHO, Germany open Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin // 01.09.2021, WHO press release
New hub’s mission is to provide the world with better data, analytics and decisions to detect and respond to health emergencies


> The hard problem of consciousness is already beginning to dissolve // 01.09.2021, NewScientist
Science can solve the great mystery of consciousness – how physical matter gives rise to conscious experience – we just have to use the right approach, says neuroscientist Anil Seth

> Can quantum effects in the brain explain consciousness? // 25.08.2021, NewScientist

> High-throughput mapping of a whole rhesus monkey brain at micrometer resolution // 26.07.2021, Nature Biotechnology

> To learn more quickly, brain cells break their DNA // 05.09.2021, WIRED

> Futuristic bionic arm helps amputees feel the sensation of touch and movement // 01.09.2021, c|net

> Researchers take step toward next-generation brain-computer interface system // 12.08.2021, Brown University
A new kind of neural interface system that coordinates the activity of hundreds of tiny brain sensors could one day deepen understanding of the brain and lead to new medical therapies.

©Jihun Lee

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration & Geoengineering


> Solar panels in space could help power the UK by 2039, claims report // 18.08.2021, NewScientist

> A framework for a hydrogen economy // 18.08.2021, Joule

> The big tech quest to find metals needed for the energy overhaul // 11.08.2021, MIT Technology Review

> Namibia and Germany join forces in green hydrogen race // 26.08.2021, Science|Business

> Laser Fusion Experiment Unleashes an Energetic Burst of Optimism // 17.08.2021, New York Times

> Solar power grows to provide 10% of EU’s electricity this summer // 31.08.2021, Science|Business


> A new technology, based on a quirk of evolutionary biology, may be the next big thing for CRISPR // 19.08.2021, STAT+

> Rothamsted gets green light to trial gene-edited wheat // 26.08.2021, Farmers Weekly

> Molecular farming means the next vaccine could be edible and grown in a plant // 17.08.2021, Singularity Hub


> DNA repair using CRISPR will be key to future space exploration // 19.08.2021, Advanced Science News

> Elon Musk’s Starlink will become the black hole project // 05.07.2021, Medium

> Space agencies support ISS extension as NASA warns of space race with China // 25.08.2021, SpaceNews

> More work needed on space stability and security // 25.08.2021, SpaceNews

Climate and environment

> Swiss Re and Climeworks launch partnership by signing world’s first ten-year carbon removal purchase agreement // 25.08.2021, SwissRe press release

> The UN climate report pins hopes on carbon removal technologies that barely exist // 09.08.2021, MIT Technology Review

> Net-zero living: How your day will look in a carbon-neutral world // 01.09.2021, NewScientist
We fast-forward to 2050 and imagine what an average day will be like when we have slashed our carbon emissions – a picture informed by the latest research, ongoing trials and expert opinion


> Food systems: seven priorities to end hunger and protect the planet // 30.08.2021, Nature

> Man v food: is lab-grown meat really going to solve our nasty agriculture problem? // 29.07.2021, The Guardian


Platform 4: Science & Diplomacy

> Cohesion needed to improve neuroscience research in Africa // 27.08.2021, Nature Africa
Understanding capacity is a crucial benchmark to manage the continent’s knowledge resources

> The rise of citizen social science raises more questions about social science than it answers // 27.07.2021, London School of Economics

> Xi Jinping’s assault on tech will change China’s trajectory // 14.08.2021, The Economist

> China is laying climate traps for the United States // 02.09.2021, Foreign Policy
With the Glasgow conference approaching, U.S. diplomats must be careful.
Related article: China Ties Climate to Better U.S. Relations in Kerry Talks // 01.09.2021, Bloomberg

> Biden pledged to ‘follow the science.’ But experts say he’s sometimes fallen short // 01.09.2021, STAT

> Biometrics in humanitarian action: a delicate balance // 02.09.2021, Humanitarian Law&Policy

> Diversity in science workforce an ‘economic imperative’  // 02.09.2021, Nature
UK parliamentary group calls for greater representation of women and minority ethnic groups.

> Pandemic preparedness and the role of science – Science academies provide recommendations to G20 states // 06.08.2021, Leopoldina press release

> Big Tech is bending to the Indian government’s will // 18.08.2021, WIRED

> The promise and perils of artificial intelligence partnerships (ANALYSIS) // 24.06.2021, Eurasia News

> Time for AI to pull up a chair to the negotiating table // 13.07.2021, Financial Times

> The Wuhan lab leak theory is more about politics than science // 22.08.2021, The Guardian

> OSTP Request for Information to Improve Federal Scientific Integrity Policies // 02.07.2021, National Science Foundation

> Switzerland proposes Geneva as headquarters for planned International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) // 01.09.2021,

> A Rome, le pacte des vaccins // 07.09.2021, Le Temps
Les ministres de la Santé du G20 ont approuvé lundi une déclaration commune promettant notamment un accès plus équitable au vaccin à travers le monde. Le conseiller fédéral Alain Berset a apporté la voix de la Suisse

> Démocratie et transition numérique // 17.08.2021, TA-SWISS
La numérisation a le potentiel de bouleverser les processus politiques et de transformer notre démocratie. Dans ce contexte de transition, TA-SWISS appelle la population et le monde politique à s’associer activement à ces changements. S’appuyant sur trois études distinctes, la Fondation pour l’évaluation des choix technologiques a examiné divers aspects de la numérisation et de son impact sur la démocratie. Les résultats sont maintenant disponibles.


> Notre humanité doit rattraper notre technologie // 19.07.2021, EPFL
Les fruits de la recherche bénéficient aux sociétés qui les ont vus naître, c’est-à-dire les pays riches, sans atteindre une échelle plus globale, au service des plus pauvres et des plus vulnérables. Comment y remédier? Par une nouvelle approche de coopération, interdisciplinarité et entrepreneuriat que développe l’EPFL

> Why do some inventions take so long to arrive? // 06.08.2021, Financial Times

> Science must be for everyone // 16.08.2021, Scientific American
Racism and sexism are obstacles to making the scientific enterprise worthy of its public funding


> Swiss exclusion from Horizon Europe set to last at least two years, universities’ chief predicts /( 26.08.2021, Science|Business
With negotiations stalled, President Swiss universities Yves Flückiger  fears hiatus could be at least as damaging as the 2014 – 2016 ban from EU research. National schemes fail to recognise the value of collaboration and won’t fill the gap, (Photo: DR)

The world’s top 50 thinkers 2021: the winner is Jacob Hanna // 01.09.2021, Prospect
In pursuing questions about how our bodies build themselves from a fertilised egg, Palestinian biologist Jacob Hanna is searching out fundamental truths about the human condition. (Photo: DR)

> Iran appoints new atomic chief, darkening prospects for reviving nuclear pact // 31.08.2021, Science
Injecting fresh uncertainty into stalled efforts to restore the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s new president has appointed Mohammad Eslami as the nation’s top atomic official. (Photo: DR)


> The Flip Side of Free: Understanding the Economics of the Internet // MIT Press
Why “free” comes at a price: the costs of free Internet services in terms of privacy, cybersecurity, and the growing market power of technology giants. The upside of the Internet is free Wi-Fi at Starbucks, Facetime over long distances, and nearly unlimited data for downloading or streaming. The downside is that our data goes to companies that use it to make money, our financial information is exposed to hackers, and the market power of technology companies continues to increase. In The Flip Side of Free, Michael Kende shows that free Internet comes at a price. We're beginning to realize this. Our all-purpose techno-caveat is “I love my smart speaker,” but is it really tracking everything I do? listening to everything I say? Kende explains the unique economics of the Internet and the paradoxes that result. The most valuable companies in the world are now Internet companies, built on data often exchanged for free content and services. Many users know the impact of this trade-off on privacy but continue to use the services anyway. Moreover, although the Internet lowers barriers for companies to enter markets, it is hard to compete with the largest providers. We complain about companies having too much data, but developing countries without widespread Internet usage may suffer from the reverse: not enough data collection for the development of advanced services—which leads to a worsening data divide between developed and developing countries. What's the future of free? Data is the price of free service, and the new currency of the Internet age. There's nothing necessarily wrong with free, Kende says, as long as we anticipate and try to mitigate what's on the flip side.


> ​​A New Science of Consciousness // 09.09.2021, 7pm CET, organized by NewScientist
Consciousness is the great unsolved mystery in our scientific understanding of the brain. Somewhere, somehow, inscribed in the brain is everything that makes you, you. But how do we grasp what happens in the brain to turn mere electrical impulses into the vast range of perceptions, thoughts and emotions we feel from moment to moment? In this talk, Anil Seth draws on his original research and collaborations with cognitive scientists, neuroscientists, psychiatrists, brain imagers, virtual reality wizards, mathematicians and philosophers, to put forward an exhilarating new theory about how we experience the world and the self.  Seth’s revolutionary framework for consciousness encourages us to view ourselves as less apart from, and more a part of, the rest of nature, and will turn what you thought you knew about yourself on its head.


> European Climate Diplomacy Week // 27-29.09.2021
La troisième édition de la Semaine Européenne pour le Climat (European Climate Diplomacy Week), aura lieu les  27, 28 et 29 septembre, 2021, et sera co-organisée par le Service pour la Science et la Technologie et les Services Culturels du COnsulat Général de France à Atlanta, le programme Georgia Tech Global Change et 5 autres consulats européens à Atlanta (Belgique, Grande-Bretagne, Allemagne, Pays-Bas, Suisse).
Les thèmes du symposium seront les suivant:

  • 27 septembre: Systèmes Alimentaires Durables
  • 28 septembre: Climat et Santé
  • 29 septembre: Décennie des Nations Unie pour les Océans.

L’événement est ouvert au public et l’inscription est gratuite; il sera accessible à la fois en ligne et en présentiel. Pour plus d’information concernant l’inscription, l’agenda, la liste des intervenant et le RSVP, merci de consulter la page web:


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
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