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

25 July-21 August 2020

A GESDA product curated by Olivier Dessibourg


> How technology is increasingly becoming a tool of geopolitical power // 20.08.2020, MIT Technology Review
In the last few decades, the received wisdom among global elites has been that technology tends to make the world flatter, smaller, more open, and more equal, in the opening essay of our latest print issue. This now seems increasingly false, or at least simplistic. Countries are vying for dominance in technologies that could give them a strategic advantage: communications, energy, AI, surveillance, agricultural tech, cybersecurity, military tech… and now, amidst a global pandemic, medicine and manufacturing. The urge for nations to amass technological prowess and use it as an instrument of geopolitical power is what we mean by technonationalism.

(©MIT Technology Review cover)


> The future of food from the sea // 19.08.2020, Nature
Global food demand is rising, and serious questions remain about whether supply can increase sustainably. Land-based expansion is possible but may exacerbate climate change and biodiversity loss, and compromise the delivery of other ecosystem services. As food from the sea represents only 17% of the current production of edible meat, the authors ask how much food we can expect the ocean to sustainably produce by 2050. Estimations show that food from the sea could increase by 21–44 million tonnes by 2050, a 36–74% increase compared to current yields. This represents 12–25% of the estimated increase in all meat needed to feed 9.8 billion people by 2050. Increases in all three sectors are likely, but are most pronounced for mariculture. Whether these production potentials are realized sustainably will depend on factors such as policy reforms, technological innovation and the extent of future shifts in demand.

Also read this summary article in Axios: More seafood on the menu by 2050 


> A radical new model of the brain illuminates its wiring // 17.08.2020, WIRED
A new discipline called « Network neuroscience » could revolutionize how we understand the brain—and  change our approach to neurological and psychiatric disorders. Scientists armed with network neuroscience may be able to predict who will develop a particular disease, understand the brain processes underlying its symptoms, and design better treatments for it. “The overwhelming amount of evidence is saying that if you want to understand brain function, symptoms, brain disease, that the fundamental unit of how the brain operates is not a brain region but a brain circuit,” says Michael Fox, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

(Illustration: Sam Whitney for WIRED)


Platform 1: Quantum revolution and advanced AI
Artificial intelligence

> Too many AI researchers think real-world problems are not relevant (Op-Ed by Hannah Kerner, U of Maryland) // 18.08.2020, MIT Technology Review

A new neural network could help computers code themselves // 29.07.2020, MIT Technology Review

> A new brain-inspired learning method for AI saves memory and energy // 27.07.2020, SingularityHub
Based on an article in Nature Communications

> Startup and academics, including AI expert Yoshua Bengio, find path to powerful analog AI // 30.07.2020, IEEE Spectrum


> New algorithm paves the way towards error-free quantum computing // 14.08.2020, SingularityHub
Based on an article in Nature Physics

Machine learning enables completely automatic tuning of a quantum device faster than human experts // 19.08.2020, Nature Communications

Quantum mechanics is immune to the butterfly effect: That could help with the design of quantum computers //15.08.2020, The Economist

Pourquoi l'enseignement de l'informatique quantique se généralise avant ses applications // 30.07.2020,

Pour un écosystème de l’informatique quantique (Op-Ed)// 26.07.2020, Medium

White House plans to boost AI, quantum funding by 30% // 14.08.2020, Wall Street Journal
Read the WhiteHouse report here.

Qubit to get ahead: Germany is racing to catch up with the quantum revolution // 04.08.2020, Science | Business

Scientists from the Munich Center for Quantum Science and Technology working on a Quantum Simulator based on ultra-cold atoms in optical lattices (photo: Jan Greune | MPQ)

Platform 2: Human augmentation

Neurosciences and "cyborgs"

> The space between our heads (ESSAY by Mark Dingemanse, Radboud University) // 04.08.2020, Aeon/Psyche
Brain-to-brain interfaces promise to bypass language. But do we really want access to one another’s unmediated thoughts?

Vers les prothèses de cerveau : quand neurones artificiels et naturels dialoguent (Op-Ed)// 23.07.2020, The Conversation

Cyborg” technology could enable new diagnostics, merger of humans and AI // 17.08.2020,

New pen-and-ink method draws health sensors directly on skin // 18.08.2020, Scientific American

Last call to control the Internet of Bodies // 13.08.2020, Geneva.Solutions

A pulse of hope in the fight against Alzheimer’s // 04.08.2020, PNAS

Artificial Intelligence tool lays groundwork for autism early diagnosis and intervention // 11.08.2020, Technology Networks
Based on an article in Nature Medicine

Mitochondria may hold keys to anxiety and mental health // 10.08.2020, QuantaMagazine

Expanding the brain researcher’s toolkit // 07.08.2020, Science


Secret to tardigrades' toughness revealed by supercomputer simulation // 20.08.2020, NewScientist

> The secret to a long, healthy life is in the genes of the oldest humans alive // 10.08.2020, SingularityHub
Based on an article in Nature Metabolism

> Ces apprentis-sorciers en quête de vie éternelle // 27.07.2020, Sciences&Avenir


ENCODE expanded // 30.07.2020, Nature News and views
The third phase of the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project has generated the most comprehensive catalogue yet of the functional elements that regulate our genes.
About these articles in Nature: Expanded encyclopaedias of DNA elements in the human and mouse genomes and Landscape of cohesin-mediated chromatin loops in the human genome and Perspective on ENCODE

A boy with muscular dystrophy was headed for a wheelchair. Then gene therapy arrived: one year after, he is fine, healthier and stronger // 27.07.2020, NPR

Scientists use gene-hacking to seemingly cure herpes in mice // 18.08.2020, Futurism

In a shocking decision, FDA rejects BioMarin’s gene therapy for hemophilia // 19.08.2020, STAT+

CRISPR co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna on the gene editor's pandemic push // 06.08.2020, Axios

New understanding of CRISPR-Cas9 tool could improve genome editing // 30.07.2020, Innovative Genomics Institute

A large-scale binding and functional map of human RNA-binding proteins // 29.07.2020, Nature

The first gene-edited squid in history is a biological breakthrough // 11.08.2020, OneZero/Medium
Based on this article in Current Biology: Highly efficient knockout of a squid pigmentation gene 

(Copyright: Cell/Current Biology)

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geoengineering


Five thermal energy grand challenges for decarbonization // 10.08.2020, Nature Energy
Roughly 90% of the world’s energy use today involves generation or manipulation of heat over a wide range of temperatures. Here, we note five key applications of research in thermal energy that could help make significant progress towards mitigating climate change at the necessary scale and urgency.
Explenatory article in Futurism: « MIT professor: I fear imminent human extinction »

‘Electric mud’ teems with new, mysterious bacteria // 19.08.2020, Science

Red bricks can store energy just like batteries // 14.08.2020, Washington University in St-Louis press release
Based on an article in Nature Communications 

Scientists find simple method to synthesise materials for energy of the future (Pervoskite) // 17.08.2020, SputnikNews

Smaller, cheaper reactor aims to revive nuclear industry, but design problems raise safety concerns // 18.08.2020, Science

Comment la Suisse devient le pays modèle de l’économie de l’hydrogène // 11.08.2020,

Comment l’éolien flottant tente de se faire une place en mer // 17.08.2020, Le Monde

Daten fressen Erde auf // 12.08.2020, FAZ


Chimeric plants - the best of both worlds // 07.08.2020, Science

Florida is releasing almost a billion gene-hacked mosquitoes // 20.08.2020, Futurism

Biotechnology could change the cattle industry. Will It succeed? // 16.08.2020, SingularityHub

Climate and environment

Qui va sauver la mer Rouge? // 15.08.2020, Le Temps
Prônant la «diplomatie scientifique», la Suisse s’était engagée aux côtés de l’EPFL pour encourager une étude internationale sur les coraux. Mais en mer Rouge, la tempête gronde tandis qu’au large du Yémen un pétrolier menace de sombrer.

Donald Trump ouvre des territoires protégés de l’Alaska à l’exploration pétrolière // 17.08.2020, LeMonde
En réalité, cette "décision" est bien plus (géo)politique que certaines caricatures qui en sont faites. Et Donald Trump n’y est pas forcément pour beaucoup… Explication de l’expert de l’Arctique Mikaa Mered // 18.08.2020, Twitter

A secret hidden in centuries-old mud reveals a new way to save polluted rivers // 18.08.2020, Science

Can we rely on tropical forests to stop runaway climate change? // 12.08.2020, NewScientist

A Norwegian startup is turning dry deserts into fertile cropland // 19.08.2020, SingularityHub

Was wir gegen die Plastikflut tun können // 19.08.2020, FAZ
Smartes Plastik // 19.08.2020, FAZ
An organisation collecting plastic gets traction from a major Geneva bank // 20.08.2020, Geneva.Solutions

Version 2.0 of the Ocean Decade Implementation Plan submitted for presentation to the United Nations General Assembly // 04.08.2020, UN
With involvement of TaraOcean Foundation

Verdufte, Heuschrecke! // 15.08.2020, TagesAnzeiger
Biologen haben einen Botenstoff gefunden, der helfen könnte, Plagen abzuwenden und die Tiere mit ihren eigenen Waffen zu schlagen.

Averting hunger in sub-Saharan Africa requires data and synthesis // 06.08.2020, Nature

Entre protection et convoitises, les enjeux géopolitiques contrariés de l'Antarctique // 17.08.2020,

La Suisse augmente sa contribution au Fonds vert pour le climat, à hauteur de 150 millions de francs // 19.08.2020, press release

La « croissance verte » est un mythe // 27.08.2020, VICE

How marine bacteria influence cloud formation // 17.08.2020, C&EN
Ocean-in-a-bottle experiments illuminate the chemical interplay between marine microbes, pollution, and climate


The Space Force unveils 'Spacepower,' its plan to conquer space // 11.08.2020, Gizmodo

The new ‘Gold Rush in space’ // 07.08.2020, Wall Street Journal
Russian immigrant Mikhail Kokorich talks about America’s edge in the new era of private exploration, and his own plans for a water-fueled space transport.

Satellite warfare: an arms race is brewing in orbit // 15.08.2020, The Economist
Experts want to clarify how the laws of war on Earth apply beyond it.

The FCC has approved Amazon's plan for its Kuiper satellite constellation. Here's what that means // 20.08.2020,

(Copyright: ESA)

Platform 4: Science and Diplomacy

Leaders need to look into the future for skills to beat crisis // 31.07.2020, Forbes
Featuring Isabelle Chappuis, executive director of the Futures Lab at HEC Lausanne.

> How does scientific advice lead to government policy at the best of times, and the worst? (PODCAST) // 11.08.2020, BBC

> At a Crossroads: Reimagining science, engineering,and medicine — and its practitioners (Op-Ed) // 06.08.2020, PNAS

> « Nous devons apprendre à voir Internet comme un acteur politique » // 10.08.2020, LeMonde
La psychologue Sherry Turkle, spécialiste du Web, estime que la pandémie, malgré des initiatives numériques désintéressées, n’a pas fait disparaître le risque que nous soyons manipulés par des technologies qui cherchent à capter notre attention.

> Les réseaux sociaux minent la démocratie // 19.08.2020, Courrier International

> How emerging tech raises the risk of nuclear war // 05.08.2020, Axios

> Nuclear weapons: arms-control efforts need China // 06.08.2020, Nature
With this Editorial: Researchers: help free the world of nuclear weapons

> Science policy for scientists: A simple task for great effect (Op-Ed)// 13.08.2020, PNAS 

> « Les ONG internationales apparaissent aujourd’hui confrontées à un risque majeur de paralysie » // 19.08.2020, Le Monde

> Valentin Zellweger: «Paradoxalement, le Covid-19 a renforcé la Genève internationale» // 06.08.2020, LeTemps

> A Council of Democracies can save multilateralism // 18.08.2020, ForeignAffairs

> Ethik ersetzt keine erfolgreichen Produkte // 17.08.2020, FAZ
Auch der Bundespräsident legt leider nahe, Deutschlands digitale Herausforderung sei vornehmlich eine ethische. Dabei hapert es eher woanders.

> Multinationales suisses en zone arctique / Suisse en Arctique: entre recherche et diplomatie // 18.08.2020, La Liberté

(Copyright: Olivier Dessibourg)


> La philanthropie, partie prenante en faveur d’une société décarbonée // 09.08.2020, Le Temps

> Onze solutions africaines pour le monde d’après // (Exploration, en onze épisodes)

COVID-19 Special section

> La course au vaccin Covid-19 est devenue la mère des batailles géopolitiques // 18.08.2020,

> Russia’s rapid COVID-19 vaccine approval draws intense criticism from some – and offers to collaborate from others // 12.08.2020, Health Policy Watch

> China’s coronavirus vaccines are leaping ahead // 06.08.2020, Nature

> It’s ethical to test promising coronavirus vaccines against less-promising ones (Op-Ed by Marc Lipsitch)// 11.08.2020, PNAS

> Petit précis de géopolitique des vaccins et des médicaments // 11.08.2020, LePoint

> How the pandemic might play out in 2021 and beyond // 06.08.2020, Nature

> Post-Corona-Report: wie geht es ab 2021 weiter // 19.08.2020, Diplomatic Council
Die Digitalwirtschaft und das Gesundheitswesen gehören zu den Gewinnern der Pandemie, die Immobilienwirtschaft und der Reisesektor zu den Verlierern. Dies geht aus einer detaillierten Branchenbewertung für die Zeit nach der Coronakrise hervor, den die UN-Denkfabrik Diplomatic Council veröffentlich hat. Der 51-seitige „Post Corona Report 2020er“ ist verfügbar.

> Comment les épidémies peuvent bouleverser le monde // 27.07.2020, LePoint
Pour Walter Scheidel, professeur à Stanford, l'Histoire nous enseigne que les pandémies ont pu aller jusqu'à déstabiliser certains États.


Sabine Süsstrunk nommée présidente du Conseil suisse de la science // 12.08.2020, press release (Photo: DR)

> Antonio Guterres plant neues Digital-Gremium: wird Leuthard UNO-Gesandte? // 14.08.2020, Blick

> Doris Leuthard pourrait être la première envoyée de l'ONU pour la technologie // 17.08.2020, ICTJournal (Photo: Wikkicommons)

> Konrad Steffen, prophète du réchauffement climatique porté disparu dans son paradis blanc du Groenland // 11.08.2020, (Photo: Olivier Dessibourg)


> Geneva steps onto the stage as an urban laboratory for ecological change // 25.07.2020, Geneva.Solutions

> Scientific versus public debates: A PNAS case study (EDITORIAL) // 04.08.2020, PNAS

> 'Cocktail receptions on Zoom are sad.' United Nations diplomacy in the age of Covid-19 // 28.07.2020, CNN

> European Citizen Science Association conference // 5-11.09.2020

> Les salles de réunion virtuelles d'Iobeya profitent du télétravail // 18.08.2020, Le Figaro


> Futures festival // 25-26.08.2020, presented by the American Chemical Society
This inaugural C&EN's Futures Festival, presented by the American Chemical Society, is a forward-looking forum featuring the people, ideas, and discoveries that will shape the future of science. The event will take place over the course of two days, and is entirely free to attend.

> A conversation with 23andMe // 25.08.2020, 7pm CET, by STAT
Conversation with Anne Wojcicki, CEO and co-founder of 23andMe, and Joyce Tung, VP of Research at 23andMe. They'll sit down with STAT San Francisco correspondent Rebecca Robbins to talk about the company's latest research and how it is being used to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

Have a very nice and fruitful week! :-)

Humanity is facing more than ever global challenges (with regards, e.g., to the COVID-19 crisis), putting people and the planet under stress and in great uncertainty. Simultaneously, the world is experiencing breakthrough in science and technology at an unprecedented, sometimes hard to grasp, pace. Anticipation in therefore key to build the future with the aim to fully exploit this scientific potential for the well-being and inclusive development of all. GESDA Foundation's ambition is first to anticipate and identify these cutting-edge science and technology advances and then, based on them, develop effective and socially inclusive solutions to emerging challenges by including actors of various professional origins and mindsets (science, diplomacy, philanthropy, industry, citizens, youth).
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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