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Morning all, this is Kasmira at Geneva Solutions and for today's edition, we're thrilled to have caught up with former Swiss President Micheline Calmy-Rey.

A professor at the University of Geneva with many projects on the go, Calmy-Rey is now spearheading the new Geneva-Zurich Center for Science and Diplomacy accompanied by GESDA and developed by the University of Geneva and ETH Zurich.

We talked about the future of science in conflict resolution - one where AI could play a bigger role.

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Kasmira Jefford, Geneva

26.09.2020


How AI could become the new frontier in conflict resolution


Photo article

Photo: Keystone

Twelve years ago, a brief but violent war broke out between Russia and Georgia over the breakaway territory South Ossetia, cutting off diplomatic relations between the countries and escalating tensions over the border between them. Talks brokered by Switzerland were launched in 2011 and after intense negotiations, the two sides signed a historic deal over its customs border - even if a definitive border is still long from being agreed.

What’s less known is that behind the scenes, a team of computer scientists came up with a way around the problem of a physical border by creating digital checkpoints for the control of goods. This so-called science diplomacy was key to the deal’s success, says Micheline Calmy-Rey, former Swiss President and then minister of foreign affairs who led the negotiations. And now it’s the focus of a new academic centre developed jointly by the University of Geneva (UNIGE), ETH Zurich, and accompanied by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA).

In an exclusive interview with Geneva Solutions, Calmy-Rey, a board member of GESDA and professor at UNIGE, reveals more about the launch of the Geneva-Zurich Center for Science Diplomacy - and how artificial intelligence could soon be playing a bigger role in conflict resolution.

Read the full interview here


Anticipatory reads by GESDA


The CEO of Neuralink, Elon Musk, hit the headlines some days ago when the latest neural implants developed by the firm and fitted on a pig’s brain were introduced. Recently, in a private discussion, founder of competitor Kernel, Bryan Johnson, assured me that such implants will be something ordinary in brain surgery within more or less two years!

Whether true or not, one thing is certain: the technology is here and might one day “change humanity”, as the New York Times puts it. All this, taking more broadly the convergence between AI and neurotechnology into consideration, underlines the urgency to address the ethical questions. That is what the OECD is trying to nurture with its Recommendation on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology report.

– Olivier Dessibourg, GESDA

(EN)
Photo article

Predicting pig movement based on brain signals | Neuralink

Brain-computer interfaces and the future of neurotechnology governance. Today that may sound like fodder for a science fiction movie, but this future may be closer than you think.

OECD Innovation Blog (EN)

Geoengineering is the only solution to our climate calamities. Altering the Earth’s geophysical environment is a moon shot – and it will be the only way to reverse the damage done. It’s time to take it more seriously.

WIRED (EN)

Let’s talk about quantum computing in drug discovery. Digital research chiefs at big pharma firms pool know-how and experience in a precompetitive huddle.

Chemical & Engineering News (EN)

Researchers at EPFL develop new method to print tiny, functional organs. Measuring just a few centimetres across, the mini-tissues look and function almost like their full-sized counterpart, and could allow scientists to study biological processes – and test new treatment approaches.

Technology Networks (EN)

Gene editing plants and animals could help fight climate change. Editing the genes of plants and animals could help mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture and other sectors, according to a report.

AXIOS (EN)

Will COVID-19 change our relationship with meat? Sales of plant-based meats have soared during the pandemic as customers shift diets due to growing unease about factory farming and working conditions in meat-packing plants.

Thomson Reuters Foundation (EN)

The role China's space programme plays in "soft power" and diplomacy. A study by an American think tank looks at space power competition through China’s lens.

SpaceNews (EN)

Israel – Arab peace accord fuels hope for surge in scientific collaboration. Space, water, food security and archaeology present opportunities for joint research as United Arab Emirates and Bahrain end boycott of Israel.

Nature (EN)

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This selection is proposed by the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator GESDA, working on anticipating cutting-edge science and technological advances to develop innovative and inclusive solutions for the benefit of the planet and its inhabitants.


GESDA, and the reason for anticipation


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 breakthroughs in science and technology at an unprecedented pace, sometimes hard to grasp. Anticipation is therefore key to build the future with the aim to early and fully exploit this scientific potential for the well-being and inclusive development of all. The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator has been founded in Geneva in 2019 to tackle this issue.

GESDA's ambition is first to anticipate and identify these cutting-edge science and technology advances in various domains (Quantum revolution & advanced AI, Human augmentation, Ecoregeneration and Geoengineering, Science and Diplomacy). Then, based on this panoramic scientific outlook, it will translate those potential sci&tech leaps into tools to develop effective and socially inclusive solutions to emerging challenges. Most importantly, this process will be achieved not only by scientists or technologists, but will include actors of various other professional origins and mindsets (diplomacy, philanthropy, industry, citizens, youth).


GS news is a new media project covering the world of international cooperation and development. Don’t hesitate to forward our newsletter!

Have a good day!

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