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Good morning, this is Zelda, and in tech news today artificial intelligence is finding ways to improve democracy with the launch of the 2021 Applied Machine Learning Days at EPFL. Humanity is also at the heart of an innovative app.

We'll consider how the power of technology can help reduce racial disparities in health care. And I am very happy to share this newsletter with GESDA. Do not forget to read its science and diplomacy selection of the week!

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Zelda Chauvet


Today’s reason for hope

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The BASE experiment from above. Source: CERN.

CERN experiment opens up new possibilities in the search for cold dark matter. The Baryon Antibaryon Symmetry Experiment (BASE) at CERN’s Antimatter Factory has set new limits on how easily axion-like particles could turn into photons, paving the way for new experimental possibilities in the search for cold dark matter.


Science & Technology news

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Assistant Professor at the University of St Gallen and AMLD AI & Democracy co-organiser, Roy Gava.

🤖 EPFL Robert West: ‘Machine learning is becoming a technology’. The 2021 edition of the EPFL Applied Machine Learning Days was launched online yesterday and will offer a series of events and discussions throughout the year that will emphasise why machine learning is important, especially today.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

🕊️ A student-coded app helps those lost to Covid-19 or migration regain an identity. With the help of the ICRC, students from INSA engineering schools in France developed digital tools in the spring of 2020 to facilitate the traceability of bodies, from the place of their discovery to that of their burial.

Heidi.News (FR)

⚕️ New algorithms could reduce racial disparities in healthcare. Machine learning programmes trained with patient reports, rather than doctors', find problems that doctors miss - especially in Black people.


Here's what else is happening

Image of the day

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A computer-generated image representing space debris as could be seen from high Earth orbit. The two main debris fields are the ring of objects in geosynchronous Earth orbit (GEO) and the cloud of objects in low Earth orbit (LEO). Source: NASA Orbital Debris Program Office.

Five ways artificial intelligence can help space exploration. One of the biggest space challenges of the 21st century is how to tackle space debris. One approach is to avoid any possible collisions in space. In a recent study, researchers developed a method to design collision avoidance manoeuvres using machine-learning techniques. Another approach is to use the enormous computing power available on Earth to train ML models, transmit those models to the spacecraft already in orbit or on their way, and use them on board for various decisions.

The Conversation (EN)

Anticipatory reads by GESDA

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Domenic Bahmann. Source: New Scientist.

Energy stored in a grain of salt. Among all the people pointing to precise technological issues and then being able to pour billions to solve them, Elon Musk is maybe the most famous. Last week, he tweeted that “battery cell production is the fundamental rate-limiter slowing down a sustainable energy future. Very important problem.” Be sure that means the eccentric American entrepreneur is trying hard to make progress around that case and, by doing so, is dragging the whole research field with him.

In recent days, many researchers showed progress in various directions such as hydrogen storage, microbial fuel cells, and lithium-ion batteries charged with semiconductor nanoparticles or the same Li-ion energy storage tools, but brought at high temperature so that they become cheaper and safer to produce and handle. But there is another bottleneck on the horizon: the finite amount of lithium on Earth, lithium-ion batteries being ubiquitously used, from our phones or laptops to any item requiring packed and efficient energy storage. The solution to the problem might be right in front of us, in the condiment that one puts on pasta devoured to recharge one’s own body-batteries: in grains of salt (read below)!

- Olivier Dessibourg

We're running out of lithium for batteries – can we use salt instead? This might be our best bet.

NewScientist (EN)

High-frequency neuromodulation improves obsessive–compulsive behavior. Nearly one billion people affected.

Nature Medicine (EN)

Artificial intelligence researchers rank the top AI labs worldwide. How to measure that?


How science can put the sustainable development goals back on track. SDGs have been disrupted by the pandemic.

Nature (EN)

Earth observation data could represent a billion-dollar opportunity for the african continent. Read the outcomes of a new report.


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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.

Next on the agenda

28 January | Data Protection Day 2021. This conference focuses on the right to privacy at a time when surveillance and profiling tools are increasingly powerful and ubiquitous.


28 January | Twitter and Facebook make the law. But by what right? By censoring or excluding the US President of the United States from their platforms, Twitter and Facebook are assuming extraordinary power. Is this good or dangerous for democracy?

Geneva Press Club (FR)

15 February | Women in tech. This studio will help to understand the impact of the gender divide and how to close the gender divide, in order to realise the human potential of all of us.

2030 Digital Fasttrack Studios (EN)

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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