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Good morning, this is Zelda, bringing you the latest science and tech news. Today, we'll reflect on the notion of responsibility for Twitter and Facebook, and the implications of WhatsApp data sharing with lawyer Nicolas Capt. And that will lead us to ask the question of challenges in terms of digital sovereignty.

And before leaving you, we'll raise hope by playing for the planet.

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Zelda Chauvet


Today’s reason for hope

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Source: Playmob/UNDP.

Playing for the planet. How Playmob helped the UN conduct the largest climate change survey ever using the power of gaming. Jude Over, founder of the company that was instrumental in helping the UN gather the data using an innovative format.

Forbes (EN)

Science & Technology News

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Nicolas Capt. Credits: Jay Louvion, 2020.

✉️ Nicolas Capt: 'Encouraging critical thinking is more important than knowing if WhatsApp is good or bad'. The media and digital law specialist reflects on the importance of keeping a critical mind when weighing up digital information and on internet platform responsibility inside and outside the legal framework.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

#️⃣ Is a lifelong ban on Twitter and Facebook a threat to democracy? The Geneva Press club invited experts to debate the risks and implications of the Trump ban for democracy in relation to the role of social media platforms in today’s society.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

🌐 What are the challenges of digital sovereignty? One of the main points of tension is the gradual loss of Switzerland's sovereignty over digital technology in general, and over its data in particular.

Heidi.News (FR)

Here's what else is happening

Image of the day

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The facades of the Copenhagen University of Applied Sciences are made of coloured solar panels using technology from the Swiss company Kromatix. Source: Le Temps.

Swiss made coloured solar panels. No more solar panels that are only black or dark blue. These new models allow other glass shades thanks to a nanotechnological treatment. The solar panels can be installed on the walls of buildings, not just on the roofs. The power loss is 2.5 to 10 per cent compared to a standard panel, according to SwissINSO.

Le Temps (FR)

Science and diplomacy reads by GESDA

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Ruby Fressen. Source: New Scientist.

The necessity of personalised medicine, for all on the planet. Personalised medicine, also called genomic medicine, is making the headlines for some years now. The idea is to develop diagnostic tools and new treatments (including drugs but also gene therapies) based on the genome sequencing of a person through a reading of his/her DNA. The promises are great and vast, as I recently could detail it in a series of six interview-books with leaders in the field. But there is a caveat, and a major one, as the following New Scientist puts it: “While predicting a person’s risk of developing a condition based on their genome sequence remains an imperfect science, there is mounting evidence that it works far less well in people of non-European descent.” In other words, personalised medicine has so far been developed very largely by and for western countries.

In a study, Sarah Tishkoff (University of Pennsylvania) underlines that 78 per cent of patients included in genomic studies of disease up to 2018 were of European descent, 10 per cent had Asian backgrounds and just two per cent were of African descent. “That means that gene-disease associations based on these studies are unlikely to capture the full diversity of the human population. That’s a major problem”, writes New Scientist. A situation which might well exacerbate existing worldwide inequalities related to health. As is the goal of the International Common Disease Alliance, described in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine, and of which a founding member is at University of Geneva (Manolis Dermitzakis), it is therefore time to be more inclusive in genetic studies on a global level, so that they benefit people around the entire world.

- Olivier Dessibourg

Genomic medicine is deeply biased towards white people. Changing that isn’t only about justice – it could also lead to new therapies that would otherwise go undiscovered.

New Scientist (EN)

Is it time for an emergency rollout of carbon-eating machines? Their deployment requires a huge wartime-style investment.


Can an immune cell fix “de-age” the brain? Scientists have identified a key factor in mental aging.

Futurity (EN)

Cancer research needs a better map. It is time to move beyond tumour sequencing data to identify vulnerabilities in cancers.

Nature (EN)

The future of humanity in space. Dr. Peter Martinez, executive director of the Secure World Foundation (USA) talks about potential scenarios.

SpaceWatch.Global (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.

Next on the agenda

4 February | Digital Tech4Trust 3rd Roadshow in Geneva by Trust Valley. Tech4Trust by Trust Valley is the Swiss acceleration program in the field of digital trust and cybersecurity.

Tech4Trust (EN)

9 February | The Future of Boring. Making the future of sustainable mobility tangible and showcase leading efforts and projects towards a zero-emission future of transportation.

Swissnex (EN)

18 February | How industry & research infrastructures can innovate big science market. The third Big science business forum webinar with a participation from CERN.


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