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Hello, this is Kasmira, and today we’re talking about how we’ve become both increasingly dependent on, and distrustful of digital technology amid data privacy fears – especially where health and apps to help track the spread of Covid-19 are concerned.

So how do we deal with this “techlash” and build back digital trust? Graduate Institute professor and internet governance expert Michael Kende shares his thoughts below.

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Kasmira Jefford


On our radar

Photo article

Swiss Covid contact tracing app struggled to gain widespread adoption, in large part due to privacy concerns, despite no gathering of personal or location data to a central locationby the app. (Keystone/Laurent Gillieron)

📱🔓 Let’s talk about our digital trust issues. Contact tracing apps and other digital health technologies aimed at keeping Covid in check have been met with slow adoption and distrust in countries worldwide. People are both increasingly dependent and uneasy with the growing presence of technology in their daily lives. This so-called “techlash” will become a bigger issue in the future if we don’t build digital trust, argues Michael Kende, a professor at the Graduate Institute in Geneva, in this opinion piece ahead of a conference gathering companies and industry experts to discuss the issue on Friday.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Here's what else is happening

Science and Diplomacy reads by GESDA

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Projects around the world are cataloguing neurons such as these cells from the mouse cortex.Credit: X. Wang et al./Cell Reports

One of the biggest scientific mysteries of our time is how the brain works. How can this organ weighing 1.4 kg and using only 20 watts of power (as much as a light bulb) give rise to intelligence and consciousness? Scientists around the world are only beginning to decipher its complexity, starting with identifying the types and roles of the roughly 1,000 different cells that the brain entails, as a brilliant collection of articles explains in Nature (see below).

These huge efforts made me think of another maybe endless quest: the identification of all biological species on Earth, of which only two million have been described so far. Biologists estimate that overall there might still be 10 million unknown species on the planet, many tens of which disappear every day because of human activities.This albeit the fact that, just like the hundreds of neurons that form the brain, they are certainly all a piece of the immense puzzle that is the global biological ecosystem, when not – more simply talking – of the food chain. This week, the city of Kunming, China, is hosting a United Nations conference to foster biodiversity conservation, with good news: “China is set to take advantage of an international stage to show it’s serious about protecting the planet’s threatened species and ecosystem”, as an article in Science puts it. In other words, the concert of nations will maybe start to act as one to protect biodiversity.

Similarly, a convergence of continental if not national big-brain projects, called the International Brain Initiative and created four years ago, shows that only by counting on the efforts of all will we be able, one day, to understand the brain. All in all, in two fields as disparate as neuroscience and biodiversity conservation, it seems obvious that only a global collaboration will succeed, made possible through the noble idea of increasing our common knowledge through science.

Olivier Dessibourg


How the world’s biggest brain maps could transform neuroscience. What have these huge projects revealed about how our cognitive organ works?

Nature (EN)

Supersized artificial intelligences: Are truly intelligent machines just a matter of scale?

NewScientist (EN)

Americans need a bill of rights for an AI-powered world. Towards principles to guard against powerful technologies – with input from the public.


'Antithetical to science': when deep-sea research meets mining interests.

Mongabay (EN)

The genetic lottery: why DNA matters for social equality.

Skeptic Magazine (podcast) (EN)

This asteroid may be the shard of a dead protoplanet – and have more metal than all the reserves on Earth.

Singularity Hub (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.

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

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