Fondation ICT 4 Peace

ICT 4 Peace Foundation

[Webinar] Human-centered AI for dangerous mental health behaviors online

Event recording

Event description

Event date: 6 July 2022, 17:00–18:30 CEST

This AI for Good Discovery event will discuss the building of human- and community-centred AI tools to handle dangerous mental health behaviours online such as suicide crisis, self-injury, and disordered eating behaviours. Dr Stevie Chancellor will expound on the technicalities of such tools and the necessary lab settings.

For more information, and to register, please visit the official page.

[Webinar] Enhancing signalling security and privacy using globally interoperable digital signatures

Event description

Event date: 16 June 2022, 15:00–17:00 CEST

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will explore the history and status quo of signalling systems and summarise ITU’s ongoing efforts in security-minded protocol standardisation to cope with potential signalling attacks on telecom operators. Signalling protocols play a cornerstone role in providing different ICT services. Nevertheless, as they were designed without security and privacy in mind, they are prone to attacks on ICT infrastructures. This webinar will cover the signalling architectures of telecommunication networks, an overview of the key signalling exchange procedures (call/SMS/USSD flows), and an outline of the vulnerabilities of existing signalling protocols. ITU-T recommendations and how they have been implemented will also be discussed.

For more information, and to register, please visit the official page.

Geneva Science-Policy Interface

Acronym: GSPI

Established: 2018

Address: Uni Mail, Bd du Pont-d’Arve 28, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland

Website: https://gspi.ch/

Stakeholder group: Academia & think tanks

The GSPI is a neutral and independent platform that aims to foster engagement between the research community and Geneva-based international policy actors around some of the most pressing global challenges (including global health, climate change, and migration). 

It works to foster science-policy ecosystems by brokering collaborations and enhancing capacities across the interface between the science, policy, and implementation communities. This includes an annual call for projects, the Impact Collaboration Programme (ICP), the production of policy briefs, as well as learning opportunities and resources to advance the professionalisation and recognition of the science-policy field of practice in Geneva and beyond.

The GSPI is based at the University of Geneva. It receives support from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the backing of leading research institutions in Switzerland and Europe.

Digital activities

As part of its activities at the interplay between science, policy, and implementation actors, the GSPI tackles a range of digital issues. With data being a centrepiece of evidence-based policies, many of the GSPI’s activities touch on digitalisation and the use of digital tools in domains such as health, migration, development, and the environment.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence

The project MapMaker, a collaboration between the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH Zurich) has enabled the development of an online visualisation tool to inform data-driven decision-making on marine biodiversity conservation at the international level.

Digital standards

Together with the Geneva Health Forum (GHF), the GSPI has established a working group including key humanitarian actors to harness knowledge and best practices around the digitisation of clinical guidelines for management of childhood illness in primary care in low and middle-income countries. In line with the efforts of the WHO, and the principles of donor alignment for digital health, the working group has developed recommendations on how digitalisation can improve the management of childhood illness. In September 2021, the results of this work were shared with experts and the public, providing a platform for discussions on the lessons learned and future trends in the field.

Emerging technologies

In 2018, the GSPI organised policy discussions on the use of drones as part of humanitarian action. The conversation centred on the practical use of drones to deliver humanitarian aid and what can be done by stakeholders such as policymakers, the private sector, and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to maximise the opportunities and reduce the risks of such technologies.

At the 2019 Digital Day, together with the University of Geneva, the GSPI organised a discussion exploring what experience and know-how Geneva-based organisations could share to empower and protect users in the context of the digital revolution.

With a number of other partners, the GSPI co-organised a discussion at the 2019 WSIS Forum on aerial data produced by drones and satellites in the context of aid and development. The session explored the interplay between international organisations, NGOs, and scientists and how they can work together to help monitor refugee settlements, provide emergency response in case of natural disasters, and scale agriculture programmes.

Data governance

The project REDEHOPE of the University of Geneva and the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) has led to the development of an online diagnostic tool to help countries identify and visualise issues in their housing data ecology, and access appropriate datasets to formulate more robust, evidence-based housing policies at the country level.

Sustainable development

In 2020–2021, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Convention (BRS) secretariat benefitted from the support of ETH Zurich to develop an online platform to identify and signal the need for evidence and information to the scientific community in the field of chemical and waste management.

A project from ICP 2021 addressed the hurdles facing policy actors in accessing and making sense of data in migration research. The project partners (the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Graduate Institute) developed an interactive digital toolkit for policy officials to support them in leveraging migration research for evidence-based policymaking. The toolkit, based on IOM’s flagship publication, the World Migration Report, was launched in June 2022.

ICP 2021 brought support to the development of interactive analytical tools providing information about all UN sanctions to inform both humanitarian practitioners and sanction policy actors on practical ways to safeguard principled humanitarian action in areas under a sanction regime. This project is a collaboration between the Graduate Institute and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).

ICP 2022 selected a collaboration between ETH Zurich and IOM that seeks to bring more effective policy expertise in the management of migration to address migrants’ needs and increase social cohesion between migrant and local communities. The collaboration will develop a toolbox to be used by IOM and its partners to facilitate the use of the Immigration Policy Lab (IPL) Integration Index, a survey tool for governments, nonprofits, and researchers to measure the integration of immigrants around the world.

Human rights principles

Also in the framework of its ICP, the GSPI has supported a collaboration between the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and OHCHR’s B-Tech project. Some of the new fast-evolving technologies, such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition technologies, and the internet of things (IoT), can have profoundly disrupting effects on sociopolitical systems and pose significant human rights challenges. This initiative provides authoritative guidance and resources for implementing the UNGPs in the technology space and placing international human rights law (IHRL) at the centre of regulatory and policy frameworks. Aimed at policymakers, the technology sector, and all those working on the regulation of AI, the policy research carried out in this project (see resulting Working Paper, 2021) brings fresh insights into how current initiatives on the regulation of AI technologies could incorporate the protection and respect for human rights. Published by the Geneva Academy, the paper also calls on states to adopt a ‘smart mix’ of mandatory and voluntary measures to support their implementation and how this applies to the AI sector. This GSPI-supported science-policy process will formally feed the development of a ‘UN Guiding Principles check’ tool (working title), which will provide states with a roadmap to assess their regulatory efforts across different policy domains relevant to technology.

Digital tools

Social media channels

LinkedIn @genevaspi

Twitter @GenevaSPI

International Electrotechnical Commission

Acronym: IEC

Established: 1906

Address: 3 rue de Varembé, 1211 Geneva 20 , Switzerland

Website: https://www.iec.ch/

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

The IEC is the world leader in preparing international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies. A global, not-for-profit membership organisation, the IEC provides a neutral and independent institutional framework to over 170 countries, coordinating the work of more than 20,000 experts. We administer four IEC Conformity Assessment Systems, representing the largest working multilateral agreement based on the one-time testing of products globally. The members of each system certify that devices, systems, installations, services, and people perform as required.

IEC International Standards represent a global consensus of state-of-the-art know-how and expertise. Together with conformity assessment, they are foundational for international trade.

IEC Standards incorporate the needs of many stakeholders in every participating country and form the basis for testing and certification. Every member country and all its stakeholders represented through the IEC National Committees has one vote and a say in what goes into an IEC International Standard.

Our work is used to verify the safety, performance, and interoperability of electric and electronic devices and systems such as mobile phones, refrigerators, office and medical equipment, or electricity generation. It also helps accelerate digitisation, artificial intelligence (AI), or virtual reality applications, protects information technology (IT) and critical infrastructure systems from cyberattacks and increases the safety of people and the environment.

Digital activities 

The IEC works to ensure that its activities have a global reach in order to meet all the challenges of digital transformation worldwide. The organisation covers an array of digital policy issues.

Digital policy issues

Artificial intelligence and the internet of things

AI applications are driving digital transformation across diverse industries, including energy, healthcare, smart manufacturing, transport, and other strategic sectors that rely on IEC Standards and Conformity Assessment Systems. AI technologies allow insights and analytics that go far beyond the capabilities of legacy analytic systems.

For example, the digital transformation of the grid enables increased automation, making it more efficient and able to integrate fluctuating renewable energy sources seamlessly. IEC Standards pave the way for the use of a variety of digital technologies relating to intelligent energy. They deal with issues such as integrating renewable energies within the electrical network but also increased automatisation.

The IEC’s work in the area of AI takes a three-pronged approach. IEC experts focus on sector-specific needs (vertical standards) and conformity assessment, while the joint IEC and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) technical committee on AI, JTC1/SC 42, brings together technology experts, as well as ethicists, lawyers, social scientists, and others to develop generic and foundational standards (horizontal standards).

In addition, IEC Safety Standards are an essential element of the framework for AI applications in power utilities and smart manufacturing. IEC Conformity Assessment Systems complete the process by ensuring the standards are properly implemented.

SC 42 addresses some concerns about the use and application of AI technologies. For example, data quality standards for ML and analytics are crucial for helping to ensure that applied technologies produce useful insights and eliminate faulty features.

Governance standards in AI and the business process framework for big data analytics address how the technologies can be governed and overseen from a management perspective. International standards in the areas of trustworthiness, ethics, and societal concerns will ensure responsible deployment.

The joint IEC and ISO technical committee also develop foundational standards for the IoT. Among other things, SC 41 standards promote interoperability, as well as architecture and a common vocabulary for the IoT.

Hardware

The IEC develops standards for many of the technologies that support digital transformation. Sensors, cloud, and edge computing are examples.

Advances in data acquisition systems are driving the growth of big data and AI use cases. The IEC prepares standards relating to semiconductor devices, including sensors.

Sensors can be certified under the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components (IECQ), one of the four IEC Conformity Assessment Systems.

Cloud computing and its technologies have also supported the increase of AI applications. The joint IEC and ISO technical committee prepares standards for cloud computing, including distributed platforms and edge devices, which are close to users and data collection points. The publications cover key requirements relating to data storage and recovery.

Building trust

International Standards play an important role in increasing trust in AI and help support public and private decision-making, not least because they are developed by a broad range of stakeholders. This helps to ensure that the IEC’s work strikes the right balance between the desire to deploy AI and other new technologies rapidly and the need to study their ethical implications.

The IEC has been working with a wide range of international, regional, and national organisations to develop new ways to bring stakeholders together to address the challenges of AI. These include the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the standards development organisations, ISO, and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

More than 500 participants followed the AI with Trust conference, in-person and online, to hear different stakeholder perspectives on the interplay between legislation, standards and conformity assessment. They followed use-case sessions on healthcare, sensor technology, and collaborative robots, and heard distinguished experts exchange ideas on how they could interoperate more efficiently to build trust in AI. The conference in Geneva was the first milestone of the AI with Trust initiative.

The IEC is also a founding member of the Open Community for Ethics in Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (OCEANIS). OCEANIS brings together standardisation organisations from around the world to enhance awareness of the role of standards in facilitating innovation and addressing issues related to ethics and values.

Read more

e-tech

IEC and ISO Work on Artificial Intelligence

AI for the Last Mile

Computational Approaches for AI Systems

–  IEC Blog

Digital Transformation

–  Video

Ian Oppermann (AI with Trust)

AI with Trust conference interviews AI Governance

Network security and critical infrastructure

The IEC develops cybersecurity standards and conformity assessments for IT and operational technology (OT). One of the biggest challenges today is that cybersecurity is often understood only in terms of IT, which leaves critical infrastructure, such as power utilities, transport systems, manufacturing plants and hospitals, vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Cyberattacks on IT and OT systems often have different consequences. The effects of cyberattacks on IT are generally economical, while cyberattacks on critical infrastructure can impact the environment, damage equipment, or even threaten public health and lives.

When implementing a cybersecurity strategy, it is essential to consider the different priorities of cyber-physical and IT systems. The IEC provides relevant and specific guidance via two of the world’s best-known cybersecurity standards: IEC 62443 for cyber-physical systems and ISO/IEC 27001 for IT systems.

Both take a risk-based approach to cybersecurity, which is based on the concept that it is neither efficient nor sustainable to try to protect all assets in equal measure. Instead, users must identify what is most valuable and requires the greatest protection and identify vulnerabilities.

Conformity assessment provides further security by ensuring that the standards are implemented correctly: IECEE certification for IEC 62443 and IECQ for ISO/IEC 27001.

ISO/IEC 27001 for IT

IT security focuses equally on protecting the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of data – the so-called CIA triad. Confidentiality is of paramount importance and information security management systems, such as the one described in ISO/IEC 27001, are designed to protect sensitive data, such as personally identifiable information (PII), intellectual property (IP), or credit card numbers, for example.

Implementing the information security management system (ISMS) described in ISO/IEC 27001 means embedding information security continuity in business continuity management systems. Organisations are shown how to plan and monitor the use of resources to identify attacks earlier and take steps more quickly to mitigate the initial impact.

IEC 62443 for OT

In cyber-physical systems, where IT and OT converge, the goal is to protect safety, integrity, availability, and confidentiality (SIAC). Industrial control and automation systems (ICAS) run in a loop to check continually that everything is functioning correctly.

The IEC 62443 series was developed because IT cybersecurity measures are not always appropriate for ICAS. ICAS are found in an ever-expanding range of domains and industries, including critical infrastructure, such as energy generation, water management, and the healthcare sector.

ICAS must run continuously to check that each component in an operational system is functioning correctly. Compared to IT systems, they have different performance and availability requirements and equipment lifetime.

Conformity assessment: IECEE

Many organisations are applying for the IEC System of Conformity Assessment Schemes for Electrotechnical Equipment and Components (IECEE) conformity assessment certification to verify that the requirements of IEC 62443 have been met.

IECEE provides a framework for assessments in line with IEC 62443, which specifies requirements for security capabilities, whether technical (security mechanisms) or process (human procedures) related. Successful recipients receive the IECEE industrial cybersecurity capability certificate of conformity.

Conformity assessment: IECQ

While certification to ISO/IEC 27001 has existed since the standard was published in 2013, it is only in recent years that the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components (IECQ) has set up a true single standardised way of assessing and certifying an ISMS to ISO/IEC 27001.

International standards such as IEC 62443 and ISO/IEC 27001 are based on industry best practices and reached by consensus. Conformity assessment confirms that they have been implemented correctly to ensure a safe and secure digital society.

Read more

Video

Digital tools

IEC has developed a number of online tools and services designed to help everyone with their daily activities.

Social media channels

Facebook @InternationalElectrotechnicalCommission

LinkedIn @IECStandards

Pinterest @IECStandards

X @IECStandards

YouTube @IECstandards

Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development

Acronym: BCSD

Established: 2010

Address: Place des Nations, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland

Website: https://www.broadbandcommission.org/Pages/default.aspx

Stakeholder group: International and regional organisations

The Broadband Commission is a high-level public-private partnership fostering digital cooperation and developing actionable recommendations for achieving universal meaningful connectivity as a means of advancing progress on the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Established in 2010 by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), HE President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Mr Carlos Slim Helú of Mexico, its mission is to boost the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and expand broadband access to every country. Today, the Commission is composed of more than 50 Commissioners who represent a cross-cutting group of top CEOs and industry leaders; senior policymakers and government representatives; and experts from international agencies, academia, and organisations concerned with development.

The Commission acts as a UN advocacy engine for the implementation of the UN Secretary-General’s Roadmap for Digital Cooperation, leveraging the strength of its membership and collective expertise to advocate for meaningful, safe, secure, and sustainable broadband communications services that reflect human and children’s rights.

Digital activities

The Commission develops policy recommendations and thought leadership focused on the use of broadband connectivity to accelerate progress towards achieving the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and universal and meaningful connectivity. To mobilise efforts to bring the life-changing benefits of digital transformation to everyone, the Broadband Commission puts broadband connectivity at the forefront of global policy discussions.

The Commission’s efforts are detailed in our flagship annual collaborative State of Broadband Report and Year in Review, and throughout the year, take the form of thematic Working Groups and their publications, regular meetings, and advocacy activities on the margins of other key events such as SDG Digital, GSMA’s MWC, HLPF, WSIS, and UNGA. 

The Broadband Commission outlines its seven objectives in its 2025 Broadband Advocacy Targets. These targets reflect ambitious and aspirational goals and function as a policy and programmatic guide for national and international action in sustainable and inclusive broadband development.

Each year, the Commission hosts Working Groups to dive deeper into prominent issues affecting broadband access, affordability, and use. Working Groups are proposed and led by Commissioners, with the support of external experts. The culmination of the discussion and research of these groups is a consensus-based collaborative report which provides policy recommendations for achieving the issues examined, in alignment with the Commission’s targets and elements of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Digital policy issues

Telecommunications infrastructure

The Commission promotes the adoption of best practices and policies that enable the deployment of broadband networks at the national level,  especially among developing countries. We engage in advocacy activities aimed at demonstrating that broadband networks are fundamental to modern societies and the achievement of the UN sustainable development goals (SDGs). Each year, the Broadband Commission publishes a State of Broadband Report, providing a global overview of the current state of broadband network access and affordability and use, an update on the Commission’s 7 Advocacy Targets, and insights/impact stories from Commissioners on multistakeholder actions for accelerating the achievement of universal meaningful connectivity. 

The Commission has launched a number of Working Groups focused on connectivity infrastructure and financing, including the World-Bank-led Digital Infrastructure Moonshot for Africa and the Working Group on 21st Century Financing Models for Sustainable Broadband Development. These initiatives aim to provide governments and policymakers, and the private sector and development partners, with a set of holistic policy recommendations to accelerate broadband connectivity, close digital gaps, and foster innovative financing and investment strategies to achieve the Commission’s targets for broadband and to provide universal and affordable access to the internet​. The Working Group on School Connectivity, also identified a set of core principles to help governments and other interested stakeholders to develop more holistic school connectivity plans.

Access

When advocating for the rollout of broadband infrastructure and bridging the digital divide, the Commission underlines the increasing importance of internet access and adoption as an enabler of inclusive sustainable growth and development.

We pay particular attention to aspects related to infrastructure deployment in developing countries, inclusive and relevant digital content creation and education, connectivity for small businesses, and access to broadband/internet-enabled devices. 

Recent broadband reports covering these topics include the Commission’s Working Groups on Connectivity for MSMEs, Smartphone Access, and Data for Learning. These Working Groups aim to advance progress on the Commission’s 2025 Advocacy Targets on micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), universal connectivity and digital skills development. 

The Broadband Commission has also developed the Broadband Transforming Lives campaign to further illustrate the global use of broadband in everyday life, and its potential to bridge the gender digital divide, empower youth and small businesses, and improve public services like healthcare and government services.

Sustainable development

The Commission advocates for actions to be taken by all relevant stakeholders with the aim of closing the digital divide, a crucial step towards achieving the SDGs. The Commission’s annual State of Broadband Report looks at the progress made in implementing broadband networks in various countries around the world, which it regards as an essential element in addressing the digital divide. In addition, the Working Group on Smartphone Access examines the smartphone access gap and provides strategies for achieving universal smartphone ownership so that all communities may benefit from access to digital services.

In support of SDG Digital, an event hosted by ITU and UNDP with the aim of bringing digital SDG solutions to scale, Broadband Commissioners offered insights into the various use cases for digital technologies to accelerate progress towards achieving the SDGs, highlighting the crucial importance that everyone plays in harnessing the power of digital for a brighter future.

Interdisciplinary approaches: Digital cooperate

The work of the Commission contributes to the UN Secretary General’s Global Digital Compact, which outlines shared principles for an ‘open, free and secure digital future for all’. The Commission prepared a contribution to the Global Digital Compact, in which we call for the Compact to be anchored in the vision of a connected, inclusive, and sustainable world and expresses the need to ensure consistency between existing multilateral and multistakeholder forums and mechanisms, avoiding duplication and ensuring that efforts complement, build on, and reinforce existing frameworks and successful activities, which have proven to be impactful.

Through our various Working Group initiatives and the advocacy of our Commissioners, the Broadband Commission is an exemplary example of SDG 17: ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development’ in action. The Commission’s policy recommendations advocate implicitly for global digital cooperation, providing considerations for all sectors to enhance collaboration to reach the goal of universal meaningful connectivity.  

Digital tools and initiatives

Resources

The Broadband Commission’s website, social media, and various online channels feature landmark reports, which are available for free:

The Broadband Commission has also been instrumental in launching the following global initiatives and is an active participant in:

Social media channels

Facebook @broadbandcommission

Flickr @Broadband Commission

LinkedIn @broadband-commission

X @UNBBCom

YouTube @Broadband Commission

Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator

Acronym: GESDA

Established: 2013

Address: c/o Fondation Campus Biotech Geneva, Chemin des Mines 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Website: https://gesda.global/

Stakeholder group: NGOs and associations

GESDA was established to explore how future science breakthroughs can most efficiently be translated into and used as tools for the benefit of humanity. GESDA interlinks the digital revolution with other disruptive fields of science and technology, and with the diplomatic world.

GESDA’s work is guided by three fundamental questions:

  • Who are we, as humans? What does it mean to be human in the era of robots, gene editing, and augmented reality?
  • How are we all going to live together? How can technologies reduce inequality and foster inclusive development?
  • How can we ensure the well-being of humankind and the sustainable future of our planet? How can we supply the world’s population with the necessary food and energy and regenerate our planet?

GESDA brings together an outstanding community of academic, diplomacy, and impact leaders to reflect and act on how to use the future to build the present. Its work is structured around three flagship instruments:

  • GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar®

This digital platform – updated continuously and released in paper copy on a yearly basis – maps impactful emerging topics currently researched in science laboratories across the world and anticipated breakthroughs at 5, 10, and 25 years. Curated by the academic community, it provides descriptions of over 300 breakthrough predictions relevant to the global community.

Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit accelerates the science diplomacy nexus. Bringing science to the table of multilateralism, it engages diplomacy leaders to examine the impact of future breakthroughs on people, society, and the planet, as well as their implications for future global governance and geopolitics.

GESDA’s instrument to co-construct science diplomacy solutions with relevant transdisciplinary and cross-community task forces. In 2022, GESDA has eight solutions pathways and four initiatives in the making. These propositions are communicated at the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit.

GESDA structures its anticipation, acceleration, and translation work across five thematic platforms addressing potential future science and technology advances, as well as their related challenges:

  • Quantum revolution and advanced artificial intelligence (AI), with for instance the challenge of privacy.
  • Human augmentation, with for instance the challenge of advanced gene editing or neuroenhancement.
  • Eco-regeneration and geo-engineering,  with for instance the challenges of synthetic biology, decarbonisation, and regenerative agriculture.
  • Science and diplomacy, with for instance the challenge of future world geopolitics, including multilateral conflict modelling, forecasting, and prevention.
  • Knowledge foundations with for instance the challenge of the future of work and labour, including rising inequalities and inclusive growth.

From the end of 2022 onwards, the GESDA Board of Directors will choose and fund (in partnership with other foundations) a limited number of large-scale, high-impact solutions and initiatives aiming to:

  • Help the world population benefit more rapidly from the advances of science and technology as stated by Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
  • Contribute to inclusive human development by reducing poverty and inequality while increasing the number of developing and emerging economies, in line with Agenda 2030.
  • Leverage the role of Geneva and Switzerland as a hub of multilateralism capable of anticipating cutting-edge science and technologies, as well as translating them into effective tools for

GESDA was created as a global independent foundation and a public partnership in 2019, for an initial start-up phase of three years. The founders – the Swiss Federal Council and the Canton of Geneva with the City of Geneva-decided in March 2022 to prolong the Foundation for 10 years.

The ultimate objective remains to strengthen the contribution of Switzerland to multilateralism as the host country of the UN in Geneva.

Digital activities

Advanced computational tools, such as AI and high-performance computing, are reshaping all fields of science.

GESDA’s specificity is that it focuses on ‘science anticipation’. Its ambition is to comprehend the future digital disruptions and their implications for other fields of science, geopolitics, and mankind.

GESDA’s headquarters are located at the Campus Biotech in Geneva.

Digital policy issues

In 2022, GESDA’S Science Breakthrough Radar considered 28 interdisciplinary and interrelated scientific emerging topics. In addition to the anticipated breakthrough, the Radar presents an overview of the sentiment and the actions of civil society on these topics.

Platform 1: Quantum Revolution & Advanced AI

Advanced artificial intelligence

AI, already a world-changing technology, is set to grow in power and influence. It is clear that our current systems realise only a small part of AI’s potential, and as it grows more powerful and flexible it will affect us ever more profoundly. Anticipating and directing how that growth will occur is a vital part of the research effort in this area: we must shape advanced AI to be reliable, transparent, and equitable, but that may require a deep reappraisal of how these technologies

Quantum technologies

The effort to process information in entirely novel ways using the unique properties of subatomic particles is making significant progress. Quantum technologies are already impacting sensing, imaging, and metrology. Quantum computing and communications are also drawing closer to meaningful real-world applications. The potential exists for quantum technologies to radically alter medicine, finance, and online commerce, and to accelerate scientific discovery.

Brain-inspired computing

Computing researchers are looking to harness biological innovations honed through millions of years of evolution. If they can achieve even a fraction of the energy efficiency and processing power of the human brain, for example, we will have unleashed an extraordinary new era of computing. Brain-inspired computing seeks to take neuroscience’s understanding of the brain’s architectures and processes and use them to create autonomous, low energy information processors that offer the potential for radical new computing applications.

Biological computing

Living matter uses more than just brains to process information. The biochemistry of cells, bacteria, and other biological systems and organisms is a form of information processing that has vast potential for technological exploitation. Biological computing seeks to harness, and sometimes re-engineer, biological information processing to perform tasks such as environmental sensing, pollution remediation, and medical diagnosis. These new thinking devices may be very different to today’s conventional computers, requiring us to rethink how we can use them to best effect.

Augmented reality

The speedup of digital communications,  combined with developments in hardware and software, means that we can now receive real-time data and sensory experiences that enhance our normal interaction with our environment. Such overlays of augmented reality are already being used to train people in virtual work environments and to improve certain leisure activities, such as online gaming. As technology progresses, the hardware such as glasses that provide a view of information about our surroundings and the objects within them will become ever more ubiquitous. Augmented reality is likely to change the nature of our daily interactions with other people and with our surroundings, and even the way we switch between the real world and virtual environments such as the metaverse.

Collective intelligence

Human intelligence is already remarkable. However, the potential to combine the intelligence of individuals with accumulated wisdom and experience, online repositories of learning, and the powers of technologies such as AI, offers the chance to move to a new level. The field of collective intelligence is truly multidisciplinary, involving psychology, economics, computer science, and a range of other fields. It is far from mature, but has enormous promise. If we can harness human capabilities, collective intelligence has the potential to help solve a wide range of societal challenges, from politics to business to conservation, in local and global organisations.

Platform 2: Human augmentation

Cognitive enhancement

Through deep-brain, temporal lobe, or cortical stimulation, but also non-invasive stimulation techniques, neuroscientists aim at restoring brain functions affected by common neuro-degenerative diseases. Combining the learning from these interventions with advanced AI technologies, the mid-to-long-term goal is to close the loop between brain activity and computers in order to augment the cognitive capacities of human beings. While the human brain is not always able to take the morally optimal decision (e.g. the ’trolley problem’, but also AI-assisted policing or an AI-augmented judiciary), the forthcoming augmentation – or even fusion – between computed and ‘brain’ intelligence will allow the enhancement of human decision-making on moral and ethical issues, with the risk of brain hacking via computational systems.

Human applications of genetic engineering

Genome editing is already improving diagnostics and treatments for cancer and potentially many other diseases of ageing. Such research into human applications of genetic engineering is also pointing the way to a future in which bodies can be engineered to be free of cancer, HIV, and other infectious diseases. Genome editing even promises to make such changes heritable, meaning future generations will not require preventive therapies. Small-molecule drugs and other interventions now in clinical trials promise to significantly reduce the burden of disease on society, radically altering what it means to age. Advances in AI and the availability of genetic data, speed up the discovery of new therapeutic approaches but also the identification of complex genetic pathways.

Consciousness augmentation

Lab research suggests that it is possible to expand consciousness beyond the limits imposed by human senses, standard cognitive capacity, and injury or disease. Such consciousness augmentation could help us better coexist with the species with which we share the planet, improve our understanding of how humans can educate themselves, and give us new ways to diagnose and assist people suffering from debilitating disorders of consciousness. Digital technologies, combined with advances in neuro-sciences, are key to providing a means to connect brain analysis with brain stimulation or providing virtual environments to expand consciousness.

Future therapeutics

Although innovations in medicine have been radically extending the human lifespan for more than a century now, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are largely preventable, but still end a significant number of lives unnecessarily early. However, a range of new treatment options are coming into view, and these future therapeutics could have a great deal to offer medical practitioners. Advances in information technology, biotechnology, and a basic understanding of how human biology operates are enabling the use of electrical signals, AI-driven data analysis, cell therapies, and even the mechanisms of the immune system to improve the maintenance of good health, the diagnosis of disease, and the results of medical interventions.

Platform 3: Eco-regeneration and geo-engineering

World simulation

The burgeoning field of world simulation is experiencing rapid developments. The increasing convergence of big data, advanced computer modelling, and AI will allow us to model complex systems, from societies to whole ecosystems, with ever greater predictive power. This will prove an invaluable guide in policymaking.

Ocean stewardship

Our relationships to the oceans must change. We urgently need to understand them better, and to help repair their ecosystems where possible. There are pathways opening up that will make this happen. We can deploy the emerging technology of autonomous sensors to gather relevant data, for example, and continue to explore the vast biodiversity of the ocean and the myriad cold adapted organisms rapidly disappearing from the planet’s retreating glaciers. As our understanding of their complex, interdependent networks grows, so will our ability to perform proper ocean stewardship and find solutions to the problems they are facing.

Infectious diseases

Although humanity has made great progress in reducing the impact of infectious disease, there is still plenty to do. The COVID-19 pandemic made it clear that new diseases are emerging all the time, and that our interconnectedness provide sample opportunity for them to spread quickly, with devastating results. The problem of vector-borne diseases such as malaria and Zika remains unsolved, highlighting the importance of seeing disease as emerging from human actions in, and interactions with, our environment. Medical technologies, such as vaccines, are only part of the solution; we also need to use multidisciplinary research to garner a deeper understanding of the ways in which infectious diseases arise and emerge. Digital technologies provide the means to develop powerful monitoring and containment strategies.

Platform 4: Science and diplomacy

Science-based diplomacy

It is now almost impossible to separate diplomacy from the influence of science and technology. Computational modelling, analysis, and AI are set to play important roles in international relations, especially when it comes to interactions between groups of people. Researchers are already compiling vast databases of historical interactions between actors in various international forums. Mining these databases produces an instant picture of an actor’s past statements and positions and helps to find common ground in negotiations. These databases are the bedrock of science-based diplomacy, a strategy that is likely to become more powerful, more comprehensive, and more widely used. Indeed, negotiation engineering aims to depoliticise these discussions by automating certain aspects of the process.

Digital technologies and conflicts

The increasing power and availability of digital technologies are fundamentally changing the nature of conflict in the twenty-first century. The interactions of digital technology and conflict are an urgent subject of research. The war in Ukraine, for example, is being hailed as the first hybrid war, a concept long talked about in policy circles in which conventional battlefield tactics are combined with cyberattacks and information warfare to achieve military goals. Perhaps the most impactful use of digital technology in the Ukraine conflict has been the exploitation of commercial satellite imagery for military and propaganda purposes by both state and non-state actors. Surveillance technology is also rewriting the nature of modern conflicts, and there is growing concern about the increasing convergence of biosecurity and cybersecurity.

Democracy-affirming technologies

Much has been written about the potential of technologies like social media and data analytics to spread disinformation and polarise society, thus weakening democracy, but there is now a countervailing movement. A Summit for Democracy hosted by the USA in December 2021 highlighted these threats in an attempt to counter them, the White House Office of Science and Technology announced a new grand challenge competition designed to spur the development of democracy-affirming technologies. Further advances come from innovations in fact-checking websites and tools that have been designed to help people better assess the validity of information online; digital identity technologies, which are emerging as a critical tool for helping democracy transition into the digital age; and technological means to evade attempts at censorship.

Platform 5: Knowledge foundations

Complex system science

Our world is hugely susceptible to the powerful winds of change unleashed by economic, social, and political forces that interact in intricate feedback loops. In the past, scientists have struggled to understand and model these forces. But in recent years our ability to gather and process data has enabled computer models and simulations of our world on a wide variety of scales with increasing predictive power. While this approach is in its infancy, it raises the prospect of more stable economies, more fruitful and productive negotiations, and more peaceful societies.

Future of education

Much of the progress in all fields of research over the next quarter-century will depend on the knowledge we gain, exploit, and pass on to our children. But the need for innovations in education goes much wider. We need to find ways to exploit educational technology for individual, lifelong learning and we need to better understand how learning happens in the brain. Education is the lifeblood of humanity, and improving its delivery is central to all of our futures.

Future economics

The global effort to make humanity’s existence sustainable, with societies, cities, and citizens that are resilient to inevitable change, is vital. Most countries’ and most global companies’ strategic futures now include policies that engender sustainable future economics. The move to renewable power has considerable momentum. Less well developed are attempts to create circular economies that exploit Earth’s resources while leaving its capital unchanged. The impact of intelligent machines on the way we work will also become a driver of social, economic, and political change.

Synthetic biology

Breakthroughs in our understanding of biology and our ability to manipulate it are now making it possible to redesign nature. Driven by breakthroughs in our ability to read and re-engineer the genetic code, synthetic biology is on the cusp of transforming agriculture, medicine, and manufacturing; a central driver for its inclusion as a new Radar topic. There are already around 400 scientifically feasible use cases for synthetic biology that could have a direct economic impact of $4 trillion. Schmidt Future recently released a report outlining how to build a new bioeconomy. Based on these advances, the convergence of advances in AI and in fundamental biology, combined with lowering costs in DNA synthesis will power this new revolution.

Future of meetings

Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipation Summit (annual event in October) – all sessions accessible online.

Science and Diplomacy Week (annual event in May) – most sessions accessible online.

GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar(provides a platform for online contributions).

GESDA regularly contributes to relevant global meetings across the world.

One of two annual board of directors’ meetings is held online.

Social media channels

Facebook @GESDAglobal

LinkedIn @gesda-global

Twitter @GESDAglobal

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