Soft power, hard choices: Science diplomacy and the race for solutions

Article by Stephan Kuster and Marga Gual Soler: “…Global challenges demand that we build consensus for action. But reaching agreement on how – and even if – science and technology should be applied, for the aggregate benefit of all, is complex, and increasingly so.

Science and technology are tightly intertwined with fast-changing economic, geopolitical, and ideological agendas. That pace of change complicates, and sometimes deviates, the discussions and decisions that could unlock the positive global impact of scientific advances.

Therefore, anticipation is key. Understanding the societal, economic, and geopolitical consequences of emerging and possible new technologies before they are deployed is critical. Just recently, for example, artificial intelligence (AI) labs have been urged by a large number of researchers and leading industry figures to pause the training of powerful AI systems, given the inherent risks to society and humanity’s existence.

Indeed, the rapid pace of scientific development calls for more effective global governance when it comes to emerging technology. That in turn requires better anticipatory tools and new mechanisms to embed the science community as key stakeholder and influencer in this work.

The Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) was created with those goals in mind. GESDA identifies the most significant science breakthroughs in the next five, 10, and 25 years. It assesses those advances with the potential to most profoundly to impact people, society, and the planet. It then brings together scientific and policy leaders from around the world to devise the diplomatic envelopes and approaches needed to embrace these advances, while minimizing downsides risks of unintended consequences…(More)”.