Memia 2020.09: #Covid19nz turning point? // you (plural) are being watched // seeing through the fog // proof-of-human🧍 // thought-to-text // signalling-as-a-service

And #staythef**khome

Hi / Kia ora

Welcome to Memia, a weekly roundup of new tech, strategy, foresight and interesting links curated by me, Ben Reid - all with a view from my (self-isolating) corner of the world, Aotearoa New Zealand. Please feel free to forward this email - and you can sign up here if you haven’t already.

The most clicked links in the last issue (~5% of openers each) were: The Guardian: Coronavirus epidemic 'far from over' in Asia-Pacific, WHO warns, the Rotterdam Philharmonic performing at home and MIT Technology Review’s Covid-19 spread animation.

Unprecedented (that word again)

Pandemic-driven change continues to reverberate around the world. In the US where the virus is now sweeping uncontrolled throughout the country, the unemployment rates are, quite truly, *unprecedented*:

Kia kaha to everyone around the world who is affected.

A few weeks ago I wrote it’s only money. Bill Gates has announced that his Foundation is going all Manhattan Project on fixing the pandemic, funding the construction of factories for seven coronavirus vaccine candidates even though at most two will be used: 🤯

"It'll be a few billion dollars we'll waste on manufacturing for the constructs that don't get picked because something else is better…But a few billion in this, the situation we're in, where there's trillions of dollars ... being lost economically, it is worth it."

- Bill Gates

And here in NZ it’s *definitely* only money: *debt hibernation* is now a thing: the govt is introducing emergency legislation to provide “safe harbour” for directors of businesses facing financial insolvency. Claire Evans from law firm Lane Neave has written a helpful explainer. Thinking more broadly: why is financial solvency (which, let’s face it is arguably just imaginary numbers on a page…) so elevated from other concerns? What if during BAU directors risked prosecution for presiding over a business with net carbon emissions greater than zero? Or for increasing inequality in remuneration for their workers? Some fundamental Companies Act regulatory levers are there just waiting to be pulled after this all “blows over”…

You (plural) are being watched

Google released Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports for the world showing who has(n’t) been adhering to lockdown measures. We are a compliant nation, it seems:

(Source: Google)

But the argument about using technology for contact tracing continues: Andrew Chen lays out the issues here and Tom Barraclough writes how to develop digital contact tracing for New Zealand. Plus ankle bracelets are being actively considered for quarantine. This debate has plenty more legs yet.

Seeing through the fog

Cautiously, there are signs that New Zealand could be at the turning point in controlling Covid-19 outbreak. Yesterday there were more new recoveries than new cases for the first time:

I spent my Sunday afternoon (…pretty much every day in lockdown merges into the next, right…?) doing some first-pass modelling: Post-Covid-19 - some "axes of uncertainty" scenarios for New Zealand Inc.

Some other foresight links:

[Weak] Signals

A few signals from near and far future:


The Kiwi tech sector continues to be oh so quiet. A few bright spots of news:

  • Online training specialists Redseed have published a free online course in partnership with registered Clinical Psychologist Graeme Clarke: Managing Stress & Anxiety in Times of Crisis - tools to help manage mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. Well worth it.

  • Telemedicine is experiencing a boom. Tend is a new digital primary healthcare service - a mobile app that makes doctor's visits as easy as logging into a (hopefully secure) video call. 

Lockdown humour

It’s a fertile time for some very funny Covid-19 memes currently. My favourites from the last week (I expect this will become a regular feature, eh…):

And Boma New Zealand founder Kaila Colbin has written a charming bedtime story for adults during Covid-19: #staythefuckhome

Plus a couple of #toptips for Zoom backgrounds:

Hidden gems

If you appreciate sculpture and statues, there are some incredible examples in this thread on Twitter:

Delighted that Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan have returned for one more Trip film The Trip to Greece. (Sneak peek here). (I fear that never again will a full Air NZ flight hear me guffaw from the other end of the plane…)🤣🤣🤣

Special effects circa 1898:

And finally, Wellington colleague Ed Strafford spotted this civic-minded bear. A strangely hypnotic moment.

The usual big 🙏 to those readers who sent in links and feedback to share in the newsletter - greatly appreciated. If you enjoy Memia, please take the time to share with a friend in 🇳🇿 or around the 🌎🌍🌏.

More next week as usual.

Regards / Ngā mihi