Memia 2020.12: 🔲🔲Post-Covid shapes🔲🔲//💰what's wrong with how we used to make money?💰// debt will eat itself // elimination↗️emancipation // watching the watchers
Hubble birthday to you
Hi / Kia ora
Level 3 is here! (With apologies to readers outside Aotearoa - and congratulations 🥂 to all inside - but coffee rarely tastes this good).☕
Another week, another Memia roundup of strategic foresight, new tech and interesting links from me, Ben Reid - viewed from my 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 link in the last issue (~9% of openers) was Stephen Wolfram’s 25,000 word “overview” of the Wolfram Physics Project. I haven’t quite worked up the stamina to go back over it one more time 🤓.
Covid-19 - how it spread
How did the world get to >3 million Covid-19 cases and 211,000 deaths? Nextstrain is an open-source project to harness the potential of publicly available pathogen genome data. Check out their up to date animated visualizations - data tells a story. 3 million cases => less than 0.04% of the global population infected so far.😧
Shapes of post-Covid
Lots of post-coronavirus scenario modelling happening in the last few weeks:
Global consulting firm BCG distils the basic shape of recovery for many countries into three phases: Flatten, Fight and Future.
However in Aotearoa, Australia and a few other select states worldwide who are able to achieve effective “elimination” of the virus (…it’s still unclear exactly what that means…), the aspiration is that the path to recovery will be quicker, with fewer speedbumps and a happier ending: Elimination, Economic Reimagination and Emancipation:
Factors enabling the economic recovery - and reimagination - may well include the establishment of an Australia-Aotearoa Coronavirus Exclusion Bubble; high end tourists, returning overseas students (…and coronavirus refugees…) willing to pay for and endure quarantine; the substantial Kiwi diaspora returning home bringing their international contact networks with them; a Universal Basic Income; as well as the more conventional government infrastructure and environmental projects which are front-and-centre of the political narrative right now.
Yes, Emancipation arrives IF and only IF a vaccine or treatment eventuates…but I think we can safely kick that can down the road, for now).
🔲🔲🔲🔲 Future scenarios come in imaginatively-titled fours, I have discovered. Australian futurist Ross Dawson, himself no stranger to the magic futuregazing quadrant 😉, compiles 5 insightful sets of scenarios, pretty much all framed as 2x2 grids:
Deloitte: “The passing storm”, “Good company”, “Lone wolves”, “Sunrise in the east”
Journal for Futures Studies: “Star Trek”, “New humanity”, “Orbanisation” (clever), “Hyper-capitalism”
Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity: “State capitalism”, “Barbarism”, “State socialism”, “Mutual aid”
South African scenario planner Clem Sunter: “Much ado about nothing”, “The Camel’s Straw”, “Spain again” and “Tightrope”
…and finally, Center for Strategic & International Studies: “Rapid recovery”, “Rollercoaster”, “Decline and catastrophe”. [What, only three?!?]
Some innovation on the futures-as-quadrant format required, I think.
Speaking of innovation, here are 11 Bold (Covid-Triggered) Policy Moves from around the world.
And former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair took part in a “Thinkin” session with independent news trailblazers Tortoise Media. Among a broad range of topics discussed, he pointed to Africa’s forthcoming Covid-19 battle:
“If African economies freeze, food supply chains will stop…they will lose more people to hunger than to Covid-19 if economies lock down.”
This prediction is backed up by the World Food Program, who estimate that the number of people facing acute hunger could double to 265 million by the end of this year. Some very big rocks and very hard places for the world to navigate in 2020 and beyond. How can NZ help?
What’s wrong with how we used to make money?
I have long been a fanboy of British business strategist Simon Wardley, creator of Wardley Maps, a deceptively simple yet powerful visual mapping technique for identifying innovation opportunities and imminent disruption in value chains.
In this Twitter thread he articulates why:
“…there is a desperate rush [from some] to put the old economy back to work before it changes too much. That seems to be the real fear. The economy itself can adapt.”
Read the whole thread, but the two key highlights:
Here’s to the smart money.
Watching the watchers
The debate about contact-tracing vs. citizen surveillance continues to simmer:
The recent decision to move down to Level 3 hung in the balance due to a report on the MoH’s lack of needed capacity to track and trace Covid cases. The government has committed NZ$55M to bolstering the contact tracing system, leading to this:
Lawyer Matt Bartlett writes in Newsroom that Covid-19 mass surveillance is terrifying for the future.
Auckland University’s Andrew Chen quotes a Horizon Research poll showing 73% support for "police and health authorities using data from their own mobile phone to help track and trace those who have come in contact with people who have COVID".
Australia launched its Bluetooth-based COVIDSafe app this week after announcing that it will be a criminal offence to use any app data for anything other than contact tracing. (There are however technical issues, particularly with power consumption).
Meanwhile the whole world is waiting for Google and Apple to properly build the functionality into Android and iOS so that issues (including battery life…) are addressed. ETA May.
Investor Rowan Simpson sorta nails it:
Debt will eat itself
That is all.
Some technological signals from our near and far futures:
AI firm Primer, founded by Kiwi Sean Gourley, has deployed its tech to publish the Primer Covid Weekly - summarising over 1646 new Covid-related research papers and the conversations around them, using advanced NLP algorithms. 🤯
Researchers Find an Algorithm to Stabilize Brain-Computer Interfaces.
(…If you were worried about contact tracing apps, the whole concept of privacy will need to change fundamentally when BCI tech really gets out there: basically there will be a "digital twin" model of your internal mental state somewhere out in the cloud... with at least "read" API rights for 3rd party software... more challenging is when Google/Apple/Microsoft/Amazon/Tencent/AliBaba start requesting "write" access...!)
Luna Mining: USGS releases first-ever comprehensive geologic map of the Moon (Time for a Kiwi joint venture between RocketLab and mining software geniuses Seequent to take on the BHPs of this world on the next world?)
Happening in Aotearoa this week:
NZVIF is now NZGCP and the $300M Elevate Fund is now operational, with two new international independents on the investment committee: Danny Lee (Blue Pool Capital) and Matt Ocko (DCVC). First commitments are planned by June.
StatsNZ DataVentures released a report: Understanding Aotearoa and our communities during COVID-19 - early data
The liquidation of hacked NZ exchange Cryptopia leads to a world first cryptoasset property ruling:
“…[cryptocurrencies […] are a species of intangible personal property and [are] clearly an identifiable thing of value. Without question they are capable of being the subject matter of a trust."
Australian 'backdoor law' forces a cloud rethink at New Zealand's Parliament. Too right it does.
Traceable is an example of spotting an innovation opportunity and rapidly executing - yes, *privacy…*, but better than signing in with [shared!] pen and paper at pubs and cafes once we get to Level 2, eh?
This week was the 30th Anniversary of Hubble Telescope being launched. Celebrate with an image Hubble took on your birthday.
The director’s cut of Wim Wenders’ classic Until the End of the World has been released and it’s 5 hours long!
And finally this🤣:
The usual big 🙏 to those readers who continue to send in links and feedback, it’s appreciated! If you enjoy Memia, please take the time to share with a friend in 🇳🇿 or around the 🌎🌍🌏.
More next week.
Regards / Ngā mihi