Memia 2020.16: 🧮DAOtearoa //⚙️⚙️2-speed government //🦠covid🟩green&🟥red zones // future of work =👓VR

Robo sheepdog trials

Hi / Kia ora

Welcome to Memia, a weekly cross-disciplinary blend of foresight, strategy and emerging tech - with added flavouring from Aotearoa New Zealand - written by me, Ben Reid. Please feel free to share - and you can sign up here if you haven’t already.

The most clicked link in the last issue (~8% of openers) was the sneak peak of Unreal Engine 5.

🧮DAOtearoa

An interesting experiment has started over at http://nzdao.org/ hatched by AoNZ technologists Mark Pascall and James Waugh:

“Can we create a sustainable and scalable decentralised organisation/community that has human happiness and agility baked into its DNA? A purpose driven entity that efficiently achieves its goals through the use of independent agents driven by incentive mechanisms”

This conversation kicked off on a recent conference call which talked through the opportunities to create AoNZ-based digital organisations / communities leveraging principles of Teal management, Holacracy and based on a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) model. Video recording here (~45mins at 1.5X speed):

The concept of DAOs dates back at least to Daniel Larimer’s proposal for a "Decentralized Organized Company" in 2013 - and has echoes from SciFi author Charles Stross’ 2005 novel Accelerando:

“[By the 2070s]…capitalism [has been] rendered obsolete by a bunch of superior deterministic resource allocation algorithms collectively known as Economics 2.0.

(Still love that book).

DAOs look to leverage Token Economics for incentivisation of members:

(Source: Lou Kerner, 2017)

(The slope of enlightenment has a long way to go back up on that one, eh…)

Ignoring the ever-so-slightly faith based mechanics, DAO exponents see a model which addresses the shortcomings of traditional organisational governance including:

  • Increasing wealth/status/power inequality

  • Not optimised for human potential or happiness (“wellbeing”)

  • Hierarchy-driven inertia

  • Environmentally extractive

As Callaghan Innovation CEO Vic Crone rightly calls out in the recording above, AoNZ’s current models of governance, particularly corporate governance, are outdated and actively holding back many organisations from achieving their potential. While there is much to be said for the principles propagated by the IoD and others - the reality is that the function of “governance” is still practised as a small number of [frequently homogenous] individuals attending infrequent in-person board meetings - virtually indistinguishable from 100 years ago bar a few steps towards gender diversity. Ripe for disruption?

DAO models - still legally and technically emergent - promise better decisions, greater agility and better-targeted outcomes. If you’re interested in getting involved in Aotearoa’s first DAO experiment, sign up here.

⚙️⚙️2-speed government

So back down to the ground, this week National MPs elected their new party leader Todd Muller in a rather polite coup. Now we can look forward to months of mainstream political media coverage focused on the personality dynamics of a few high-profile politicians from now until this year’s general election in September.

In all seriousness, AoNZ’s unicameral, MMP, 3-year-electoral-cycle, democratic constitutional monarchy works pretty well and has previously been held up as the best-designed political system in the world.

Could be better though?

Just focusing in on the 3-year electoral cycle:

“The attraction of a shorter electoral cycle is that it allows voters to dismiss truly awful governments quickly and it makes politicians more responsive to public opinion…The major disadvantage of a three-year term is also its biggest advantage: It makes politicians keenly aware of public opinion. No sooner has a government been elected than it is facing re-election. It takes a brave government in those circumstances to take hard decisions and to avoid the temptation to prime the pumps.” - Dom Post Editorial, 2013

Yes, the 3-year term drives political responsiveness - but also short-termism. Compare and contrast with China’s 100-year-plan. Searching for “long term targets” on govt.nz gives:

Yes it’s true that there are some long term targets which span multiple electoral cycles: SmokeFree Aotearoa 2025, Predator Free 2050 , Net Zero 2050… But even if there is there is a collated list I’ve missed, they aren’t framed as part of a unified vision for a New Zealand future.

It appears that AoNZ’s short electoral cycles correlate with low levels of investment in long term foresight and strategy - inside or outside of government. AoNZ used to have a Commission for the Future - disbanded in 1992. The recently convened Digital Council of New Zealand Aotearoa goes some way towards this but looks underresourced for the scale of the task. Outside of government, nowadays there is only a small number of independent strategic think tanks in Aotearoa, including: The McGuinness Institute, The New Zealand Initiative, the University of Auckland-affiliated Koi Tū: The Centre for Informed Futures and Pure Advantage.

Thinking aloud, instead of another think tank…is there a model for a 2-speed rather than a 2-house parliament? Keep the current 3-year electoral system for issues that impact citizens on a timeframe of, say, less than 6 years - but then introduce more modern democratic mechanisms for longer term policy and direction setting. (Perhaps some kind of automated liquid democracy or wisdom-of-crowds voting system - mitigating the (overstated?) risks of e-voting). Would this enable a cost-effective focus on complex long term issues which need slow, consensus decisions informed by data, not personalities.

(And what would a Constitution look like to accommodate this?)

Our futures🔮

Indirectly related and deserving of its own subheading: check this out from UK innovation think tank Nesta - Our Futures: A game to imagine new ways to involve people in thinking about the future. (Interested in a game? Tap me up).

Covid-free zone…

I’ve mostly taken a break from reading about Covid this week - the immediate strategic landscape for Aotearoa has been settling into focus with each consecutive day of zero new cases. As of yesterday, AoNZ is among 48 countries that endcoronavirus.org classifies as “Beating Covid-19”:

…🦠Covid🟩green&🟥red zones

The pandemic’s impact on countries, cities and where people might choose to live has attracted a lot of commentary recently:

“The coronavirus pandemic has divided the world into “red zones,” which failed to effectively test, quarantine and treat Covid-19 patients, and “green zones,” which performed well under the circumstances and flattened the curve.”

  • Locally, Waikato University’s Iain White discusses the aspiration for the ‘20 Minute City’ of the future.

  • And will commercial real estate bounce back?

Future of work =👓VR

Last week I covered the new Oculus Quest Passthrough VR/AR mode: Facebook have been busy since:

  • First they teased their vision of the “future of work” in VR…

Seeing how much business VR has come on in the last few months, it may not be long until a critical mass of information workers are *more* productive in a VR environment than a physical office+workstation setup. Given the radical WFH transformation driven by the pandemic, another reason to ditch the physical office? ($1000 headset vs $000s of real estate+travel costs per employee?)

[Weak] signals

Tech signals from our near and far future:

Rollcall

Saying and doing around AoNZ this week:

  • More brainy stuff from Brainbox Institute’s Tom Barraclough and Curtis Barnes: A rules-as-code case study from New Zealand examines ACC legislation.

  • Congratulations to Stuff CEO Sinead Boucher leading a management buyout of the *media empire* for exactly $1. The plan is to include staff ownership - DAO opportunity perhaps? Whatever, news media business models are unclear.

  • This Thursday the McGuinness Institute hosts a webinar on The Importance of Climate-Related Financial Disclosures featuring the UN’s Mark Carney (former Bank of England Governor), Adrian Orr (Reserve Bank of AoNZ Governor) and Minister for Climate Change James Shaw.

Hidden gems

The usual weekly miscellany:

  • Ever wondered how the RSA encryption algorithm works?:

The usual big 🙏 to everyone who has got in touch with links and feedback, it’s appreciated as always! If you enjoy Memia, please take the time to share with a friend in AoNZ or around the 🌎🌍🌏.

More next week.

Regards / Ngā mihi

Ben