Memia 2020.29: Squinting at the far end of the Covid tunnel🔭// radical progressive⏩// climate risks assessed🔥//AI-powered government?🤔// deepfake startup camp🏕️// the last light🕯️

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Hi / Kia ora,

Welcome to another Memia newsletter written by me, Ben Reid. Each issue I pull together a weekly scan across emerging tech and unfolding futures, as viewed from my corner of the world, Aotearoa New Zealand. I hope you enjoy reading it.

The most clicked link in the last issue (~7% of openers) was the footage of demonstrators chanting “F**k the algorithm” in the UK. Quintessential 2020.

Squinting at the far end of the Covid tunnel🔭

As Aucklanders near 3 weeks in Level 3 lockdown(🙏🙏🙏 again Tāmaki Makaurau folks), it’s still anything but clear how the pandemic will pan out globally long term, regardless of domestic quarantine arrangements here in AoNZ. Four items that caught my eye this week:

Radical progressive⏩

Given the near-absolute policy vacuum surrounding the now-delayed election here in AoNZ, here’s a refreshing blast of thinking from the other side of the world: Chris Yiu of the Tony Blair Institute lays out a manifesto for a radical progressive policy agenda:

“…In short: the institutions of the 20th century are fundamentally mismatched to the challenges of the 21st century…to prevail, progressives must instead return to being champions of progress. There are two important dividing lines on this journey of reinvention:

  • The first is between those who recognise that how we handle the technology revolution is the central question of our time, and those who do not.

  • The second is between those who believe that, properly managed, it can help us build a better and more equal society, and those who see it as a threat to be slowed or stopped.

This is why the new progressive agenda must be centred on the tech revolution.”

He organises the agenda into three top level components:

  • Guaranteeing a bright future for all

    • Predictive health for all

    • Personalised education for all

    • Universal digital inclusion

    • Net-zero emissions

  • Unlocking economic opportunity and innovation

    • Reimagined social insurance

    • New global standards

    • Charter sectors

    • An ARPA in every country

  • Renewing and remaking our institutions

    • Shared government technology

    • Platforms for public services

    • Networked institutions

    • New global alliances

@Labour / @National: Pretty simple to copy and paste to fill in the whitespace...?😉 (Yeah right…)

(Also referenced is this piece: We Need a New Science of Progress: Humanity needs to get better at knowing how to get better by Stripe CEO Patrick Collison and Economist Tyler Cowen in The Atlantic.)

Back here in AoNZ, outside the mainstream political and economic arena there *are* a few progressive ideas circulating:

  • Comprehensive Stuff article by John McCrone: A kinder, greener, fairer economics to replace neoliberalism? speaking with thought leaders covering Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), Universal Basic Income (UBI), Green New Deal (GND) and tech deflation (no acronym🤐).

    • In particular, I enjoyed his conversation with reformed investment banker and former Christchurch City Councillor Raf Manji, now an independent strategy and risk consultant:

…New Zealand didn’t seem to understand that public debt was money creation to fuel national growth. Manji says post-GFC, world lending was at rock bottom interest rates. The [Christchurch earthquakes] rebuild had room to be ambitious. Yet New Zealand’s political parties were locked into an austerity contest of who could spend the least and so get the country into “surplus”. That is, ensure there was no capital being created to drive growth…

…The New Zealand Government ought to have a standing annual infrastructure spending target. Say a hard-wired 2 per cent increase in roads, sewers, energy projects and the other public goods that are the collective basis of economic growth…Many would complain this was the return of “big government”, Manji says. But it would establish an apolitical pipeline of obvious projects, like Auckland’s light rail, to be ticked off, preventing them becoming a never-ending political football.

Climate risks assessed🔥

The Ministry for the Environment Manatū Mō Te Taiao published the first national climate change risk assessment for New Zealand, which will be used by the Government to develop a national adaptation plan over the next two years.

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(Source: Pete Bernhardt)

[Weak] signals

Memia’s regular collection of technology signals from the ever-evolving future:

  • Gartner released their 2020 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies. I enjoy these annual braindumps as they always introduce new terms which appear momentarily tangible but are guaranteed to be subsumed inside broader technology stacks by next year (My 2020 picks for this: “Digital Twin of the Person”, “Low cost single board computers at the Edge” and “Data Fabric”).

    • Interesting also that “Health Passport” - which has always seemed a mirage on the distant horizon has been rapidly accelerated, likely due to Covid-19:

  • 🏕️Deepfake startup camp: Startup incubator Betaworks introduce Synthetic Camp, an accelerator programme for synthetic media startups…Edgy, d’ya think?


Mind expanding

Infinite Detail review: The dystopia that awaits when the ...

Hidden gems

  • Recent interstellar visitor Oumuamua continues to fascinate:

  • …and finally: 🕯️The Last Light, failed AR company Magic Leap’s in-house magnum opus, thought to be lost after nearly everyone who made it was laid off a few months ago - was surprisingly released last week:

As always, 🙏 appreciation to everyone who takes the time to get in touch with links and feedback, it’s great to hear from you!

…And a special request since you’ve read this far: please take a moment to share this email with your network in AoNZ and around the 🌎🌍🌏. Thank you!

Cheers / Ngā mihi