Memia 2020.31: Coronatech🦠// Tiktok and the sorting hat🕺💃🎩// waste not (ever again)🗑️🛑// 3d printed not-quite-steak🥩🤢// burning man in VR🔥🧍👓
Modern arborists use LASERS!🌳🌟
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Hi / Kia ora,
The most clicked link in the last issue (~21% of openers) was the video of Facebook 2020 Research: Photorealistic Avatars & Full Body Tracking.🤯
Alongside driving global economic and societal change at the new accelerated “2020 pace”, Covid-19 is also speeding up related tech innovations. Just three examples:
Rapid genomic tracing has been used to track the mutation and spread of the virus around the world (and here in AoNZ with our currently contained outbreak).
Recently, scientists used a supercomputer in the US to crunch through data from 40,000 genes taken from 17,000 genetic samples, resulting in the “Bradykinin Hypothesis” on why SARS-COV2 causes such a range of unusual symptoms (and how it could potentially be treated). There’s an accessible summary written by Thomas Smith on Medium:
Finally there’s no doubt that Covid-19 is providing entrepreneurial tech opportunities worldwide. While low-tech facemask demand soars, Swiss startup Aeris Health is marketing its “AI-powered” air purifier which (it claims) removes coronavirus from the air inside buildings.
Tiktok and the sorting hat🕺💃🎩
The sorry US Tiktok “extortion/acquisition” saga drags on, with the Chinese government now getting involved to potentially block certain algorithms as part of the sale. (“Technology export controls” boot on the other foot…doh!). As Benedict Evans notes in his newsletter($), “…there’s a hilarious parallel with eBay buying Skype”.
(…And how a consortium of Microsoft and Walmart would add value to US Tiktok operations once separated from Chinese parent Bytedance is, er, *uncertain*…)
For an absolutely authoritative and eye-opening read on what actually makes Tiktok so special, I highly recommend Eugene Wei’s recent post: Tiktok and the sorting hat:
“How did an app designed by two guys in Shanghai manage to run circles around U.S. video apps from YouTube to Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, becoming the most fertile source for meme origination, mutation, and dissemination in a culture so different from the one in which it was built? …It turns out that in some categories, a machine learning algorithm significantly responsive and accurate can pierce the veil of cultural ignorance. Today, sometimes culture can be abstracted.”
Waste not (ever again)🗑️🛑
Back in Memia 2020.21 I introduced the concept of Modern Alchemy: taking something abundant and transmuting it into something scarce. Here’s another example: take landfill-destined refuse by the tonne and use a modern blast furnace to turn it into clean syngas energy (and rocks for construction projects). Check out the explainer video from Sierra Energy below:
This technology could completely change waste disposal:
Net zero carbon emissions.
100% recycled waste.
No. More. Landfills. Ever.
…In fact, it might even be economic to dig up old landfills for their energy potential…one way to avoid environmental disasters like Franz Josef in future?
Sierra Energy successfully raised US$33M last year - around that time CEO and Edmund Hillary Foundation (EHF) Fellow Mike Hart spoke at the New Frontiers conference last year on the opportunity for Aotearoa:
“What about a net-zero New Zealand? What about making New Zealand the first nation in the world with 100% recycling?…there’s only 13,000 tonnes of garbage created a day in the whole country…so with a couple of dozen [Sierra gasifiers] it would be possible to recycle 100% of the waste produced and convert it into clean fuels…”
So that’s waste disposal sorted then. What’s next? Oh, lots…
Privacy International has filed GDPR lawsuits aiming for US$billions in fines against credit agencies such as Equifax, data brokers including Oracle and ad-targeting companies:
“Entire business models could be declared illegal and have to be scrapped if these complaints are valid.”
🌳🌟The modern Arborist uses *LASERS*!
This is actually pretty important I think: given the geomagnetic solar storms which have frequently hit Earth over billions of years, I suspect there's a reason that life evolved using DNA to store information rather than electronics.
…I have long imagined what I call the "Leeloo Hypothesis" where memories could be stored in DNA as they are created - (Leeloo=The Fifth Element was stitched together from DNA and once reconstructed her memories were intact- beautiful scene, classic Luc Besson) - I discussed back in 2017).
🥩🤢3D printed not-quite-steak: artificial meat has a little way to go yet:
Programmable water droplets, so neat:
🔥🧍👓Rave reviews from attending Burning Man festival in VR.
Lots has been happening around AoNZ this week:
Rocketlab launched their own satellite🛰️👏:
The new government-backed Elevate VC fund made its first investment: NZ$21M into the newly formed Blackbird NZ Fund
The new Productivity Commission report findings speak for themselves (is anyone listening?🤔):
Waikato University’s Reuben Steff is publishing a new book: US Foreign Policy in the Age of Trump: Drivers, Strategy and Tactics. One of AoNZ’s global strategic thinkers, look forward to reading.
This week’s cerebrally expansionary recommendations:
Agree with Andrew Leckie that this Critical thinking guide should be taught in schools.
From a few months ago: venture capitalist, prolific Tweeter and tech philosopher Balaji S. Srinivasan writes about The Purpose Of Technology. (Short term: reducing scarcity. Long term: immortality, natch…)
The Big Bang may be a black hole inside another universe🤯:
Gripping (long) read from Wired about a young UK hacker’s story:
The Dutch have “bicycle buses” to get kids to school and back:
🙏🙏🙏 Thanks to everyone who takes the time to get in touch with links and feedback, it’s always great to hear from you.
…And please take a moment to share this email with those in your network who you think might enjoy it. Thank you!
More next week.
Cheers / Ngā mihi