Memia 2020.33: Zeroes0️⃣to heroes🦸(for now)⏱️// filling the void📖// a horrible experiment🧪// infinite office♾️
[Makes "You're on mute" gesture]🔇
I’m Ben Reid and each week I pull together the Memia newsletter, a scan across unfolding futures and emerging tech, 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 (~28% of openers) was the apocalyptic San Francisco skyline set to Bladerunner 2045 soundtrack. Glad to hear skies have cleared a bit since then.
One correction to last week’s newsletter: the new Mandatory Climate Change Financial Disclosure proposal was actually a New Zealand Government announcement, not a Green Party one (fronted by James Shaw during election season, confusing…!). The news has since garnered praise as a world first from international climate change experts.
Zeroes0️⃣to heroes🦸(for now)⏱️
Reasons to be [temporarily*] cheerful: Aotearoa appears to have eliminated Covid-19 from community transmission twice(!) following a week of *mostly zero* daily new community cases inside the border. Restrictions eased to Level 1 around the country and Level 2 for Auckland from tonight. Nice work people.
(Thanks to Memia reader Mike Riversdale for these handy daily bilingual charts on Twitter:)
Time now to settle in for the long game…“normal” is not coming back:
While the electioneering continues about AoNZ’s border quarantine policy and how long it can be expected to last, Covid-19 numbers continue to rise globally with second waves now in evidence in the UK, Spain, France and a “third wave” in Iran.
*It is almost inevitable that Covid will get back in through AoNZ’s border multiple times…and maybe next time (or the time after that…) elimination won’t be successful.
Future lockdowns or not, people and organisations will continue to make adjustments to lifestyles, business models, work and social patterns to provide resiliency against future outbreaks.
Hopes that life will return to “normal” after a vaccine is discovered were recently examined by Hong Kong researchers published in The Lancet: What can we expect from first-generation COVID-19 vaccines?
“These observations suggest that we cannot assume COVID-19 vaccines, even if shown to be effective in reducing severity of disease, will reduce virus transmission to a comparable degree. The notion that COVID-19-vaccine-induced population immunity will allow a return to pre-COVID-19 “normalcy” might be based on illusory assumptions.”
This tweet from Privacy Commissioner John Edwards is, indeed, a timely reminder that we live in historic times:
Filling the void📖
National’s proposals include:
A new “Minister for Technology”
Increasing home-grown skills and a fast-track technology skills visa to attract talent from overseas
Upgrading infrastructure to 100Mbps internet speeds as standard on fibre and rural broadband
Launching 3 new targeted capital investment funds
“Tech-friendly regulation” to attract R&D
Total policy costed at NZ$690M over 4 years. (Still small beer).
Now….which party is next?
A horrible experiment🧪
We’ve been saturated with discussions on machine learning algorithm bias for years now… and the techniques to detect and mitigate bias are well documented. So when something like this turns up front and centre of the Twitter platform, in the middle of a US Presidential election campaign and racially-driven civil unrest, it’s jaw-dropping (click for full thread):
Twitter’s official response “didn’t find evidence…in our testing” (😱) and open sourcing the model for review:
Tony “Abolish (Pol)ICE” Arcieri 🦀 @basculeTrying a horrible experiment... Which will the Twitter algorithm pick: Mitch McConnell or Barack Obama? https://t.co/bR1GRyCkia
This is all around us and we don’t see it. Eyes wide open.
Memia’s weekly collection of signals from near and far futures:
Australia’s ABC news: Why Japan wants to join the Five Eyes intelligence network.
Interesting detail, did you know:
“[Edward Snowden's leaks] also revealed that the bloc had second and third-level intelligence sharing tiers: Nine Eyes and 14 Eyes.
Nine Eyes adds Denmark, France, Norway, and the Netherlands to the original five, while 14 Eyes encompasses Nine Eyes plus Germany, Belgium, Sweden and Spain.”
Closer to home, Newsroom Pro examines how New Zealand is still ‘underprepared’ for election interference ($wall).
On which subject, here’s a glimpse of Russian election tech. (Weak signal of something, just couldn’t say what…)😮
A new industry partnership has been established in Scotland to create green hydrogen production facilities with clusters of refuelling stations across the country, supporting national efforts to achieve net zero by 2045:
Research by Winnie Lau et al. published in Science Magazine models interventions to reduce plastic pollution: Even in the best case scenario, huge quantities of plastic will still accumulate in the environment. They recommend that coordinated global action is urgently needed to avoid a massive build-up of plastic worldwide.
Boston Dynamics announced plans for new logistics robots:
Race for space:
Rocket Lab aims to launch private Venus mission in 2023, looking for signs of life in the clouds
Future of farming?
12-storey pig farms…
♾️Last week’s Facebook launched several VR and AR products including Infinite Office:
Ross Dawson provides more colour on the reality of virtual reality:
“…While the [Quest 2] screen resolution is 50% higher than the original Quest, it is still just 3.5 Megapixels per eye, which while getting decent is not enough to get great resolution when viewing multiple screens in VR. The Quest 2 battery only last for 2 and a half hours, which means the office can’t easily be used through the day.”
Intellectual investigation this week:
Big (expensive) book by security expert Rocky Termanini: Storing Digital Binary Data in Cellular DNA: The New Paradigm
I’m looking forward to spending some time working remotely *and* meeting other attendees at the first RemoteTogether “festival of flexible working” in Queenstown 2nd-13th November. $175 early birds still available.
Distracting me in the last week:
"Given Earth’s rotational speed, if the [ancient dinosaur-killing] asteroid had hit 30 minutes earlier or later, scientists believe it would have made a much less consequential impact [and] there might still be dinosaurs today, but no humans."
Source: new book A Series of Fortunate Events
🔇Love this from Cameron Hunter, an essential new feature for all VC platforms (needs “you’re on mute” gesture):
Finally, you may already be familiar with the stunning night sky photography of Dunedin’s Ian Griffin - this is a recent highlight:
🙏🙏🙏 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