Memia 2020.34: Disunited states🧨// patient China🐼// all-weather companies🌩️// virtual facemasks👓😷// bionic piano gloves🦾🎹🧤

Shout out to all the palm tree trimmers🌴😵

I’m Ben Reid and each week I pull together this 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 (~20% of openers) was Cameron Hunter’s rather nifty videoconferencing gestures.

Disunited States🧨

Recent informed commentary points to an increasingly fragile US, with broad implications for all of us who live within its sphere of influence.

  • What changes will ripple around the world if the world’s pre-eminent nuclear superpower descends into civil war? Cue…

Patient China🐼

…Aotearoa’s largest trading partner continues to patiently position itself strategically, asserting influence on many fronts:

  • Useful summary from CNN of the multiple territorial disputes which China is currently engaged in:

  • More positively, this week China announced its policy to become Carbon Neutral before 2060. This is huge news from the world’s largest CO2 emitter, but the path to implementation is vague.

  • Updated coverage of Chinese developments in sovereign digital currency known as Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP), now being tested in four cities:

  • For an alternative keynote on China, (and yes, Australia’s ABC isn’t exactly objective on the subject…) the article linked below discusses ongoing internal discontent with Xi’s authoritarian regime…

    • I keep coming back to structure: over-centralised system architectures are brittle by nature…

All-weather companies🌩️

Speaking of brittleness vs. resilience, in its recent study Becoming an All-Weather Company, BCG Henderson Institute examined the performance of ~1,800 US companies from 1995 to 2020 to understand the long term value of resilience, particularly in light of this year’s Covid-19 pandemic. Their findings:

  • Crisis periods have a disproportionate effect on long-run outperformance.

  • The deeper the crisis, the greater the value of resilience.

  • Outperformance is driven primarily by withstanding the immediate impact.

  • Most paths to long-term success leverage resilience.

Having watched businesses and communities come through several unexpected major economic shocks (the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010-2011 in particular) this rings true to me. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…

[Weak] signals

This week: (space)planes, (sea)weeds and virtual facemasks…

  • Space planes: Virgin Galactic are getting closer to joining SpaceX putting humans into orbit:

Mind expanding

  • You are here. amazing visualisation of how all life evolved through time (***Update: click here for fixed broken link***):

  • The history and future of everything: (h/t for the link John Hancock)

  • And… anyone want to invest in a Dyson Sphere? All that energy from the Sun is just, like, *going to waste*…


Movers and shakers around AoNZ this week:

  • Kudos to Michael Murphy and the team at Callaghan Innovation for collecting this comprehensive set of resources for raising capital in New Zealand:

Hidden gems

From the internet….

  • 🌴😵A few weeks ago we covered arborists with lasers. It can’t come soon enough for the palm tree trimmer below! In-sane.

  • 🦾🎹🧤…and secondly how moving is this clip of Brazilian pianist João Carlos Martins playing again after 20 years thanks to a pair of “bionic” gloves? (Full story here in the Chicago Tribune from earlier this year). Just imagining what this tech will be capable of in a few more years…

🙏🙏🙏 Thanks as always to everyone who has taken time to get in touch with links and feedback, it’s great to hear from you.

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