Memia 2020.36: Party like it's 2021?🥳// poor backdoor law🚪// everything that moves will be autonomous🦾// dancing back to back (with facemasks)🕺😷💃😷

Magic Leap for dogs👓🐕‍🦺

Hi / Kia ora,

Welcome to another weekly Memia 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 (~24% of openers) was the amazing 3D billboard in the heart of Seoul.

Zoom hornet🐝

On a personal note, this week got off to an *exciting* start (not sure the photo conveys quite how fast I was moving at that point!):

Otago Uni’s Colin Gavaghan noted the comparison with Pence’s Fly (hilariously now >122K followers on Twitter and counting…):

Party like it’s 2021?🥳

Moving on.

With the news that early voting in the AoNZ election (😱PLEASE MAKE IT END😱) has already surpassed records four days out, it looks pretty certain that next week we’re going to have a new (mostly like the old) government in place and the country can finally *Keep Moving* again after an eternity of cam-pain-ing.

Looking ahead to next week and beyond:

“There are two issues with four-year terms: One is that they would give even more power to governments in a system where we already give our governments far more power than most other democracies. The other is that the problems a four-year term is trying to address deserve fixes of their own, not the sticking plaster of another year.”

Certainly reasons to be cautiously optimistic about 2021.

Poor backdoor law🚪

“Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.”

-John Perry Barlow, cofounder Electronic Frontier Foundation, “A declaration of the independence of cyberspace.” (1996)

Fast forward 24 years…last week the ‘Five Eyes’ governments - including Aotearoa - published a call to tech giants to build encryption backdoors into their products (or else * - see original link to Techcrunch, 2018):

“We call on technology companies to work with governments to…

  • Enable law enforcement access to content in a readable and usable format where an authorisation is lawfully issued, is necessary and proportionate, and is subject to strong safeguards and oversight; ”

(Full text of the announcement signed by New Zealand GCSB Minister Andrew Little here.)

So, over to you Nat Torkington:

The first well-trodden issue here is that hidden keys and backdoors simply invite others to find the way in. Period.

The second, more subtle, is that free speech in one country may be unlawful in another - so “lawfully issued” authorisation to disclose depends upon which jurisdiction applies. If your private communication breaks another country’s censorship laws, can their law enforcement agencies simply get authorisation to backdoor into your messages even if you sent and received it in AoNZ?

(And leave aside the hypocrisy: on the one hand the Five Eyes spy agencies are up in arms about the vulnerabilities in Huawei’s 5G equipment, but they’re simultaneously wanting to add backdoors into Western equivalents? My head hurts!😵)

It’s likely academic - Signal, Telegram, Tor and other end-to-end encrypted apps continue to run ahead of security agencies, in the West at least - and then organisations like Dfinity are designing a decentralised internet computer which would run apps that no agency would be able to control (if it worked…).

(And that’s before the Quantum Internet arrives - unhackable networks and information that travels faster than the speed of light…🤯)

Seriously, any solution to this problem would need to work in the West AND China AND every other jurisdiction, be open sourced and with legitimate, representative, global-level governance and legal oversight. As with pretty much every intractable techno-societal problem faced today, the solution is post-nation state. Not any time soon, then.

[Weak] signals

Each week I pull together developments which provide weak signals from near and far futures:

  • 🦾Everything that moves will be autonomous: CEO Jensen Huang launched NVIDIA’s new US$59 Jetson Nano AI computer from his kitchen - a tiny module for building and training autonomous robots. He also showcases Isaac Sim, NVIDIA’s simulation platform for training autonomous systems, commenting:

    “Some day neither the AI or us will be able to tell whether we’re in a virtual or a physical world.”

    - Jensen Huang (he actually said that!).

  • I want one: the Lily portable turbine for charging your device when going off-grid:

Mind expanding

Interesting reading this week:

  • Delighted to see continued recognition of one of my favourite authors, NK Jemisin receiving a US$625,000 MacArthur “genius grant”: if you haven’t already read her Broken Earth trilogy, do, profoundly original sci-fi/fantasy.


Hidden gems

Nuggets from around the internet this week:

  • …Speaking of space junk, Rocket Lab CEO Peter Beck said last week that the sheer number of objects in space right now is making it more difficult to find a clear path for rockets to launch new satellites. Check out the animation below… he’s got a point!

  • 🕺😷💃😷Dancing Back to Back (with facemasks): I’ve never really seen the point of a “School Prom”. This is next level.

  • 🎶And finally, hat tip for top spotting by reader Anna Pendergrast: spend 10 minutes watching the thread of Tiktok duet videos below and you will chuckle warmly to yourself for hours afterwards.

🙏🙏🙏 As always thanks to readers who regularly take time to get in touch with links and feedback, it’s great to hear from you. (Particular shout out to tech guru Andrew Leckie for all the tech tips this week!)

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