Memia 2021.14: Privacy UP⬆️// RIP🪦copyright©️// ➖ive emissions hydrogen // project december🤖// monkey🐒mindpong🧠
We can start a movement. It will be a peaceful movement. We have to scare them.😬
Welcome to this week’s Memia newsletter, my regular scan across emerging tech and the unfolding future from Aotearoa New Zealand.
I really enjoyed the latest Memia AMA call with readers on Monday - the usual broad range of topics, including: ethics of lethal and non-lethal autonomous weapons, tech implications for small nation defence strategy, redesigning local government, swarm robots […for low-cost roading projects], NFTs, reputation markets (BitClout etc)... Shout out to the awesome Sam Ragnarsson for collating links discussed during the call. Please join us for the next Memia AMA, Monday 3 May, 12pm-1pm.
Flashback to 12 months ago: 2 weeks into Aotearoa’s Level 4 national lockdown, I spent a Sunday afternoon looking out ahead: Post-Covid-19 - some "axes of uncertainty" scenarios for New Zealand Inc. - searching for opportunities on the other side of the pandemic response. Worth a re-read one year later, even if I say so myself. Amazing how things have turned out compared to how things could have been...
Please excuse a slightly shorter missive than usual this week, busy getting my slides ready to talk at CreativeHQ in Te Whanganui-a-Tara this evening and generally snowed under with work, as is the modern condition…🙄
Google Chrome ’s 3rd party cookie changes are being rolled out in stages. In a sign of what is to come, I just got to a login page for a service I use in Incognito mode:
This triggered me to test out changing my normal browsing privacy settings as below:
So far a seamless experience, nothing seems to be broken… and just by flicking a slider across on the screen it *feels like* I have more privacy and greater control over my data exhaust.
…However, going down this rabbit hole led me further to my personalised Ad Settings, in which apparently I am in the target audience for:
…and worst of all😱:
A bit weirded out seeing my online cohort reflection staring back at me. FloC still has some way to go, clearly…
A roundup of recent future trends reports:
No way can a year have passed already…! US Futurist Amy Webb’s Future Today Institute have put out their annual 2021 Tech Trends Report. As usual it’s HUGE in scope - and as usual the predictions are generally right on the money. Read the summary here and block out a few days over the next month to read the full report…
The US National Intelligence Council (NIC) released its Global Trends 2040 Report - which assesses four structural forces that will shape the future – demographics, the environment, economics, and technology – and describes five potential scenarios for the world in 2040:
Renaissance of democracies
A world adrift
Tragedy and mobilization
There is also a useful set of regional demographic and climate summaries to use for reference. This is the same [unclassified and US-centric] assessment that each incoming US President receives, worth a read.
The World Economic Forum with Deloitte have also released their latest trends report: Technology Futures: Projecting the Possible, Navigating What’s Next.
In a significant win for common sense, the US Supreme Court has finally ruled in favour of Google on Oracle’s long-running US$9 billion(!!!) copyright dispute relating to Java API source code used in Android way back in 2010. The majority opinion stated:
“To the extent that Google used parts of the Sun Java API to create a new platform that could be readily used by programmers, its use was consistent with that creative ‘progress’ that is the basic constitutional objective of copyright itself”
Unfortunately the court sidestepped ruling on the more fundamental issue of copyright as applied to software…
(As every citizen of the 21st century infoverse would know by now, “copyright law” is a baffling anachronistic archaism with no basis in the mathematical universe…see Memia 2020.05 Copyright is Futile)
Whatever, Oracle’s legal bills will likely make others think twice about copyright rent taking in future…
➖Negative emissions hydrogen
Nova Scotia-based company Planetary Hydrogen has developed a chemical process which uses fossil-free renewable electricity to generate hydrogen and oxygen and then combines this with a mineral salt to create an “ocean antacid” - similar to baking soda - effectively accelerating natural geological processes of oceanic CO2 absorption and sequestration. The result is “negative emissions hydrogen”: with the potential to store 40 kilograms of CO2 for every kilogram of hydrogen produced while deacidifying the ocean. For US$10 per ton of CO2. What’s not to like?
More on the theory behind Ocean Alkalinity Enhancement below:
Hydrogen in the sky
Speaking of Hydrogen, the BBC reports on the first flight of a 6-seater hydrogen-powered plane in the UK, with a 20-seater commercial model in the wings aiming for commercial flights by 2023.
“Importantly in the context of flight, hydrogen packs a lot of energy per unit of mass – three times more than conventional jet fuel, and more than a hundred times that of lithium-ion batteries.”
The high-tech Chinese city of Shenzhen has officially ditched GDP for policy targets, instead releasing its “Gross Ecosystem Product” (GEP) accounting system after a 6-year pilot. The city will start reporting against this framework in July 2022, calculating GEP according to a technical specification (*in Mandarin) covering three major categories:
Ecosystem goods and services that can be marketed (eg farming and fishery products)
Nonmarketable services (eg forests which store carbon to mitigate climate change), and
Cultural and touristic benefits (eg improving public health)
Data underpinning each of these categories will be collected with remote sensors, surveys and statistical reports, and then weighted to arrive at a final “GEP” number for the entire city.
Not a million miles away from Aotearoa’s Wellbeing framework…(with the key difference being that in Shenzhen it is actually being implemented rather than just talked about...)
More from the edge of GPT-3
Project December from US-based AI developer and games designer Jason Rohrer is a set of “personality matrices” using GPT-3 to boot them into a chatbot interface. The results are simultaneously hilarious AND sinister.
After the Finnish Parliament had a try, Helsinki-based AI professor[/legend] Teemu Roos also put it through its paces😨:
In case you missed it (how?!), Neuralink showed off the latest iteration of their BCI device in use by Pager, a 9-year old Macaque monkey. Lots of questions left hanging by the video1, but if it is as real as presented then this tech could be helping people with paralysis within a few years.
(Note: Other human BCI trials have been going on for years now: Nathan Copeland (@BCICanDoBetter) is a US quadriplegic who calls himself “The World’s #1 BCI Guinea Pig”. Here he is playing Final Fantasy Online with just his mind back in 2019.)
Recent experiments at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (“Fermilab”) in Batavia, Illinois have indicated that the Standard Model of particle physics may be incomplete: observed Muon “wobbles” imply that there are still forms of matter and energy yet to be discovered.
Thanks Matt Boyd for pointing me to this recent podcast between UC Berkeley AI professor Stuart Russell and drone expert Zachary Kallenborn on Drone Swarms and Lethal Autonomous Weapons. Essential listening about the governance implications for autonomous AI that are right here right now:
“If you go to Turkey, there’s a company called STM, which is advertising something called the Kargu drone, and they explicitly say autonomous hit capabilities, human face recognition, human tracking, human targeting, all their advertising materials, basically telling you this is a lethal autonomous weapon that you can buy in as large a quantity as you can afford and use to kill your enemies.”
Shout outs around Aotearoa:
Pop along to Take Charge Christchurch at Tūranga in Ōtautahi this weekend to see the Wisk air taxi close up:
University of Auckland AI Professor Michael Witbrock’s inaugural lecture: The Future of Thinking is happening in Tāmaki Makaurau on 29th April, get along!
This week I came across Whare Hauora, a small Aotearoa not-for-profit IoT enterprise which makes healthy home sensors (and also advocates for ethical home sensor data use):
“The sensors measure temperature, humidity and calculate dew point in each room and our phone app sends notifications if your room might make you sick.”The unboxing of Manawa home sensors gave me the tingles! What an awesome achievement by and team to hit this milestone. Technology making our world better.
Great work - there’s a big need for this tech here to improve Aotearoa’s damp and cold housing stock - and IoT is a devilish business model to make succeed - likely not-for-profit is a better way to go here. There is also the option to gift a sensor kit to a family in need.
Hats off to NZ Tourism* as the border reopens with Australia:
[*Not actually real- all Dylan’s own work.]
As always thanks for reading…more again next week!
Ngā mihi / Cheers
Not to mention hypemaster Elon Musk’s association