Memia 2021.16: 👀👀4 eyes and a wink😉// digital! decentralised! Health NZ🩺// dragon up🐉// signal utu👅// universal creative income💰
I-OH-TEEEE! / I-OH-TEEEE!
Welcome to this week’s Memia newsletter, covering the interplay between emerging tech and the rapidly unfolding future. I try to take a global perspective but often focus in on what’s happening in my corner of the world - Aotearoa New Zealand and the wider Asia-Pacific region. I hope you find it engaging…and if you do, please feel free to share with a friend or colleague!
Events from this week:
👀👀4 Eyes and a Wink😉: a former Australian foreign minister tweeted pithily…
…in response to comments from current Aotearoa incumbent Nanaia Mahuta that New Zealand is "uncomfortable" with any expanded remit of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance. To many of us in the domestic audience, this came across as more deft footwork in the ongoing asymmetric hedge dance between the historical US/Australia alliance and largest trading partner China… to the conservative UK press it came across as “The Woke Weak Link” (OK, boomer…🧓🏻).
Stuff columnist Damien Grant marks out firmer boundaries: Entangled in Five Eyes: Guarded in stealth, an alliance it is not.
Also, the full text of Mahuta’s recent lengthy speech on Aotearoa-China relations, “He Taniwha He Tipua, He Tipua He Taniwha - The Dragon and the Taniwha” lays out more subtle positioning if you have the time (..and the energy…OMG why won’t bureaucrats create ministerial speeches with slides!?!?!)
😷More seriously: thinking about millions of people in India suffering an extreme second wave (tsunami…) of Covid-19 epidemic while other parts of the world approach critical mass vaccination. We are so blithely fortunate here in Aotearoa. Kia kaha🫂.
🩺Digital! Decentralised! Health NZ
After over three years of sideline detractors decrying the Ardern government’s inaction on any major reforms, Labour’s own “action man” - Health Minister Andrew Little - finally dropped a big rock into the pond last week with his announcement of a new, consolidated national health service:
“All DHBs will be replaced by one national organisation, Health New Zealand
A new Māori Health Authority will have the power to commission health services, monitor the state of Māori health and develop policy
New Public Health Agency will be created
Strengthened Ministry of Health will monitor performance and advise Government”
RNZ canvased a range of expert reactions from the supportive to the melodramatic:
“like an atomic bomb being dropped with no warning“
- Acting Canterbury DHB Chair Mark Solomon
Seriously…? Like a tiny country of 5M population really needs 20 pseudo-sovereign mini-me bureaucracies? (Refer also…Local Government).
Well…here’s another reckon:
“Underwhelming and fails to imagine the possible”
- Sideline carper Ben Reid
In the announcement and also the RNZ coverage, there isn’t a *single* use of the words “digital”, “technology” or “innovation” looking forward.
Instead the announcement seems totally preoccupied with cost-saving efficiencies from organisational restructuring - without any modernisation of service design or user experience. Remind me what century we’re in again?
Why can’t a new 21st century public health service be re-imagined from the ground up based upon a few simple principles? Such as:
Defined population-wide health outcome data measured consistently, frequently and transparently across the whole system
A single unified digital health record
…fully accessible by the patient…
…which meets international security and portability standards.
Equal access to all services which can be delivered digitally
Meet increased demand for (more convenient) GP services by supporting digital telemedicine where possible
Remote health monitoring, alerting and prediction
(With broadband satellite internet, rural connectivity issues diminish towards zero.)
Location-based differential access for services which must be delivered in-person or in a specialised built facility (eg hospital, GP clinic)
(As currently), live 200km from a major population centre, expect to travel for in-person treatment.
…BUT transparent algorithms and subsidised travel to maximize equity of geographic access
Decentralised, distributed workforce by default
Administrative and telemedicine roles which don’t require in-person presence can be filled anywhere in the country (…?or outside…?)
Further: take this transformation opportunity to introduce an alternative operating model for national government, away from proximity-biased Wellington-centric bureaucracy
My relatively limited personal experiences of medical care in Aotearoa are a combination of high quality people (both clinical and administrative) but archaic paper-based and client-server IT systems and communications. In 2021, many digital natives expect better.
Hopefully some of these - frankly glaring - omissions will be addressed by the time the final restructuring proposal is completed in a year. Otherwise a wasted, once-in-a-technological-generation opportunity.
Some of these sentiments echoed by NZHIT:
(See also NZHIT’s new Digital Health Opportunities report - below)
The usual roundup of emerging tech stories from this week:
🐉Dragon up: I very much enjoyed watching live the second Dragon rocket launch with four astronauts on board - SpaceX put on a pretty good show…and successfully docked autonomously with the ISS 24 hours later:
VPS: Australian futurist Ross Dawson profiles 8 leading virtual firms shaping the future of professional services.
Not to sound like a broken record but IMO this is one of the biggest global trend opportunities for Aotearoa businesses - and individuals - to be part of. Live here, work anywhere.
👅Signal Utu: After “digital intelligence“ software firm Cellebrite claimed to be able to decrypt files from secure messaging app Signal, Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike decided to have a look into Cellebrite’s security… the results are not impressive.
Chips for dinner: The second generation of the world’s biggest AI chip, the dinner-plate sized Cerebras Wafer Scale Engine (WSE-2), now holds 2.6 trillion transistors and 850,000 cores. The WSE architecture, manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC), removes complexity of connecting lots of smaller chips together and dramatically increases speed and efficiency by having all transistors in a single silicon wafer.
Related: the Economist leads this week with How TSMC has mastered the geopolitics of chipmaking: Make yourself indispensable to both America and China.
Chinese state news service Xinhua reported that testing has started on a national “future internet technology infrastructure” network which will connect 40 of the country’s leading research universities with huge bandwidth and far lower latency than the current internet, as a prototype for the Chinese “internet of the future”.
It’s not just about bandwidth, the plan also includes new ground-up network-native security. (Just in case we might forget that the Huawei boot is also worn on the other foot, the SCMP writes:
“China’s [current] internet was built with Western technology and is riddled with back doors. The US government’s Prism project, for instance, exploited these weaknesses to infiltrate Chinese government and research institutes, including Tsinghua, according to US whistle-blower Edward Snowden”
(Who would have thunk it?)
Conversely, US legal think tank Just Security anticipates the downsides of China’s Dystopian “New IP” Plan.
Hot Topics: 2500 US earnings calls in Q1 and filtered for technology topics (h/t spotting John McDermott):
Future of money:
Lots of developments percolating this week around this abstract concept called “money”:
Wild west crypto:
If you haven’t heard it, the story of Dogecoin, the joke that became a billion dollar cryptocurrency.
Echoing Aotearoa’s own Cryptopia, Turkish Crypto exchange Thodex went dark with fears of a US$2Bn fraud.
Slightly less wild, less west world of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs):
The Bank of England announced a new CBDC Taskforce to coordinate the exploration of a potential UK CBDC.
(Hello, Adrian Orr….?!)
China’s ongoing digital Yuan trials are a direct threat to the incumbent Alipay/ WeChat payments duopoly.
Two pieces of monetary meta-commentary:
Brendan Greeley in the FT($wall): Bitcoin Boom Fuels Fight Over Money Creation.
And challenging from the pseudonymous Concoda (“Navigating the absurdity of late-stage capitalism”) on Medium: How the Elites Plan to Stop the Mother of All Bubbles From Bursting. (h/t spotting Andrew Leckie):
“Right now, maintaining the status quo means creating modern but also batshit economic policies. We’re in a crazy scenario where every traditional monetary and fiscal tool has become ineffective. These only act as psychological tricks to convince us the authorities have control over the banks while the opposite is true. Fed officials can’t even define money, but that’s what you get when you back your currency with nothing. Instead, their new role is to support the massive house of cards that the financial aristocracy has constructed over the past half-century.”🤔
Information Security deity Bruce Schneier has a cautionary tale: Hackers Used to Be Humans. Soon, AIs Will Hack Humanity (h/t spotting Kate Sutton)
“Like crafty genies, AIs will grant our wishes and then hack them, exploiting our social, political, and economic systems like never before.”
💰US-based VC Li Jin explores The Case for Universal Creative Income
(And mirror.xyz, the crypto publishing platform she uses, is of note, too).
I’ve always been enticed by the insights of the World Values Survey - latest dataset analysis is out, summarised in the map below:
Around Aotearoa this week:
The hugest congratulations and admiration for Steven Moe, who just hit his 250th Seeds podcast episode patiently telling impactful and innovative New Zealanders’ stories. A monumental achievement…and what a substantial body of work to have as a legacy. (I was fortunate to join Steven as a guest back in 2019).
NZHIT released a significant new report: Hauora, Mauri Ora: Enabling a Healthier Aotearoa New Zealand: an updated analysis of Digital Health in New Zealand.
RocketLab’s PR machine keen to remind us that it does have some non-military payloads as well: the company has won the Aotearoa Government contract to set up and run the mission control for MethaneSAT, an international space project to measure cow burps, gas pipeline leaks and other sources of methane.
This is dark, but relatable:
Thanks regular Memia first responder Shane Wilson for putting me on to the rather excellently tongue-in-cheek #LikeABosch campaign. Now I can’t stop shouting I-OH-TEEEE! I-OH-TEEEE! over and over in my head…
(And half seriously, perhaps they’ve finally cracked the “how to sell IoT” conundrum…?)
Closer to home, over the Anzac weekend I was support crew for Ms. 15yo’s team taking part in the very well organised, but very long (13-hour!!) Kaikoura Adventure Race in the north-eastern mountains of Te Wai Pounamu. It really is one of the most stunning parts of the country…plus, in between transitions we managed to pay a visit to the baby seals further up the coast! After the Kaikoura earthquakes and with the Covid lockdown significantly reducing tourist numbers, the coastal wildlife in this part of the South Island appears to be thriving.🦭
As always thanks 🙏🙏🙏 for letting me into your inbox each week - and to everyone who sends in comments and feedback…much appreciated!
More again next week.
Ngā mihi / Cheers