Memia 2021.17: Perfidious🙄Aotearoa// digital choke points🎯// NFTWTF🥴// synthetic me👯// AI, captain!🛳️// post-quantum cryptography⚛️🔐

Where do the world's ~1 billion cows live?🐄💨

Kia ora,

Welcome to this week’s Memia newsletter, my regular scan across emerging tech and the unfolding future, as viewed from Aotearoa New Zealand.

In the last week…

  • More on Aotearoa’s evolving strategic positioning: Australian international affairs expert Bryce Wakefield penned a provocatively titled piece: 🙄Perfidious Aotearoa? New Zealand’s Five Eyes Problem. (I had to lookup what “perfidious” means1.) Despite the title, it’s a relatively nuanced analysis from the other side of the ditch:

“…unlike Australia, New Zealand exports few products that China could not source elsewhere. It’s no wonder, then, that Wellington treads a cautious line in its dealings with its largest export market. The Five Eyes grouping is not somehow offering to secure the New Zealand economy should Wellington incur the wrath of Beijing.”

But he concludes:

“New Zealand’s reluctance to go “all in” on a new model of engagement for Five Eyes probably has less to do with angering Beijing and more to do with how New Zealand seeks to play a role in its narrower [Pacific] region.”

🤔🤔🤔Hmmm. Not entirely sure about that last bit…

  • 💰The FT laid open Aotearoa’s endemic low household savings rate: even during Covid-19, we are still among the lowest in the OECD. Actually negative savings on average from 2000-2019! (Not to worry, easy to remortgage the house to stay afloat…again…). Even with Kiwisaver starting to finally grow savings over the last few years, I’m intrigued to understand the drivers underlying this stat… (thx Roger Dennis for sharing).

  • 📈Some striking heatmaps from @PythonMaps this week:

    • Global CO2 emissions in 2019:

  • Global Methane emissions in 20152:

…on which subject🐄💨:

[Weak] signals

Hybrid work

🎯Digital choke points

🥴NFTWTF

  • And to top it all, NFTs have started cross-pollinating with GPT-3: to form “Intelligent NFTs” - iNFTs (ht eagle eyed spotting Stephen Canning). Alethea.ai promises:

“Our Mission: We will enable a metaverse of millions of intelligent and interactive characters to emerge, with their own thriving economics.”

iNFTWTF.🤯

👯Synthetic me

  • CodeMiko is a virtual livestreamer on the gaming platform Twitch, animated in real-time by “The Technician” (who never gives her real name):

“Miko is a failed video game character. Her dream is she wants to be in a triple-A video game but she’s so scuffed and glitchy that she was unable to,” says The Technician, who is also Miko. “So she started trying to do Twitch streaming instead.”

- The Verge, CodeMiko will see you now)

Self driving cars “just around the corner”

🛳️AI, captain!

⚛️🔐Post-quantum cryptography

Today’s classic public-key encryption algorithms such as RSA, ECDSA - the basis for most security in common use today - are likely to be broken soon by new quantum computers. The race is on to replace existing public-key cryptography with a new generation of Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) in time before the crossover occurs.

Helium goes up

I’ve previously covered decentralised wireless internet service Helium: regular Memia reader Ollie Bruce provides an authoritative breakdown in this Twitter thread:

Mind expanding

Net states

  • From 2020: Q&A with Alexis Wichowski, deputy CTO for innovation for the City of New York - her book The Information Trade outlines how the largest tech companies are asserting themselves in spheres traditionally managed by national governments, including defence, diplomacy, public infrastructure, and citizen services.

Beyond the big powers:

  • Kiwi economist abroad David Skilling on War by other means: the implications for smaller states (including Aotearoa) to adjust to big power competition based on economics & technology, not just military spending:

“The post-Covid economic recovery in advanced economies will likely have technology investment as a central feature. But the profile of these investments will be shaped by the emerging geopolitical context.”

Rollcall

Around the country this week:

  • Aotearoa is one of the first countries to get the Android Earthquake Alerts System, which turns (opted-in) Android smartphones into a sort-of seismometer - using the accelerometer to detect the initial P-waves generated by earthquakes - Android users should now receive early warning alerts of an earthquake in their area.

  • A couple of local Agritech stories:

[Hidden] gems

From around the internet this week:

  • And we do live in a photogenic place:

As always thanks 🙏🙏🙏 for letting me into your inbox each week - and to all readers who send in links, comments and feedback…much appreciated!

More again next week.

Ngā mihi / Cheers

Ben

1

Bryce schooled me on Twitter to the correct […17th Century…] historical context: “Perfidious Albion”)

2

Question whether this dataset includes melting Arctic tundra in Siberia…