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?🐄💨
Welcome to this week’s Memia newsletter, my regular scan across emerging tech and the unfolding future, as viewed from Aotearoa New Zealand.
The most clicked links in last week’s issue (~9% of openers each) were the #LikeABosch IoT ad and also Ross Dawson’s article on 8 leading virtual firms shaping the future of professional services. 🍪🥗A varied diet is good for you, they say.😇
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🐄💨:
In amidst a week of stellar financial results for US giant tech companies, Google announced that is saving over US$1Bn per year from its work-from-home policies…but from September is expecting workers to be located in the office for at least 3 days per week, creating a “hybrid” colocated / remote working model.
To my knowledge, Google haven’t shared any hard data on which they are making that decision…feels dissonant.
The FT($wall) documents the landscape: the new frontiers of hybrid work take shape.
🎯Digital choke points
Important article from EU strategy analyst Filip Medunic in the wake of the recent Suez Canal blockage: A glimpse of the future: The Ever Given and the weaponisation of choke-points:
Despite the “buyer beware” technological warnings about Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)…the market continues to evolve:
“Our Mission: We will enable a metaverse of millions of intelligent and interactive characters to emerge, with their own thriving economics.”
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)
This takes us another step closer to Balaji’s Pseudonymous Economy… imagining that this is how I will turn up for work on Zoom in a few years…
Miko and many other current examples at the bleeding edge of synthetic media are covered in this excellent roundup by Index Ventures’ Rex Woodbury: The Rise of Synthetic Media & Digital Creators (ht Kate Sutton for spotting).
…Also on the subject of synthetic media, deepfake satellite imagery is a thing.
Self driving cars “just around the corner”
Alphabet subsidiary Waymo is the first company in the world to deploy a commercial ride-hailing service in Phoenix Arizona, but no firm dates on wider rollout. (They are now also testing trucks on US roads). Their two new co-CEOs were interviewed on Bloomberg: No driver’s licence should be necessary.
Playing catchup, on the other side of the world, Chinese tech giant Baidu rolled out the first 10 of their autonomous “robotaxis” in Beijing.
The world’s first solar-powered autonomous trimaran, the 15m long “Mayflower 400” prepared for its maiden voyage in my childhood city of Plymouth, England.
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.
The US government is investing US$625 million on five quantum information research hubs
NIST is leading a PQC standardisation process.
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:
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.”
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:
Peter Beck-backed “smart cow” virtual fencing startup Halter raises $32m.
Callaghan Innovation’s Nicky Molloy provides an overview of New Zealand’s Vision for Agricultural Robotics.
From around the internet this week:
Chuckled out loud:
Another piece of biting Aussie satire from TheJuiceMedia:
(Who’s doing this in Aotearoa?!)
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
Question whether this dataset includes melting Arctic tundra in Siberia…