Memia 2021.19: Just the beginning⌛// the exponential age⏩// cryptophilanthropy💸// GPT-free🆓// minimum viable party🗳️// future of protein

The highest form of intelligence

Kia ora,

Another week, another Memia scan across emerging tech and the unfolding future. Thanks for being here!

Roundup

Just the beginning

Two recent cyberattacks in the news:

⏩The Exponential Age

This is remarkable: Cayman Islands-based macro-investor and crypto-evangelist Raoul Pal goes hard at a 90-minute take (almost unbroken) live to camera: Introduction to the Exponential Age:

He has a complex, epoch-spanning and evolving thesis on what’s actually going on in society and markets today, some key points I captured:

  • Demographically aging Japan 20+ years ago was the blueprint for modern quantatitive easing policies worldwide.

  • Globally, central bank balance sheet increases are now debasing fiat currencies at a rate of ~15% per year

  • Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptos are the only asset classes counteracting asset inflation

  • Metcalfe’s law is driving network effects across the whole digital asset class

  • Defi is a completely new lending and borrowing (…and insurance…?) infrastructure, decentralised on the blockchain. Needs a completely new approach to regulation.

  • Cryptocurrencies and gaming/virtual reality are just the beginning of a migration of value to the new “Metaverse” - virtual worlds where value is earned, held and exchanged in digital, not physical assets:

“This is the largest wealth redistribution in history…”

  • Much of this is happening far more quickly due to the awakening financialisation of Gen Z since Covid.

There are aspects of market-pumping to the presentation style and content - certainly I don’t take it as investment advice - but some deeply resonating truthful notes came through for me watching this talk, definitely worth spending the time.

[Weak] signals

The usual weekly roundup of signals from near and far futures:

💸Cryptophilanthropy

  • In other Crypto news, 27-year old Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin donated over US$1Bn of cryptocurrency assets to help save lives in India as it suffers from Covid-19 pandemic. Unfortunately almost all of it was in a memecoin (“Shiba Inu coin” - yes, another dog(e) coin), which tanked in value soon after:

🗳️Minimal Viable Party

More from the Tony Blair Institute’s Chris Yiu: Minimum viable party, A radical reboot of our approach to politics is long overdue, applying the principles of tech startups and product management to imagine new political party models:

“One of the most exciting developments of the internet era is the explosion in permissionless innovation. It’s never been easier to build, and it’s never been easier for people outside of traditional institutions to stand up a viable alternative to the status quo…the implicit assumption that a political party has to be in government before it can start delivering for the public belongs firmly in the past.”

So what is the role of tech in a new political party going forward? He lists a few concepts:

  1. APIs as civic infrastructure

  2. Alternative service delivery

  3. Platform provision

  4. Community group buy

  5. Consensus at scale

  6. Coins and tokens

  7. Digital twins

  8. The Metaverse:

“There may be a significant first-mover advantage for political parties able to adapt themselves to thrive in novel virtual environments and address the new user needs that arise within them.”

🙅Hard bargains

In depth analysis from the NYT on how Apple has decided to make some hard compromises around user privacy with the Chinese Government as it completes two massive iCloud data centres in Guiyang and Inner Mongolia:

🆓GPT-Free

While the code for most of OpenAI’s GPT language models is open source, the model is impossible to replicate without massive amounts of compute (courtesy of Microsoft). But public access to the trained models is only available via API to a select few companies and individuals - with no clear access policy. Enter GPT-Neo, a freely-available open source transformer from AI Research Collective EleutherAI, trained on 825GB data set The Pile and with performance comparing well to similarly sized GPT models.

Back down to Earth

Distrusting AI

  • Ohio University Dean of Engineering Ayanna Howard sounds a cautious note about how humans place too much trust in automated machines (with recent high profile fatal results)…and what could be done about it:

Hololens v.Next

  • Microsoft has chosen a deliberate focus on business use cases for its Hololens headsets. Head of Mixed Reality Alex Kipman confirmed in a recent interview that Microsoft is working on HoloLens 3 - and also collaborating with competitors Niantic and Epic to “keep mixed reality an open platform with free interoperability, multiple hardware sources and no app store lock-in to tax”. Good signals.

🥛Future of protein

Last week’s 2-day E Tipu Agri-innovation summit in Ōtautahi was an excellent event with wide-ranging agenda and speakers. Congrats @Kaila and the Boma organising team (and the [non-synthetic] food was *amazing* too!). Two key themes stood out for me:

Regenerative Agriculture:

Synthetic Proteins:

  • Singapore is the emerging world leader in synthetic proteins:

    • Shiok Meats makes cell-cultured shrimp and lobster proteins (a recent Shiok survey found that over 78% of Singaporean consumers were willing to try cell-based seafood).

    • Sophie’s Bionutrients make an algae-based milk “comparable in nutritional value to cow’s milk, but made using a fraction of the energy, land and water”.

Mind expanding

Tickling the neocortex this week:

Rollcall

Around the Motu this week:

  • 🍾Another one away: super congratulations to Dunedin-based, remotely-managed SaaS firm Timely for their >NZ$100M exit to Colorado firm EverCommerce. (Found Ryan Baker looking very floral in all the PR shots…). Another epic result for Lance Wiggs and Punakaiki Fund as well.👏

Hidden gems

An eclectic trio of links from around the interweb this week:

  • I love the juxtaposition here:

  • And, this is sooo true:

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

More again next week.

Ngā mihi / Cheers

Ben