Memia 2021.20: Aotearoa's future economy🌏// not enough people?🧑‍🤝‍🧑// next "next"⏩// waiting game⏲️// augmented dexterity🧠🤏🦾

⬜Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility

Kia ora,

Welcome to this year’s 20th Memia scan across emerging tech and ideas about the future. A special nau mai to all new readers this month - thanks for being here!

Weekly roundup

  • The most clicked link in last week’s issue (a whopping 16% of openers) was to check out “2nd brain” tool Roam Research.

  • Reminder that we’re right in the middle of Techweek 21 - over 300 events happening this week, check out the rest of the programme.

  • Thanks to everyone who attended the Techweek events I spoke at in Southland on Monday - of particular interest for me were the major regional tech initiatives including the hyperscale datacentre in Makarewa and a proposal to convert Tiwai Point to green hydrogen production. Plus Invercargill’s city centre is mid-major rebuild. Lots of stuff happening I wasn’t aware of, looking forward to checking in on progress next time I’m down.

  • Headsup: Memia AMA is changing up to Memia Monthly Discussion:

    • Taking a break in June due to Queen’s Birthday public holiday (gordbless’er👑).

    • Keeping a monthly lunchtime timeslot but shifting from a Monday to Friday by popular request

    • In-depth live guest interview each month with someone who is doing innovative, groundbreaking or though-provoking work, followed by Q&A and open discussion

    • Recording available for Memia subscribers

    • Next event scheduled for Friday 2nd July 12pm-1pm NZT, watch this space for how to register.

    • If you have ideas for speakers, topics or format, please get in touch .

🌏Aotearoa’s future economy

I was fortunate to see Dunedin’s own digital provocateur Ian Taylor present the closing keynote at the recent E Tipu conference1 - in amongst his views on agri digital twins was this phenomenal remote-delivery achievement by his company Animation Research (click for video):

“The tyranny of distance is no longer”

Amen. Aotearoa’s future economy, right there.

🧑‍🤝‍🧑Not enough people?

Related reckons: last week I had an exchange of views on Twitter with Mark Vivian of venture capital fund Movac:

There were lots of “it depends on the business stage/context” types of replies in the thread. Yeah…but nah.🤔

As mentioned above this week is Techweek, organised by NZTech, the nationwide tech industry body. In January, NZTech published the latest in their impactful series of sector reports2 which is definitely worth dipping into: Digital Skills for a Digital Future. Here’s the summary page:

Important stuff, with some actionable recommendations - there is clearly a growing market imbalance between demand and supply.

But, on the subject of working remotely:

“Now, more than ever before, New Zealanders can work remotely from the comfort and relative safety of their own homes. Remote working creates a new global employment market for skilled New Zealanders, who may choose to work for offshore companies, further deteriorating our local talent supply”

And:

“The impact of COVID-19 on immigration is expected to result in numbers dropping into the hundreds creating a domestic shortage of senior specialists. For tech exporters with offshore offices, this is expected to result in a transfer of work from New Zealand to wherever they can access the talent.”

Personally, this all comes across as too zero-sum to me. I see a completely opposite spin:

“Covid-19 has accelerated a borderless employment / contracting market for skilled knowledge workers all around the world: HURRAY!”

Just in the last week I’ve had conversations with three firms who are augmenting their Aotearoa- and Australia-based development teams with smart, hard-working people living in the Philippines, Vietnam and India, at 33% or less the hourly rates they are used to paying locally (which is still highly competitive in those countries).

(The alternative is just to keep on wearing salary inflation in an artificially constrained merry-go-round local labour market).

I find it contradictory to champion exporting firms who want to participate competitively in global open markets, while also promoting exceptionalism for workers based upon whether or not they happen to reside inside a national border.

IM(not-so-H)O: Aotearoa’s knowledge economy is no longer isolated (=*insulated*) from the outside world. There are plenty of skilled people near our timezone. Investors, directors and managers who lack imagination to participate in a distributed, borderless, remote-first talent model are just missing the play.

[Weak] signals

This week’s drum rhythms beating backwards in time:

Next “next”

The week in Crypto

⏲️Waiting game

  • Semiconductor giant TSMC, in partnership with MIT and NTU, have shown a way to make chips smaller than 1nm using the semi-metal bismuth. This is yet another materials breakthrough that could push back the ‘end’ of Moore’s Law (…although it’s expected to take 10 years to commercialisation.)

  • Among many other announcements at its I/O developer event, Google has opened a new Quantum AI Campus in Santa Barbara, CA and is targeting to build a “useful, error-corrected” quantum computer…by 2029.

    How many businesses in Aotearoa are investing at scale on 10-year commercialisation horizons?

Additive construction

Augmented reality

  • Snap Inc. is staying in the AR specs game with the developer-only release of its next generation Spectacles:

🧠🤏🦾Augmented dexterity

More artificial food

Fast trucks

Fog collection

Mind expanding

“MMAcevedo (Mnemonic Map/Acevedo), also known as Miguel, is the earliest executable image of a human brain. It is a snapshot of the living brain of neurology graduate Miguel Álvarez Acevedo (2010–2073), taken by researchers at the Uplift Laboratory at the University of New Mexico on August 1, 2031…”

Depending on your outlook on the technical feasibility of mind uploading, the story is either terrifyingly real or reassuringly fictional!

  • I’m enjoying the latest book from Andy Weir (The Martian, Luna): Project Hail Mary. Humorous, adventurous and scientifically rigorous according to form.

Rollcall

Just a couple of shout-outs this week:

  • I think this is the third time I’ve linked to investor Rowan Simpson’s excellent Top Three Substack: in his latest, Influence, Celebrate, Measure, he lists all of his investments to date and their outcomes (or not) - together with an updated ruler across Xero’s latest financials.

  • It was great to meet Southland-based social entrepreneur James Wards this week - he is the social entrepreneur behind YourCorps - holding multiplayer gaming events around the country aiming to improve mental health and reduce suicide rates among young people. YourCorps’ mission statement:

    • Reach 1000 kids per weekend

    • Forge genuine lasting friendships

    • Reduce New Zealand suicide stats

The videos of the events looks like real fun - amazing work. If you’re interested in supporting James’ work, contact him via the YourCorps website.

Hidden gems

Couple of obscure ones this week:

  • ⬜What goes around…

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

More again next time.

Ngā mihi / Cheers

Ben

1

In person, go figure…

2

I contributed towards and edited a few.

3

…although sometimes I admit that discussions of Wardley Maps feel like the British comedy parlour game Mornington Crescent