Memia 2021.20: Aotearoa's future economy🌏// not enough people?🧑🤝🧑// next "next"⏩// waiting game⏲️// augmented dexterity🧠🤏🦾
⬜Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility
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!
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”
“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.
This week’s drum rhythms beating backwards in time:
Simon Wardley, cerebral creator of the insight-generating strategy technique Wardley Mapping3 has put together an updated survey of How Organisations Are Changing - the next “next” generation. Findings summarised in the table below - spot any organisations you know?
The week in Crypto
A few weeks ago I covered the launch of BitClout, one of the first decentralised social media networks. The full open source code has now been released - Balaji S summarises why this is important in the medium term:
China upped its ban on finance firms servicing crypto transactions (so how do they intend to deal with decentralised exchanges I wonder…?)
Crowdsourced strategic consultancy Wikistrat ran an online simulation which explored scenarios on the potential implications of sovereign investors – central banks, sovereign wealth funds, etc – investing in Bitcoin in the upcoming 10 years. Insightful.
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?
Europe's largest concrete 3D printer was used to build an elegant, two-storey, 90sqm dwelling in Belgium:
Snap Inc. is staying in the AR specs game with the developer-only release of its next generation Spectacles:
More artificial food
This time: lab grown caviar.
US company TuSimple claimed that its autonomous trucks saved 10 hours off what's normally a 24-hour job on a 1500Km trucking route from Arizona to Oklahoma.
A newly created micro-architected hydrogel membrane material, with tiny structures inspired by the shape of cactus spines - can gather drinkable water from the air both day and night:
Eye-widening article in Stuff from Tom Pullar-Strecker: Aotearoa’s internet hangs off just 20 strands of glass fibre, each about the thickness of a human hair. Fragile we are.
Further to last week’s link on Transhumanism, Memia reader Tom Isaacson pointed me to the excellent short story MMAvecado, which begins:
“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.
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.
Couple of obscure ones this week:
⬜What goes around…
How much waste plastic does Britain dump overseas? Quite a lot, it turns out:
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
In person, go figure…