Memia 2021.25: Washing Windows🧽🪟// FLoC up🤬// tropical forest eco-town🏡// green stress-testing🤢♨️// China on Mars🚀🇨🇳// brainy life extension🧠// ovine fluid dynamics🐑

Fresh meat from the factory🥩

Kia ora and welcome to this week’s regular Memia scan across the latest emerging tech and thinking about the future, as always with a focus on relevance for Aotearoa New Zealand.

Roundup

  • Memia 2021.25 - half way through the year! (Reminder, if you enjoy these weekly posts in your inbox, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription, it helps me to put more time into researching and writing, *PLUS* you will be just in time to get access to the new Memia knowledge graph in Roam Research, launching in beta this week). Get 20% off an annual paid subscription - only NZ$79 - by clicking the button below. Thank you!🙏

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  • The most clicked link in the last issue (by far - 19% of openers) was the video of the 10-storey building being constructed in one day. Amazing. Perhaps a quick way of filling in those heritage Wellington suburbs…?🤭

  • I’m up bright and early this morning (Wed 30th) speaking about Emerging Tech and Digital Marketing at the TechMarketers conference in Tāmaki Makaurau, looking forward to seeing a few familiar faces there.

  • Also Memia is going onto Clubhouse… join me1 next Friday 9th July at 12:30pm NZT for a live conversation with Kiwi investor Oliver Bruce (@oliverbruce) about recent innovations in micromobility, crypto and decentralised IoT networks like Helium, among other topics...

[Weak] signals

A lot of stuff on the wires this week, so straight into it.

🧽🪟Washing Windows

🤬FLoC Up

  • Google announced a near 2-year delay to the rollout of its FLoC proposed alternative to 3rd party cookies in Chrome browser.

    • Many other browsers now block 3rd-party cookies by default… which makes 1st-party data (eg getting to know the customers who visit your website much better) much more important for marketers.

    • It’s really easy to manually block 3rd party cookies in Chrome (Settings | Privacy and Security) - I’ve been blocking for over 3 months now and haven’t noticed any significant difference in service. If anything, I’ve probably bought a bit less and spent a bit more intentionally, not having my brainstem under constant assault2.

    • Consensus from everyone I read on this is that no-one knows where this privacy vs. ad targeting debate is going to end up. The more I think on it, this could really be an existential moment for digital targeting, period… almost every ad profiling technique that’s been built up over the last 20 years is now broken if personally identifiable data can’t be shared across sites.

    • …And that may actually make room to fix the original sin of the the internet (eg missing core micropayments infrastructure), forcing more transparent value exchange instead of relying on surveillance-targeted advertising business models for funding.

🏡Tropical forest eco-town

  • A new 42,000-home “forest” eco-town in Singapore, Tengah, will be the 24th new settlement built by Singapore's government since WW2, including centralised cooling, automated rubbish collection and a car-free town centre.

🤢♨️Green stress testing

“We just got a sneak-peek of some of the implications in a recent exercise undertaken by the French central bank. First, insurers were far more affected than banks. The exercise suggested that extreme weather could quintuple the cost of related insurance claims by 2050. According to the Banque de France, covering these losses would require premiums to increase by 130-200 per cent. The tests also raise the spectre of insurance gaps emerging as it becomes uneconomic to insure.”

- Central banking adviser Huw van Steenis writing in the FT

📉Crypto down but not out

  • As the world’s cryptocurrencies enjoy their latest downcycle, VC behemoth Andreesen Horowitz are all in, launching their US$2.2Bn Crypto Fund III:

    “We believe that the next wave of computing innovation will be driven by crypto. We are radically optimistic about crypto’s potential to restore trust and enable new kinds of governance where communities collectively make important decisions about how networks evolve, what behaviors are permitted, and how economic benefits are distributed.”

  • Meanwhile the Bank of International Settlements greenlighted CBDCs, saying they are needed to modernise finance and “ensure 'Big Tech' does not take control of money”.

    • Palestine is the latest state to be considering launching their own digital currency. Still not a peep out of RBNZ, although hints of movement later this year

🥩Fresh meat from the factory

  • Israel is the first country to start manufacturing synthetic meat at scale:

    “[Future Meat Technologies] says its process also generates 80 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, uses 99 percent less land and 96 percent less freshwater than typical meat production.”

🚀🇨🇳China on Mars

A convoy of stories this week about China’s accelerating space efforts:

  • Permanent Mars Base planned:

  • China wants to build a 'sky ladder' to Mars that can “beam humans and cargo up in a capsule”

  • Closer to today’s reality, the recent Chinese space missions have been running on top of the new Kylin operating system which replaces Western OSes. An example of classic military / space innovation spending driving consumer benefits downstream…

👁️‍🗨️China AI 2021

  • A writeup on Wu Dao 2.0, China's gigantic multi-modal AI - with 1.75 trillion parameters, roughly 10X the size of Open AI's GPT-3.

  • In China’s Paper Tiger Surveillance State, Isabel Ivanescu and Robert Carlson argue that The CCP’s pervasive surveillance apparatus is a sign not of strength, but of fragility, echoing the unforeseen collapse of Eastern European communist states in the late 1980s.

🧠Brainy life extension

  • Profile below of US serial entrepreneur Bryan Russell, seen here modelling the new *non-invasive* brain-computer-interface helmet from his self-funded startup Kernel…

  • Bryan’s blog is also well worth a read: in particular his post Autonomous Self details his continuous search for automating self-improvement and life extension. (At 43, his daily health regime has him with aging biomarkers placing him closer to 30…oh, to have hundreds of millions of dollars…).

    • Contains this great quote:

“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” A. N. Whitehead

  • Also on the topic of life extension, another story of how rapidly precision medical science is advancing: a 65-year-old Irishman had the rare inherited fatal genetic disease transthyretin amyloidosis cured by CRISPR gene editing therapy.

📜Incorporation as code

This is so obvious when you think about it3, and elegantly illustrated by Omar Bohsali using the Terraform configuration language:

Mind expanding

  • Thanks to Sam Ragnarsson for flagging this amazing post (from 2015 but still totally relevant) from Bret Victor, What Can A Technologist Do About Climate Change? Full of data and insightful takes on new ways to think about the problems, just one example:

“There are many reasons, of course, why organizations tend not to publicize their problems. But in a planetary crisis, the “secretive competitive company” might not be the ideal organizing structure for human effort. In an admirable gesture of global goodwill, Tesla recently “open-sourced” their patents, but patents represent solutions. What if there were some way Tesla could reveal their open problems?”

  • From Stuff, probably the most engaging piece of interactive visual journalism I’ve ever seen, by Charlie Mitchell and Alden Williams, great work:

Rollcall

Around the motu this week:

  • The McGuiness Institute continues its work as pretty much Aotearoa’s only foresight-focused think tank, its latest discussion paper, Mission Aotearoa: Mapping Our Future features contributions from local and international thinkers (including the authoritative Mariana Mazzucato, professor of economics and innovation at UCL).

  • Another decicorn: Global investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR) announced it would take a majority stake in Dunedin-based EdTech firm Education Perfect, valuing it at NZ$455million and enabling the EP team (“EPeeps”) to double down on global growth plans.

  • Weta Digital and Autodesk launched the new WetaM Creative Cloud Service, enabling access to Weta’s proprietary VFX tools:

Hidden gems

Spotted this week:

  • It’s quiet at 3:37am in the sky above Aotearoa4:

  • A book containing augmented reality generative AI art:

Thanks as ever for getting in touch with thoughts, links and feedback - always appreciated, keep them coming!

And if you enjoy Memia, please take the time to share with a friend in Aotearoa or around the 🌎🌍🌏.

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Ngā mihi

Ben

1

If you aren’t already on the Clubhouse closed invite beta I have a few invites left, tap me up…

2

Although noting that Google still gets to use all my data as “1st party” on all their services.

3

The opening scenes of Charles Stross’ Accelerando contain similar ideas.

4

Also… Siberia!