Memia 2021.35: What's up with China?🇨🇳// the metaverse can be whatever you want it to be🥽// RIP TV📺// V2G OMG⚡// better than batteries?🔋🏗️// Jerry's brain🧠
Built on Ham and Cheese
Welcome to this week’s Memia newsletter - your regular scan across emerging tech, new ideas and thinking about the future … all the way from Aotearoa New Zealand.
In the last 7 days:
John McDermott pointed out another possible solution for our parliamentarians to meet virtually:
Joking aside, ICYMI last week I put in a submission to the Aotearoa Parliamentary Inquiry on Cryptocurrencies: Government should approach regulation of cryptocurrencies cautiously and with an open mind.
Thanks Matt Bishop for spotting that Aotearoa’s single dose vaccination rates overtook Australia a few days ago (graph animation - watch to the end).
Fundamentally reassuring that the lockdown response operates based on scientific data modelling advice like this from Te Pūnaha Matatini below — must have been hairy times for the PM and team on those peak days…
🦸So, Tāmaki Makaurau folks: hang in there in Level 4… looking like another couple of weeks right now…gratitude from all of us now down to Level “Delta 2”…!
🇨🇳What’s up with China?
The Chinese government has been rapidly ramping up regulation on a broad range of tech sector and cultural activity recently, prompting much rune-reading as to what’s actually going on:
Asserting itself into previously unregulated areas of the tech sector, examples:
Cracking down on private online tutoring
Regulating food delivery driver hours and working conditions
Publishing new rules aimed at tackling unfair competition and tech companies' handling of data.
…while also taking equity stakes and board seats at tech giants as several high-profile founders and CEOs step down
More or less simultaneously:
…this all comes as the education ministry introduced a new subject to the national school curriculum: “Xi Jinping Thought”.
South Africa’s Tech Central goes as far as to ask: is this a second Cultural Revolution?
Watching these developments with puzzlement…is a cultural dictatorship actually achievable in the 2020s with global satellite internet?
🥽The Metaverse can be whatever you want it to be
Tech philosopher-king Naval Ravikant doesn’t think much of Zuck’s future vision of drab virtual office rooms:
Following on from last week’s discussion on meta-metaverses, I dug a bit deeper into what are other virtual worlds are growing out there - quite a few it turns out:
VentureBeat reminds us that Linden Lab, the creator of the original virtual world, Second Life is still going strong after 18 years: Will the metaverse bring the second coming of Second Life?
Thanks also to Memia reader Ossie Amir for pointing me towards Cryptovoxels:
“Cryptovoxels is a virtual world and metaverse, powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Players can buy land and build stores and art galleries. Editing tools, avatars and text chat are built in.”
Here’s a map of all the islands, including the growing south-eastern outpost of Poneke:
(Screenshot walking around Poneke below).
While it looks a little Minecraft-y, if you wait around for a while the resolution can get pretty high indeed:
I had no idea that Cryptovoxels is conceived and built by Wellington-based Nolan Consulting, founded by “Memelord” Ben Nolan:
“Cryptovoxels started as a project to build a metaverse (ala Snowcrash or Ready Player One) on the web. It followed on from the authors earlier work on SceneVR and A-FrameVR. Upon realising the potential of a virtual world where land ownership was recorded on the Ethereum blockchain (using an ERC721 token), the author started full speed at building a user-editable world that doesn't require programming knowledge.
The project was first released behind a secret beta key in May 2018. The first land sales were made to the authors friends and advisors and June 2018…Betakey was removed and land sales were opened up to all comers in July 2018.”
Love it when I come across people quietly getting on with completely amazing, world-class work right here in Aotearoa…
Room for only a few future signals links this week… be sure to follow @Memialabs on Twitter for regular shared links throughout the week.
The Spinoff’s Duncan Grieve and data journalist Harkanwal Singh unpick the massive new NZ on Air “Where are the Audiences?” survey, revealing just how rapidly audiences under 40 have migrated away from TV to online.
Great analysis and visuals: it bemuses me how come TV and radio advertising spend stays up when audiences are clearly going down…?
The UK’s energy regulator Ofgem is proposing a new Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) initiative for the nation, so that local utilities draw power from the batteries of electric cars when demand peaks - which, in turn, allows them to avoid powering up so-called “peaker plants” - typically gas-fired thermal generating stations that otherwise sit idle. Here in AoNZ as reported in Memia 2021.30 it’s often coal that’s used to cover winter power shortages…can we do this too?
🔋🏗️Better than batteries?
Let’s store energy by lifting concrete blocks with cranes. Sure, why not?
(One word: earthquakes.)
An idea which might transplant to Aotearoa more easily: Scottish tidal energy company Sustainable Marine has carried out testing on its new 4-metre carbon fibre tidal turbine rotors, proving they can survive for two decades in the field. (🎩Andrew Leckie for spotting).
The Cook Strait is just, like, *sitting there*.
Tickling the synapses this week…
William Gibson’s Neuromancer remains right near the top of my “best sci fi books ever” list. Canadian online magazine The Walrus describes how, 40 years after his breakout story Johnny Mnemonic, the “father of cyberpunk” remains one of the best writers around: Why William Gibson Is a Literary Genius.
🧠Also, literally mind expanding, Jerry’s Brain is a 22-years-and-counting mind map open to browse online:
“Imagine if you had all the things worth remembering over the past 22 years, some 412,000 items, all curated in one giant mind map.
I have that.
You can use it.”
Similar to what I’ve been prototyping with the Memia Knowledge Graph in Roam Research (subscribers only - you know you want to:)
🎩Thanks to top spotter Anna Pendergrast (again).
Lots going on this week… some people are definitely *more* productive in lockdown!
Matt Bartlett from the Faculty of Law at the newly named Waipapa Taumata Rau / University of Auckland makes some strong points in his latest Technocracy blog post: How Algorithms Can Make The Justice System Fairer: Reprogramming biased algorithms is much easier than reprogramming biased humans.
(Yep, I know, just confirms my biases…)
Last week I joined a well-attended McGuinness Institute webinar discussing the new long-term insights briefing (LTIB) obligations, which Government department CEOs must publish every three years, starting in 2022. Adapt Research’s Matt Boyd summarises the discussion and provides some of his own (typically on point) suggestions: Few in the public sector foresaw Covid-19, what are we not seeing next?
In parallel, the McGuinness Institute published a new Discussion Paper: A COVID-19 Situational Report: Beyond Aotearoa New Zealand’s Fortress. Founder Wendy McGuinness summarises:
“The paper moves from a global analysis (what we know we know, the known unknowns and of course the unknown unknowns), to the implications for Aotearoa New Zealand. We explore constitutional stress and suggest a non-partisan solution in the form of an independent foresight organisation.”
Some really well researched and insightful thinking in here, worth spending the time to absorb into your model of how things might play out in the next few years… gonna be a wild ride....
To finish, three varied gems which turned up in this week’s catch:
How do the world’s supply chains actually hang together? Manifest is an early attempt to visualize them based on openly available data.
European civilisation is built on ham and cheese, for real. (Click for full thread, entertaining and fascinating in equal measure):
Race you to the pub:
That’s a wrap for another week…thanks as always for getting in touch with your thoughts, feedback, links - appreciated! And please add your comments below if anything catches your attention this week.
Again, *thank you* and stay well Tāmaki Makaurau whanau, 🤞 for an early end to Level 4 for you.