Memia 2021.39: Level 3 with picnics (and hunting!?)🥪🦌// it works!✅// Próspera or Pandora?🏗️// disintermediating politicians🗳️//quantum brilliance⚛️//AUKU$🤦
💡Little-known hacker technique known as "right click -> save as"
Welcome to the latest Memia newsletter - a weekly scan across emerging tech and new thinking about the future from Aotearoa. Thanks for being here!
🖱️The two most clicked links in the last issue (11% of openers each) were Sahil Bloom’s thread on global supply chain disruption and Japanese queing (again).
Briefly, events in the last week:
🥪🦌Level 3 with picnics (and hunting!?)…🙏feeling it more than ever for Tāmaki Makaurau (and now Waikato) folks.
😵Like everyone I’m still absorbing the full implications of the (sudden but inevitable) national Covid strategy shift from elimination to suppression. A rising tide can only be held back for so long. Time to dig in for a long, long game…
💸AT LAST Te Pūtea Matua / RBNZ is consulting on the future of money and a national digital currency, releasing two issues papers and inviting submissions by 6th December:
“A Central Bank Digital Currency would see the features and benefits of cash enjoyed in the digital world, working alongside cash and private money held in commercial bank accounts. It could make for much more efficient and integrated platforms benefitting individuals and businesses, as well as protecting monetary sovereignty. However, any decision to issue a CBDC would need to carefully consider operational risks, such as cyber security, and impacts on the financial sector.”
- RBNZ Assistant Governor Christian Hawkesby
Of course, I will be submitting.
Finally, I hope you can join me on Twitter Spaces this Friday 12:30pm NZ time for the first Memia AMA in a while - link below. Feel free to get in touch with any topics you’d like to discuss.
After Air New Zealand’s announcement that it will be requiring proof of vaccination for international travel, I was planning to write something sceptical on the likelihood of a government-issued vaccine passport app being achievable on time.
But yesterday Shayne Hunter and his team at MoH proved my doubting wrong, releasing the first beta of “My Covid Vaccination Record”: https://app-beta.covid19.health.nz/
(2nd dose next week…counting down…)
Yes, the RealMe sign-in UX is still painful as ever but the direct “My Health” identification route using a passport worked really well. AND now I finally know where to find my NHI number…
Given that (for obvious reasons) ID hasn’t been required when getting your vaxx, there will always be some unfixable flaws in the overall integrity the system. But for the majority of users needing the simplest of solutions to a complex, scaled problem, this looks like it will work really well.
Reflection: Covid has clearly accelerated digital transformation throughout parts of Aotearoa’s government - health in particular. Now, at the end of 2021, most of the population has a state-provided privacy-compliant tracer app on their phone. The government has also had to rapidly stand up and iterate nationwide online services for booking vaccinations and MIQ… all under the most relentless and unforgiving media scrutiny.
Once this vaccination passport service is fully deployed onto people’s phones, this will no doubt also provide a national platform for access to personal health records as well. Something I wasn’t envisioning until closer to 2030…
AND all in plenty of time for next year’s Health NZ consolidation. Impressive work by the digital team at MoH.
(Will the rest of government seize on this momentum and leverage off these capabilities? Or are we destined for another 5+ years of RealMe-style UX…)
🏗️Próspera or Pandora?
Próspera is a new “Sustainable Development Platform” building a brand new Charter City on the island of Roatán, Honduras:
“Próspera partners with governments like Honduras to promote and operate Economic Development Hubs - similar to Special Economic Zones (SEZ). These hubs are integrated with local communities and have semi-autonomous governance and regulation.
With a common law legal framework, familiar and flexible regulations, a bill of rights, low taxation, and protections for the environment, Próspera enables entrepreneurs to solve problems structurally and responsibly for the people of Honduras and the rest of the world.”
(The Próspera Charter declares that income taxes cannot exceed 10%.)
A state within a state? Perhaps more like a prototype node of a network state.
The architectural visualisations of the first buildings from Zaha Hadid Architects are impressive, with a promise of entirely new innovative construction methodologies and materials:
And similar to Estonia, Próspera is offering “e-residency” with the following benefits:
“Become an e-Resident and grow your business in a transparent and innovative economic zone.
Manage your businesses anywhere in the world.
Get to access Prospera ZEDE area in Roatan, 180 days per 12 month term.”
Basically: work remotely for half the year on a tropical island…and claim 10% taxation regardless of wherever else you travel that year.
Independent Substacker Scott Alexander has gone into deep analytical detail in a mostly sympathetic piece Prospectus On Próspera, really worth the long read:
“[Próspera is] getting some funding from Pronomos Capital, who are exactly the sort of people you would expect to see founding their own city. Pronomos is a group of Silicon Valley libertarians interested in competitive governance; their site predicts "crowd choice in governance providers, new startup societies approved by existing states, and completely new developments in unclaimed areas such as the high seas or celestial bodies"
An alternative take, especially relevant in light of this week’s massive Pandora Papers data leak, is that charter cities and network states like Próspera are new financial tax minimisation plumbing being constructed by the world’s richest to sequester and move wealth outside the reach of major national tax jurisdictions.
(And what exactly could major tax jurisdictions do about it?)
I’m keeping an eye on this too: the government is launching a sweeping review of the country's electoral laws including voting age, the three-year term, party funding and the infamous "coat-tailing" rule.
Whatever fine tuning of current MMP election rules makes the headlines, the biggest concern on my mind is the general consensus on extending a government’s electoral term from 3 years to 4 years. In these times of accelerating technology-driven change, I feel like a lone voice out there saying “NO! Change UP the frequency of elections to enable government to be MORE responsive to change, not less!”
(Yes there’s a balance between stability (/inertia) and agility (/reactivity)…but the current three-years-two-parties-one-bureaucracy system is just perpetually futureshocked.)
Although clearly not on any mainstream politician’s agenda, this review does provide an opportunity to modernize Aotearoa’s electoral technology and introduce significant aspects of Liquid Democracy:
Liquid Feedback is one popular open source democracy software platform already used by “pirate” (direct/liquid democracy) political parties in Europe:
“[Liquid Feedback] facilitates an integrated deliberation process to empower citizens, members, and employees to participate in democratic decisions important to their organizations. Liquid Feedback promotes democratic participation and self-organization to redefine the future of society”
Nonetheless, keeping an eye to see if the forthcoming electoral review (unwittingly?) tilts the playing field more in favour of minor parties…and if so, whether software like Liquid Feedback provides a low-cost, efficient way to establish and run a challenger political party…and even operationalise rapid coalitions between minor parties like (say) TOP, Sustainable NZ and Legalise Cannabis to get over the (5%/4%/3%?) MMP threshold.
Memia’s weekly curation of signals from near and far futures…
The Credit Suisse Research Institute Global Wealth Report 2021 shows total global wealth grew by 7.4% and wealth per adult reaching a record high of US$79,952. Aotearoa median wealth per adult now 4th highest in the world at US$171,620. Real estate price inflation a major contributor, of course.
Facebook had a seven-hour outage across all its platforms yesterday. Given the near-ubiquitous penetration of WhatsApp as the core messaging and calling platform across much of the developing world, this was the equivalent of “the internet going down” - and a wake up call for users (not to mention telecoms and internet regulators in those countries) that Facebook has effectively become a core public utility, but without local accountability.
With perfect timing, The Atlantic explores the theme more deeply in “The Largest Autocracy on Earth”:
“Facebook requires a civil-defense strategy as much as regulation from the Securities and Exchange Commission.”
See also this revealing Platformer interview with WhatsApp head Will Cathcart: After a contentious year, candid talk on encryption, privacy, and ProPublica
😢World’s first ransomware death?
The WSJ reports on the case of the first alleged death caused by ransomware in 2019: A Hospital Hit by Hackers, a Baby in Distress. (Is there a translation into Russian?)
Quantum Brilliance was founded in 2019 based on research out of Australian National University - they have developed techniques to manufacture, scale and control qubits embedded in synthetic diamond, which work in a rack-sized device at room temperature … and soon they'll be small enough for mobile devices.
Two pieces of recommended longer reading this week:
A sobering conversation with former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in The Atlantic: Misinformation Is About to Get So Much Worse.
And given all the hype about decentralised applications (DApps), what exactly is the architecture of a Web 3.0 application?
(For nostalgia, go back to this original article by Tim O’Reilly from 2005: Web 2.0.)
Around the motu:
Janine Grainger, CEO and co-founder of fast-growing Aotearoa crypto exchange EasyCrypto has also co-founded the new Vault International Bitcoin Fund - the first locally regulated retail fund to have its entire allocation invested in crypto.
Why? Well mostly it solves the custody issue for investors…losing the keys to your wallet becomes someone else’s problem.
I don’t normally include job ads but I noticed that EasyCrypto are hiring a CTO: unique opportunity for someone with the right crypto skills and experience. (Just don’t mention DEXs in the interview…)🤐
Also, Te Whanganui-a-Tara based fractional investing startup fintech Hatch has been sold by its parent Kiwi Wealth to global funds management service company FNZ with a view to accelerating growth.
A couple of more light hearted links to end with:
💡Right click → save as…
The definitive tweet on NFTs:
More top quality satire from TheJuiceMedia: Pretty much everything you need to know about Australia’s *confused* foreign policy in 3 minutes:
That’s all for another week…thanks as always for getting in touch with your thoughts, feedback, links - appreciated as ever.
Hope to see you on Twitter Spaces for the AMA on Friday!