Memia 2021.40: Picture, 1,000 words🖼️// keeping the climate ledger📒// trillion dollar $**tcoin💩🪙// helium goes 5G🎈// data to DNA, faster🧬// artificial womb🔧🤰// 3 thousand dreams💭
Aeonauts in their psychotronic armour, ready for travel
Welcome to the 40th(!) Memia newsletter of 2021 - scanning across emerging tech and thinking about the future from Aotearoa New Zealand.
(A somewhat “impressionistic” missive this week… lots going on, lots of links, still connecting the dots…)
Timing: the future of the RealMe service is under the spotlight as the forthcoming Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill approaches legislation. The fundamental question: in a small democracy like Aotearoa should there be one single government-run identity provider (à la Singapore) - or should government just step back to only regulating a framework for federated independent identity providers? Dry, dry subject matter…but fundamental to the architecture of future government digital services. (The Covid passport will be a tiny slice of government services needing identity in future…and *as demonstrated* a centralised identity service would be a massive single-point-of-failure…)
🖼️Picture, 1,000 words etc… (h/t @farmgeek):
Six bubbles: the McGuinness Institute published a strategy for “a human-centred approach that connects Aotearoa to the rest of the world”: Living With Covid in 2022:
📒Keeping the climate ledger
Carbon Brief published updated research on which countries are historically responsible for climate change?
“In total, humans have pumped around 2,500bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2) into the atmosphere since 1850, leaving less than 500GtCO2 of remaining carbon budget to stay below 1.5C of warming.
This means that, by the end of 2021, the world will collectively have burned through 86% of the carbon budget for a 50-50 probability of staying below 1.5C, or 89% of the budget for a two-thirds likelihood.”
(And guess which country produced most of it…?)
(🎩Andrew Leckie for the link).
Regardless of the historical injustice…this clip from American-Australian climate scientist Will Steffen’s latest presentation is stark on the survival prospects of large mammal life (=humans) in 2100: What is coming is beyond most people’s comprehension, including journalists.
💩🪙Trillion Dollar $**tcoin
And while the world accelerates towards burning point, the global financial system is FLEXING:
🔥Chinese Debt Crisis: Multiple Evergrande and now Modern Land (China) Co defaults… this could well be shaping up like 2008 all over again. (With knock on effects for Australia’s one-trick economy? … and no doubt Aotearoa’s too. Knife edge.
🧶Tethered: two posts (thanks Bernard Hickey and Brett Roberts for sharing) on the potential US$69 Billion black hole that is the crypto-stablecoin “Tether”:
Bloomberg: Anyone Seen Tether’s Billions?
A one-off post from “Crypto Anonymous” which contains deeper analysis on the suspicious trading patterns: The Bit Short: Inside Crypto’s Doomsday Machine
(Lots of Twitter comments along the lines of “how come this is allowed?” But at a macro level, to my eyes this opaque leveraging doesn’t seem massively different to the conventional banking system. (Being regulated didn’t stop Bear Stearns and Lehman Bros going under…).
(My thoughts always return to this infographic from 2020: the estimated notional value of all global derivatives adds up to US$1.0 quadrillion - dwarfing all of the wealth in the world… and there is no single ledger: no-one knows how they are all intertwined…)
💩🪙Trillion Dollar $**tcoin: In amongst all of this, some US senators seriously proposed bypassing the Fed and exercising a loophole in US law to mint a US$1 Trillion platinum coin as a solution to the US Government Debt Ceiling. I kid you not. (And they wonder why Bitcoin goes up?)
😵💫Theories of Interconnectivity…(Very smart and very funny) market polymath Kyla Scanlon has a number of Theories of Interconnectivity on what’s actually going on… (warning: Rabbit Hole!)
This week’s curation of signals from near and far futures…
Arguably more substantial news than anything else this month: Malaria kills about 500,000 people each year, about half of them children in Africa. The W.H.O announced the first approved Malaria vaccine - modeled to prevent 5.4 million cases and 23,000 deaths in children younger than 5 each year.
OECD countries agreed to a landmark deal on a global corporate tax rate of 15%. The deal also forces companies to pay taxes where they operate — not just where they have their head office. (The details are yet to be worked out before implementation in 2023…but In effect this should go some way to solving the local issue of US tech giants not paying taxes proportionate to their profits in Aotearoa).
Plumbing central banks
BIS-coordinated Project Dunbar brings together the central banks of Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa to test the use of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) for international settlements.
😬Jared A. Brock in his Surviving Tomorrow Substack has a starkly resonant take on house price inflation: This Real Estate Bubble Won't Pop:
“House prices are currently at an all-time high, but we are not in a real estate bubble — we’re in a pricing paradigm shift.
The old paradigm: A house’s price is the maximum amount that an area’s average local buyer can afford to mortgage over 25–40 years. But because wages have flatlined and purchasing parity is the same as in 1978, the only rational explanation for this current price explosion is a giant debt bubble… right?
The new paradigm: A house’s value is now the maximum amount of annual rental income that can be extracted from it by a global investor, multiplied by maximal institutional leverage. It’s the biggest paradigm shift in the history of human shelter, and it’s the reason why the vast majority will never own a house in the future.
Because our family homes are just future hedge fund investments.”
Facebook down, productivity up
🎈Helium goes 5G
FreedomFi shipped the first cryptocurrency incentivized 5G, CBRS-compatible gateways - for use on the new Helium decentralized open 5G network. This likely fundamentally changes the economics of commercial telco 5G investment going forward.
The USPS suspended mail deliveries to Aotearoa and 21 other countries due to “unavailability of transportation” last week.
Despite this, the FT reports that overall the worldwide supply chain crisis seems to be resolving itself as capacity rises and blockages unblock… but get ready for the inventory recession:
“When all the goods are delivered by those truck drivers coming out of retirement, there will be a huge global pile of stuff that will not be reordered soon.”
Network Nervous System
A key feature of the Internet Computer blockchain is the Network Nervous System (NNS), an open algorithmic governance system that oversees the network and the token economics. But how does it work?
🧬Data to DNA, faster
Scientists have created a crystal made solely from electrons.
Visions of The Matrix…
Benedict Evans deconstructs the Metaverse! Metaverse? Metaverse!!
“…all of this is rather like standing in front of a whiteboard in the early 1990s and writing words like interactive TV, hypertext, broadband, AOL, multimedia, and maybe video and games, and then drawing a box around them all and labelling the box ‘information superhighway’”
(The title reference is from the “Malkovich! Malkovich? Malkovich!” scene in Being John Malkovich…gratuitously linked below… one of the most surreally entertaining films ever, gotta watch it again soon…)
Shout-outs around the motu this week:
If you’ve ever been curious about the world of crypto but think it’s too hard/difficult/complicated to understand,.. Aotearoa-based Julie-Anne Chong’s Beginner Crypto Corner blog is a great place to start. Clear, concise and well-presented, this is a growing go-to library of accessible crypto knowledge.
Ōtautahi car parts AI startup Partly have raised a NZ$3.7M investment round at a whopping NZ$50M valuation - co-founder Levi Fawcett was an early engineer staffer at Rocket Lab and backers include Peter Beck.
Like tech? Love wine? Awesome Ōtepoti biotech startup Winely are hiring a Head of Engineering.
And for entertainment this week…
So you think you could be Aotearoa’s PM during a pandemic? Schoolteacher Peter Wills’ text adventure This Is A Covid-19 Announcement is both serious and hilarious… (spoiler: no-one wins, but “Your cousin who is a campaigner for The Opportunities Party tells you how upset he was the banning cats referendum didn't pass"🤣).
“have the GAN dream up images using natural language with a one-line command in the terminal.”
Just a couple of examples (there are over 100 so far):
(2nd one complete with pink suitcases!). Hours of artistic appreciation and musing about just *how* this generative AI thinks...
That’s a wrap for another week…as always thanks to everyone who gets in touch with thoughts, feedback, links each week - always appreciated, keep’em coming.