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

Kia ora,

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…)

Roundup


📒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…)


[Weak] signals

This week’s curation of signals from near and far futures…

Malaria down

Taxes up

  • 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.

No banks?

  • At the other end of the spectrum, Bankless DAO is a decentralized community with one mission: Help the world #gobankless.

No bubble?

“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?

Wrong.

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

Inventory recession?

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

💎Weird crystal

🔧🤰Artificial womb

Visions of The Matrix…


🧠Mind expanding

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…)


Rollcall

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.

Hidden gems

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"🤣).

  • 🔢💭@3thousanddreams is a collection of “visual dreams of future histories” by Sydney-based designer Peter Bentley using the Big-Sleep “lucid dream” GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) AI library:

“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.

Ngā mihi

Ben