Memia 2021.46: Tech island utopia?🏝️🕵️// no-queue-r code🔳// cool desert❄️🏜️// 5G mining⚒️📶// haptic happiness👋// redefine meat🥩
All join in with the metachorus
Welcome to this week’s Memia newsletter - scanning across emerging tech and the unfolding future, from Aotearoa New Zealand.
A special haere mai to a large number of new subscribers this week … thanks for being here! (What took you so long?😜) Remember to follow Memia on Twitter and LinkedIn for regular links / updates as well.
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(Some extra backstory here: A Video of a Cat Drinking Milk Inspired the Most Epic Musical Performance.)
Also in the last week:
Tech journalist Peter Griffin covered my submission to the national security LTIB in BusinessDesk: Our overreliance on Big Tech is a national security threat ($walled).
Te Whare Wananga o Waikato / University of Waikato’s Reuben Steff also put in a submission:
“The international system is moving inextricably towards a greater period of instability and uncertainty...When we combine the sheer number of interconnections, activity, complexity, and New Zealand’s over-dependence on international connections/logistics chains to drive its economy, all of this adds up to a recipe for more global shocks on a more regular basis in the years to come. It is not outside the realm of possibility that the confluence of negative trends, great power competition, and more predictable and unpredictable global events or developments...could occur and intersect to threaten our seemingly secure and stable position down here and challenge our growth-led way of life.”
As the country gears up for the just-announced nationwide 3 December “traffic lights” system go-live, there are (obviously) lots of uncertainties about how the vaccine passes will operate in daily life. After day 1 overload issues, the My Vaccine Pass system seems to be working smoothly, I was able to download mine into my GPay wallet, took all of 1 minute.
.…At least two significant questions arising, though:
(1) What is stopping users just screenshotting someone else’s pass?
(2) How is the system going to be actively enforced?
Singapore is ahead of us on (1) - their equivalent TraceTogether app has rolled out an animated otter together with green or white backgrounds to ease COVID checks and protect against screenshotting:
…an animated kiwi would be easy enough, right?
(…Also see below about the more dystopian aspects of Singapore’s paternalistic surveillance state…)
As for (2), Chris Werry suggests adopting a German approach:
As I’ve expressed before, despite inevitable teething issues still to come, I’m admiring of how rapidly the MoH digital team (with support from private firms including Rush Digital and Mattr) have managed to get this tech deployed and working onto so many citizens’ phones. This stuff is not easy, particularly under the relentlessly outraged spotlight of mainstream media.
Hopefully many lessons learned to pass on to the rest of government and accelerate digital services rollout next year. (Anyone under 30 is just bemused by callcentres and manually filling in PDF forms which duplicate information the state already holds. “Accessibility” needs to apply to both younger as well as older generations - Gen Z (and me too!) just can’t use the current Govt UI!)
After a deluge of high profile tech developments over the last few months, this week has felt quieter than usual. Calm before the storm maybe…
🏝️🕵️Tech island utopia?
Rest Of World is a refreshing journalistic voice, “documenting what happens when technology, culture and the human experience collide, in places that are typically overlooked and underestimated”.
This article delves deeply into the modern society petridish that is the technophilic island nation of Singapore:
“[The] government’s ambitions have grown since . Under a “30 by 2030” initiative, vertical and smart farming will produce 30% of the country’s nutritional needs by the end of the decade, up from the current 10%. More than 100,000 “smart lamp posts” will monitor traffic and environmental conditions (and people). In a rapidly ageing population, robots will help the elderly stay fit, healthy and upright. A nationwide biometric database will speed up processing at the already snappy border points, and improve security at banks and public services.”
However, the darker side of this story is a growing imbalance between ubiquitous state surveillance and individual privacy.
New tech adoption is happening in the UK hospitality sector in response to staff shortages and pandemic restrictions. Customers at cafes and restaurants can now avoid queuing, order and pay from their table just by scanning a QR code.
I remember having exactly this software startup idea around 10 years ago when QR codes — “2D barcodes” as we called them then — were just starting to get consumer device support and it seemed a blindingly obvious use case… but at the time no hospo businesses were interested in being early adopters…(as usual, way too far ahead of the market…)
Another clear sign that the pandemic is forcing digital innovation onto otherwise change-resistant sectors. Expect apps like this to roll out across all Aotearoa hospo in the next year…
Saudi Arabian researchers have developed a NESCOD (“No Electricity and Sustainable Cooling-On-Demand”) system which runs only on sunlight, a potential replacement for air conditioners and electric fans which account for 10% of the world’s electricity consumption (a number expected to grow as average global temperatures rise).
China has switched off crypto mining, but is happily rolling out remote mining over 5G:
I gave a shout out to Aotearoa MoCap hardware startup StretchSense a few weeks ago… meanwhile Meta’s new haptic glove prototype points to even more realistic VR experiences:
Meanwhile… a robotic thumb prosthetic can give you 6 digits on each hand.
🏗️More charter cities
Further details on Praxis (covered in Memia 2021.42): Building the city-cryptostate to realize a more vital future.
🥽More metaverse $millions
Gemini (Winklevoss Twins investment vehicle) raises US$400 Million to build a metaverse outside Facebook’s walled garden
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Fortnite developer Epic Games says the Metaverse is a multitrillion-dollar opportunity.
The Guardian’s Zoe Williams does a taste test with the latest 3D-printed plant-based steak from Marco Pierre White-championed Redefine Meat:
“the resemblance to meat, in the grain, the way it pulls apart, the mouthfeel, is absolutely uncanny.”
A couple of longer form think-pieces to share this week:
Futurist author and former Managing Editor of Wired Magazine Peter Leyden was pretty spot on with his predictions for 2000-2020 back in 1997:
harper 🤯 @harperhttps://t.co/ugsounFGiv
Earlier this year, Leyden presented to The Long Now Foundation, making the case that we are in the early stages of another tech and economic boom in the next 30 years that will help solve our era’s biggest challenges like climate change, and lead to a societal transformation that will be understood as civilizational change by the year 2100. Uplifting.
Essential reading, Karen Hao in MIT Technology Review goes deep into How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation:
“The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world… MIT Technology Review has found that the problem is now happening on a global scale. Thousands of clickbait operations have sprung up, primarily in countries where Facebook’s payouts provide a larger and steadier source of income than other forms of available work. Some are teams of people while others are individuals, abetted by cheap automated tools that help them create and distribute articles at mass scale. They’re no longer limited to publishing articles, either. They push out Live videos and run Instagram accounts, which they monetize directly or use to drive more traffic to their sites.”
Congratulations to lawyer and Seeds Podcast host Steven Moe who recently released his new book of essays: Laying Foundations for Reimagining Business:
“Steven reimagines better businesses, with keen insights, practical ideas and deep humanity.”
— Shamubeel Eaqub, Sense Partners
(Free to download from the link above).
Bubbling up into my feeds this week:
How fragile we are
Aotearoa’s national security dependency upon a very small number of undersea fibre optic cables is laid out in plain sight in this hypnotic animation (with the earth spinning backwards for some reason):
Got my Big D
My top pop song of 2021 by far from UK indie twosome Wet Leg. Check out the attitude on this:
All join in with the metachorus
🤯Final profound words this week go to Kelly Pendergrast:
That’s a wrap for yet another week…not long until Summer holidays! As always 🙏🙏🙏 to everyone who reaches out and gets in touch with thoughts, feedback, links, appreciated!