Memia 2021.50: 2021 wrapup: a year of living with constant uncertainty🦠💉😷// protocol politics#️⃣🗳️// the AI did it🤖// kicking gopher butt🦵// quantum-entangled tardigrade⚛️
Upgrade The Future
Welcome to the final weekly Memia newsletter of 2021…scanning across emerging technology and globally accelerating change from Aotearoa New Zealand.
👹(MONSTER read this week - the end-of-year Memia 2021 wrapup is - obviously! - too big to fit into an email so see summary and link below. But first…)
Annual subscription offer for 2022
At the end of another year, I’d like to say a huge thank you to all Memia readers in 2021, and in particular paid subscribers. Your contribution has really helped me to put in the effort to writing and curating the newsletter each week. Ka pai!
If you enjoy receiving the regular Memia newsletter you will continue to get [Weak] signals and other regular sections for free to your email account each week in 2022.
Going forward, Memia also has three paid subscription options and more content will be moving “below the paywall fold” to enable me to continue to put in the time required to deliver quality and quantity:
Annual: Standard annual subscription for individuals: NZ$99 annually. This will include deeper analysis in 2022 as well as the regular Memia content, together with access to Memia Knowledge Graph in Roam Research. If you are currently a free subscriber, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription for 2022: take advantage of this annual subscription offer of 20% off annual subscriptions is available until 17 Jan here:
Monthly: The standard individual monthly subscription: $10 monthly - which gives you a bit more flexibility to start / stop your subscriptions.
Memia Founding Member subscription: NZ$299 annually, or another amount at your discretion - for those who really love the Memia newsletter, or read it in a professional setting in which you regularly pay for subscriptions, please consider signing up for the Memia Founding Member option.
For corporate or group subscriptions, please get in touch.
(And also crypto payments are accepted and can be sent to memia.eth - just drop me a line if this is your preferred option).
Equity above all - if personal circumstances don’t let you to take out a paid subscription right now, just reach out and I’ll sort it, no questions asked.
Also in the last week…
Journalist Simon Wilson’s end of year piece “Rise Up Better” in the NZ Herald (paywalled, sorry) is a comprehensive and thoughtful reflection on Aotearoa’s national response to the pandemic going in 2022. 👏
And last week a new Memia logo, this week a new website!
Memia 2021 Wrapup: A year of living with constant uncertainty🦠💉😷
Wow, where did the year go…? Last year’s end-of-year post: Memia 2020 wrapup: Top 10 themes from a year of tumultuous change🌊💥🤯 seems like from an age ago.
(Hard to believe that at the beginning of this year, the divisive Donald Trump was still in office in the US and an attempted coup at the Capitol on January 6th could have overturned the election result… how different would the world be if that had happened?
Since then thankfully the US has somewhat restored itself as a more consistent and reliable international citizen under the Biden administration. But the world will still be looking ahead to the US 2024 presidential election with some trepidation.)
This is just one example of how in 2021 it felt like the world was living with constant uncertainty:
A mutating virus repeatedly forcing lockdowns and rapid public health policy changes affecting everyone’s ability to plan ahead.
Waves of misinformation about vaccine safety sweeping across social media platforms, mostly contained but giving the first indications of what a “post-truth” society might look like.
Increasing risks from extreme weather events and ongoing climate change
Heightened geopolitical tensions as global powers reconfigured themselves for a 21st century where control of the tech stack is paramount.
This year I have covered incredibly diverse subject matter in the weekly Memia newsletter, all under the banner of “sense-making emerging technology and globally accelerating change”. Trying to pull this together into an overarching narrative for the year has been a real challenge - but there are several themes where I think I have spotted broader patterns and insights about the future from events and innovations occurring throughout the year.
It has been a relentlessly hard year for nearly everyone - but overall I remain optimistic for 2022. Fundamentally: we’re all getting better at adapting to the uncertainty, thinking longer term and anticipating previously unforeseeable scenarios. With change and uncertainty comes opportunity: maybe 2022 will be a year of accelerated innovation to start solving some of the intractable global and local challenges we face.
So, below my roundup of the year in ten themes:
🔥🌊🌪️How to change climate change?
🦠💉Covid-19: what doesn’t kill you mutates and tries again
🌊Existential risks in focus
⛓️The great decoupling
🚀🛰️Space: no longer the final frontier
🌏👓Changing identity and place
💡⚡Accelerating technology innovation
💎The internet is magic sometimes
Take a read of the full post on Memia’s Substack site here: Memia 2021 Wrapup: A year of living with constant uncertainty. It’s a biggie.
Meanwhile, just a few signals spotted this week in the run up to Christmas…
Three pieces of juxtaposed foreign policy analysis with strikingly different viewpoints on future geopolitics between states, technology giants and decentralised tech (unfortunately all paywalled):
Ian Bremner: The Technopolar Moment — How Digital Powers Will Reshape the Global Order
Stephen Walt: Big Tech Won’t Remake the Global Order — If you had to bet on which will shape the future, the smart money would be on states over technology.
Balaji Srinivasan and Parag Shanna argue for a third alternative: Great Protocol Politics — The 21st century doesn’t belong to China, the United States, or Silicon Valley. It belongs to the internet
“A government that doesn’t understand the digital may not be able to control the physical”.
As I wrote in the 2021 Wrapup, It is increasingly apparent that control of the tech stack = control of future sovereignty. Time for some Aotearoa strategy here?
↔️A long straight line under the sea
NZ-founded Hawaiiki has been awarded a contract by Chile’s government to help design an undersea cable linking South America, Aotearoa and Australia.
🤖The AI did it
🦵Kicking gopher butt
Deepmind have released a new language model “Gopher” which, er, outperforms OpenAI’s GPT-3.
The long-delayed James Webb Space Telescope is finally due to launch from French Guyana on Friday.
A note on personal productivity
I’ve benefitted from two step-change productivity hacks which I thought I’d share at the end of the year:
First of all, who’d have guessed it, I’ve discovered I’m a morning person. My most productive time of day is between my first and second long macchiato of the day, usually around 7:30am1. Blocking out my calendar for “me time” from 7-10am (*unless* I’m on a call with US West Coast, natch…) has been transformational for uninterrupted thinking and GSD…if only I’d learned this trick 20 years ago.
Complementary to this has been discovering the amazing Roam Research as a tool to manage all of my daily tasks, workflows, note taking and links in one place2. My various Roam graph databases have developed into an amazing “2nd brain” which now enables me to get detailed fact recall across almost every aspect of work and personal life in seconds… truly augmented intelligence! Here’s my daily workflow / todo / contact graph after 1 year:
(The Memia Knowledge Graph in Roam is available to paid subscribers and has all newsletters and other writing indexed and linked together - I used it extensively when putting together the 2021 Wrapup post… amazing to be able to find things I wrote about in seconds every time).
Aotearoa-based twin brothers Alexey and Afanasiy Ushnisky, originally from Yakutsk in Siberia, are the founders of international games company Mytona. Venturebeat covers their new metaverse project Mytonaverse which is being built from Aotearoa:
And a couple internet nuggets to finish the year with a chuckle.😀
Log4j herd immunity
Thanks as always for letting me into your inbox throughout 2021 and especially 🙏🙏🙏 to everyone who reaches out and gets in touch each week.
I’m taking a couple of weeks off for a summer break, taking a roadtrip exploring the West Coast of Te Waipounamu. Memia will be back online from January 12.
Best wishes for a relaxing and restorative summer break and I’m looking forward to another year of accelerating change in 2022!
Ngā mihi nui
Special thanks to C1 Espresso, Lyttelton Coffee Company, C4 Coffee and Addington Coffee Coop for the early starts and great coffee!