Horizons Newsletter – week 10 // 2020
Horizons is a bi-monthly Dasym Research initiative to show you how the Dasym themes have been in the news. We publish the Horizons on our website and as an email newsletter. If you wish to receive the email, please contact Investor Relations.
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At this year’s CES, the World Bank announced the Global tech challenge, a call on technology companies to create solutions to climate-related disasters. At the same time, massive bushfires were raging in Australia. As we have seen around the world, due to climate change (e.g. higher temperatures, drier conditions), wildfires are getting worse. Increasingly, firefighters are turning to technology to combat and limit the consequences: from GPS locators to track firefighters’ positions to satellites and algorithms that can be used in early detection systems. Still, the main challenge is to prevent fires from igniting in the first place. Initiatives are under way, for instance, using sensors to measure biomass of fallen branches and leaves to pinpoint dry forest areas that are susceptible to wildfires, or spraying a gel to make vegetation fire-resistant. Meanwhile, firefighters in the field need reliable tools and proven solutions. Scientists say climate change will increase the severity of natural catastrophes. With global climate-related costs reaching $150 billion in 2019, it is time for tech companies to take action.
During “normal” periods of technological innovation, cities, industries and countries follow a gradual and linear path of development. When radical technological breakthroughs occur (e.g. the steam engine, electricity, semiconductors), big opportunities arise for actors to “leapfrog” various stages of development using new technologies. Examples are South Korea’s electronic manufacturers leapfrogging into a leading position in digital TV; fintech solutions enabling Sub-Saharan African consumers to leapfrog traditional banking infrastructure; digital ridesharing helping Southeast Asians to skip “traditional car ownership”; and telemedicine providing poor and rural Rwandans with access to high-quality healthcare. Although many technologies can induce leapfrogging, digital technologies in particular foster this prospect. In the examples listed above disparate sources of information converge, thus lowering transaction costs and spreading disruption faster across space and time. Moreover, they require little investments from users to access services and obtain intelligence. Already, some new and radical innovations are in development (e.g. quantum computing, 5G, VR) and the countries, cities and companies that have the ability and institutions to adapt, could potentially jump into leadership positions.
A multipolar media world
The South-Korean film Parasite is the first non-English language film in the Oscar’s 92-year history to win the best picture award. In addition, it was first to win best international feature and best picture, and also picked up best director and best original screenplay awards. The success of Parasite is showing that audiences around the world are ready to watch non-English content, a trend that is also visible on the global streaming services. Although Netflix and Amazon Prime are primarily focused on American content, their selection of locally made programs is growing. Moreover, their non-English content is starting to make (Western) audiences comfortable with subtitles and investments in foreign-language content – particularly from Europe and Asia – are increasing. Popular culture like movies are considered important ‘soft power assets’ and as the world is reaching the end of the Atlantic era, American soft power might be increasingly challenged by soft power from other cultures. Indeed, Western streaming platforms are getting ready for this new ‘global cinema’ or multipolar media world reality.