Moving Right Along
Tippets #175: China, India, formula and more. Enjoy!
A warm welcome to you new readers who are getting this for the first time. Thank you for letting me be a small part of your week. As a reminder, Tippets is where I share what's on my mind, and a curated assortment of tidbits and snippets (aka. tippets!) from around the web (usually centered around technology, startups, and psychology!)
No preamble today, the result of an exceptionally busy week and weekend, and a lingering case of writer’s block! So let’s move right along...
Tippets from Around the Web:
China’s Economic Activity Collapses Under Xi’s Covid Zero Policy
China reported slowing economic growth for April, as the consequences of the government’s no-tolerance COVID policy start to reveal themselves.
Industrial output unexpectedly fell 2.9% in April from a year ago, while retail sales contracted 11.1% in the period, weaker than a projected 6.6% drop. The unemployment rate climbed to 6.1% and the youth jobless rate hit a record. Investors responded by selling everything from Chinese shares to US index futures and oil.
These numbers are at the lowest levels since the pandemic began, and aren’t likely to get better any time soon. The Chinese government continues to pump money into the economy, with over $5 trillion so far and more to come, as banks just cut their 5-year loan interest rate by 15bps in an effort to lower the cost of mortgages. According to JPMorgan, Chinese tech stocks are buys again after being considered uninvestable, but the next few months will be a major test of the Government’s increasingly strict policies.
China’s Internet Censors Try a New Trick: Revealing Users’ Locations
Speaking of strict policies, the Chinese splinternet continues to become more authoritarian. Social media posts in the region now display the poster’s location (‘location tags’).
Authorities say the location tags, which are displayed automatically, will help unearth overseas disinformation campaigns intended to destabilize China. In practice, they have offered new fuel for pitched online battles that increasingly link Chinese citizens’ locations with their national loyalty.
Originally used on posts regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, automatically showing location tags has now expanded to most social media content. The additional tool in the Censor’s toolkit “marks a new step in a decade-long push by Chinese officials to end anonymity online and exert a more perfect control over China’s digital town squares.”
Unsurprisingly, this policy doesn’t apply to everyone. Accounts controlled by celebrities, politicians, and some CEOs are exempt. Talk about a different kind of ‘verified status’.
India to press ahead with strict cybersecurity rules despite industry concerns
Like China, recent regulatory measures in India have caused immense consternation among the tech community.
India will not change upcoming cybersecurity rules that force social media, technology companies and cloud service providers to report data breaches swiftly, despite growing industry concerns, the government said on Wednesday.
The Indian Computer Emergency Response Team issued a directive in April asking tech companies to report data breaches within six hours of “noticing such incidents” and to maintain IT and communications logs for six months.
Given the increase in cybersecurity attacks globally, forcing companies to report on the issue makes sense. However, the six-hour window for notification places an undue burden on the companies that, particularly for smaller, earlier-stage startups, may prove too costly to bear. Similar breaches that take place in Europe need to be reported within 72 hours, a more manageable timeline.
Baby Formula Shortage Has an Aggravating Factor: Few Producers
Four companies control 90% of the formula production in the US. When one of them, Abbott Laboratories (who happens to control almost half the market) shuts down a major plant due to two babies getting sick and two babies dying from bacterial infection, that’s a big problem. How did we get here?
But the factors that long ago led to the creation of an industry controlled by a handful of manufacturers are primarily rooted in a tangled web of trade rules and regulations that have protected the biggest producers and made it challenging for others to enter the market.
Grunt, hoo, pant, scream: Chimps use complex vocal communication
Language is one of the great tools that separates man from other animals. Our ability to tell stories and convey information via language has shaped the world as we know it. Scientists have recently discovered language may not be unique to humans.
Scientists exploring the evolutionary origin of language have detected a vocal communication system among wild chimpanzees more complex and structured than previously known, with a dozen call types combined into hundreds of different sequences.
Now, according to the researchers technically it is not a language, but it is among “the most complex forms of communication described in a non-human animal.”
The call types included a grunt, a panted grunt, a hoo sound, a pant hoot, a bark sound, a panted bark, a pant, a scream, a panted scream, a whimper, a panted roar and the non-vocal lip smack and raspberry sounds.
Sounds eerily similar to how men communicate with one another…
Quote I’m thinking about: “The longer you can extend your time horizon the less competitive the game becomes, because most of the world is engaged over a very short time frame.” — William Browne
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