The Olympics are a test of China’s vision for the future of everything
Good morning! The Winter Games are an opportunity for China to show its vision for the future. And, perhaps more importantly, see how it works with the rest of the world. This is Nick Statt, and all I want from this year’s Olympics is another halfpipe showdown between Shaun White and Ayumu Hirano.
All eyes on Beijing
Today marks both the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics and the second time China has hosted the event, with Beijing becoming one of only 10 cities to host more than one edition of the Olympics.
More than perhaps any other country, China views the Games as its showcase not only for its athletes and the country’s culture, but also for its technological sophistication and investment in the future. But the country’s efforts to maintain control over online and offline behavior have shed light on China’s Olympic preparations.
A lot has changed since Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. China’s status in the world has risen dramatically, reflecting its vast economic and geopolitical power and its colder relations with the United States and the Western world as a whole.
- Among the most pronounced changes is China’s commitment to technology and its intense desire to be at the forefront of innovation.
- Over the past 15 years, we have seen some of the world’s largest and most powerful tech companies emerge from China, from Alibaba to Tencent.
- As my colleague Zeyi Yang noted earlier this week, China is using the games to drive this point home. It deployed cocktail-pouring robots in the Olympic Village, installed futuristic remote-controlled beds for visitors and set up its new digital currency system, eCNY, for its first international test.
But there is deep mistrust regarding China’s technology and track record. The country’s state surveillance apparatus and its tight control of internet activity and protests of dissent have been a focus of international concern with the 2022 games, in addition to rising tensions with the CCP in about its growing list of geopolitical and humanitarian crises.
- China’s official (and mandatory) health and safety mobile app for Olympic athletes has been embroiled in security and privacy concerns, after a report by the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab highlighted evidence of encryption vulnerabilities in the software. The app also contains censored keywords.
- US government officials are officially boycott the games on China’s human rights record, while the US team advises its athletes to use burner phones in the country to avoid possible unwanted surveillance.
- China has set rules for visiting athletes, saying they are subject to Chinese speech laws. This lead to national team warningsincluding from the United States and Canada, about potential legal issues for anyone who decides to use the 2022 Winter Games as a stage to express political or social opinions that the CCP might find unsavory.
And China’s COVID protocols are dancing with dystopia. The Olympic Village will deploy a so-called closed-loop system that Chinese officials will use to maintain an ultra-strict health and safety regime and ensure athletes follow local laws and regulations.
- The aforementioned mobile app will be used to govern athletes’ ability to move around the village, using evidence of negative PCR test results in the same way as the controversial green QR code system China controlled the movements of its citizens and dictated quarantine orders.
- China’s recently deployed 5G network will be the only way to access the internet inside the Olympic Village, with Chinese officials saying athletes will be able to bypass standard restrictions to access censored content, such as US media apps social, using special SIM cards.
- But foreign officials fear that even this activity is being monitored and subjecting athletes and other team members to possible legal trouble. “It must be assumed that all data and communications in China can be monitored, compromised or blocked,” the US Olympic Organizing Committee said. wrote in a technical advisory document last month.
The 2022 Winter Olympics have become more than just a test of China’s ability to stage a massive event with nightmarish logistics and health complications, in the midst of a pandemic, no less. They also show how China’s specific vision for the future – of sports, technology, communication and everything else – merges with the rest of the world.
—Nick Statt (E-mail | Twitter)
On the calendar
The changing role of the CIO
Join Tom Krazit at 10 a.m. on February 8 as he and a panel of experts explore the next evolution of CIO within modern enterprises. RSVP here.
A MESSAGE FROM HONEYWELL
Honeywell Chief Commercial Officer Jeff Kimbell sits down with Futurum’s Daniel Newman to talk about emerging global trends in innovation, sustainability, technology and markets. Don’t miss information on Honeywell’s latest strategy for 2022!
People are talking
Daniel Ek needs Joe Rogan because podcasts set Spotify apart, research analyst Mark Mulligan said:
- “Spotify has to bow to podcasters more than artists.”
Meanwhile, Ek told CNBC he thinks he’s handled the Rogan controversy. The right way:
- “When you look at what the scientific community asked us to do, it was really around three things, and all of those three things we delivered over the weekend.”
Rebekah Rombom of the Flatiron School said that companies offering vocational training should set their expectations from the start:
- “It’s quite uncomfortable to learn an entirely new skill set that you don’t have, and it requires openness and vulnerability and a lot of hard work.”
FAA’s Steve Dickson thinks 5G and aviation can collaborate for security reasons:
- “Working together, 5G and aviation can – and will – safely co-exist.”
Amazon has also increased its Prime membership price of $20. The company blamed supply chain shortages, rising wages and other issues for the increase.
Coinbase is work with TurboTax on direct deposits. The service will send state and federal tax refunds to Coinbase users, who can turn those dollars into crypto.
Marie Burgess and Mayowa Oyebadejo joined Paradigm as Vice President of Product Management and Vice President of Marketing, respectively. Burgess comes from Aderant and Oyebadejo from the Boston Consulting Group.
David Reed joined Advanced Energy Board of Directors. Reed was most recently Executive Vice President of Global Operations at NXP Semiconductors NV
In other news
Meta employees should turn their attention to the video, said Mark Zuckerberg at a company meeting yesterday. The company is also considering longer weekends to retain workers, but Zuckerberg said it doesn’t need a four-day work week.
There are another Tesla recall, this time affecting vehicles that do not trigger an audible alert when the driver has not fastened his seat belt. The company is recalling more than 817,000 vehicles.
Andreessen Horowitz apparently love Bored Ape Yacht Club. The company is in talks to conduct a huge funding round for the NFT project, but nothing is certain yet, sources told Axios.
Need more users? Say it “metaverse.” More than 500 mobile apps have added the word to their titles and descriptions to attract more people, and nearly 90 have done so in the past few months.
Businesses can now use a free version of Google Workspace. It’s called Workplace Essentials Starter and includes the same amount of storage as the client version along with tools like Drive and Docs.
The EPA wants the Postal Service to electrify its fleet. The USPS plans to electrify just 10% of its vehicles, but Biden officials want the service to reconsider.
The White House formed the Cyber Security Review Board, a council of private sector experts and senior government officials who will examine major cybersecurity failures like the Log4j bug. It will issue reports on security issues and produce recommendations.
DoorDash + Shake Shack =
Nothing is more romantic than a burger delivered to your door. Or in this case, a Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: As part of a promotion for the new menu item, DoorDash and Shake Shack have teamed up to create a time limited dating site.
Instead of swiping left or right based on appearance alone, users will indicate how spicy they want their sandwich to be. When they find a match, they will receive a promotional code for the new sandwich. But it’s a win-win: either you find the love of your life, or you have a sandwich, or both!