Giant Leap’s Small Steps: The power of maps, games, and sci-fi in adapting to a changing world

- June 23, 2022 3 MIN READ
Jane McGonigal
Welcome to Giant Leap’s Small Steps, a newsletter offering global insights and news on the impact startups landscape.

We share an edited version with Startup Daily readers every fortnight.

Giant Leap is Australia’s first impact venture fund, and they use this newsletter to surface the ideas and businesses that intrigue and inspire them and broaden their own thinking on impact business.

Here’s what they have to say this week:

Knowledge is progress.

People do not act on what they do not know. For climate action, addressing the knowledge gap is the driving mission behind Probable Futures (deep dive podcast here). They produce interactive maps from widely accepted climate models that are understandable and relevant for anyone.

For example, they report that if the atmosphere  warms 3-degrees (i.e. we take no climate action), chances of annual extreme drought around Melbourne increases from less than 10% to more than 90%. That’s some heat under the feet to spur action.

Pray, or play? Game designer, Jane McGonigal argues that games are part of the answer, making the case that they create “Super-Empowered Hopeful Individuals” mastering skills of urgency, optimism, creativity, and collaboration.

Harnessing this, Jane has created social network simulations for people to play out their responses to things like climate events and future pandemics, producing 100s of insights and ideas for how best to address our most pressing problems. In her words, games can be “a solution to find solutions”.

Fiction creates reality. Finally, we’re fascinated by the role of imagination in shaping the future. Chinese author Chen Qiufan, who recently wrote a science fiction novel set in a future where China’s Net Zero pledge is achieved, argues that the world-building element of sci-fi allows for deeper more meaningful story-telling to prepare people for a different future.

For the road

Anyone Can, Australia’s first program for Bla(c)k Women and/or Women of Colour entrepreneurship, is holding their launch event in Sydney today! 4:30pm at Fishburners, grab your ticket here. Or apply online for the program here by 10th July.

Institutions entering the impact VC chat. The University of Melbourne has launched two new investment funds totalling $115 million, backed by Breakthrough Victoria, to transform research into a commercial business. Meanwhile, the NSW government launched a new $10 million VC fund for women founders in the name of the late fashion entrepreneur Carla Zampatti.

How close are we to prescribed psychedelics really? This Psychedelics Drug Development Tracker showcases progress on different applications, with the most advanced use case being MDMA used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

A history on hypnosis. This BBC article delves into the technique’s roots as a magic act, and into its bright future as a treatment for PTSD, IBS and other conditions.

‘Take a walk or two and call me in the morning’. Doctors are increasingly deviating from the usual practice of recommending drugs for chronic conditions and are instead turning to recommending physical or social activities as a form of treatment.

The math behind miracles. A “once in a lifetime” event may not be that rare. Consider: If an event has a one-in-a-million chance of occurring every day, it should happen to 8,000 people a day, or 2.9 million times a year.

Random may not be so random. A new study delved into by The Pudding found that your ability to generate randomness actually diminishes over the age of 60. That said, using their own interactives, they’ve failed to replicate the original findings.

Superworms! Meet the insects that are happy surviving solely on polystyrene — and our best hope for cost-effectively recycling it.

What inflation shock looks like (aka: why now is a good time to buy orange juice).