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Zuma, Musk, and the Randzuma, Musk, and the Rand

Zuma, Musk, and the Randzuma, Musk, and the Rand

In our digital world, more and more important decisions are now made by algorithms. On Tuesday, the rand, South Africa’s currency, instantly surged more than one percent when a dubious website published a fake story that President Jacob Zuma had resigned, triggering an automated decision to buy.


At first, the story seemed credible, because Zuma is no longer leader of the African National Congress (ANC), his political party, and because some within the ANC (and the opposition) are working hard to force him from office.

Then the story got weirder. News wires quoted a US congressional aide who said that Zuma was “missing.” Algorithmic traders didn’t immediately realize that, in this case, the name Zuma referred not to South Africa’s president but to the code name for Elon Musk’s latest mission to launch a military satellite. (Musk is from South Africa, not that that clarifies much of anything.)

Is that satellite really missing? No one will say. Is Jacob Zuma missing? No, he’s still in power, at least for now, aggravating investors and many South Africans. Did the rand recover? Yes, within minutes. But these are the kinds of stories we better get used to. Fake news and algorithms will sometimes combine to generate market-moving confusion. Don’t be surprised when bad actors try to mimic the conditions that created this situation to upset financial markets — and, perhaps, politics.

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Listen now.

Though celebrations will surely be more subdued this year, many Germans will still gather (virtually) on October 3 to celebrate thirty years since reunification.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall — and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union — Germany reunited in a process whereby the much wealthier West absorbed the East, with the aim of expanding individual freedoms and economic equality to all Germans.

But thirty years later, this project has — to a large extent — been difficult to pull off. The economic and quality of life gap is shrinking, but lingering inequality continues to impact both German society and politics.

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

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But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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Watch: Tolu Olubunmi in conversation with Dr. Samira Asma from the World Health Organization on how they are advancing health data innovation in the age of COVID-19.

This content is brought to you by our 2020 UN General Assembly partner, Microsoft.

Watch UN Innovation Room conversations weekly on Thursdays at 9 am EDT: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream/

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