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Olympic 2012 Legacy?

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http://www.flickr.com/photos/terrydmatthews/8596118604/in/photostream

Its the end of March and the wind is blowing the snow in sideways.  Not ideal conditions for playing rugby I would imagine (having never played), and certainly not the most ideal for watching and trying to take pics.

But, the Penallta Minerbirds took to the field and beat the Blackwood Bears in the WRU Ladies Cup Quarter final in front of a crowd of upwards of 50.

And this is different to any number of teams playing any number of outside sports all over the country last weekend?

No, perhaps it not, but there is a side story, which I shall come back to.

For now, cast your mind back to the balmy summers days of 2012, where the London Olympics where the center of the Worlds media attention, and especially to any number of outstanding female athletes who medal-ed for Great Britain.

I remember most the emotional celebrations of Gemma Gibbons in the Judo - you may prefer to think of Jessica Ennis, but either way, those icons of their sports promised a lasting legacy for us all. Men and in these specific cases, women.

But this March is a long way from last summer, and the legacy is fading like the sincerity of the words.

Now the focus is back on the professional and glossy poster boys of the elite TV competitions, the merry go around of the transfer cycle, and who will be the next foreign millionaire investor.

Here in Wales, the mens rugby team derailed the English grand slam emphatically and much was said about the importance of keeping the key players here in Wales and subsidizing, where required the wages.

A week later the specialist sevens side made the final of the Hong Kong Sevens, their first time in the final.

And the women’s team made the World cup final for the first time.

All credit to the national sport of the rugby mad country.  Except there is a bitter aftertaste.  Week in and week out, we were treated to the highlights of the women’s six nations, from at one point, Twickers itself.
But no Welsh women’s highlights, why?  Because the Welsh women’s team are pushed out to the sticks where the is limited TV coverage capability. Disappointing is not the word.

Then, the WRU pulled all funding for the women’s six nations, and those players will now have to completely fund their own trips to the now reduced games they will play - hence the sign, #backthegirls.

Hardly ideal preparation for a WC is it? Playing just two games in a second tier competition.

So, sob sob, time and money is hard at the moment, cuts have to be made, decisions, however unpopular have to be made, and people cant be pleased all the time.  All true.

But consider this, Jessica Ennis, Jade Jones, Gemma Gibbons et al, all started out in local halls, under amateur coaches, in small grass routes competitions.

I am an amateur coach.

One who has coached men and women (i play and coach Korfball, one of the most niche of minority sports in the UK) from scratch to all levels upwards. And as a coach, i was motivated and brought in by the big words of the big names post 2012. We, the little people would be acknowledged and assisted to bring through the next generation of icons. I for one read up on David Brailsford and his methods in case i could find a tip (i found many). 

But slowly the dream is unraveling, the UKOC have been brutal in their finding cuts (see basketball and volleyball for starters), there has been no announcement of greater PE on the school curriculum and there has certainly been no success stories since (save the ever reliable Mr Brailslford and his cyclists..).

The government bemoans the climbing obesity rate and falling numbers of people participating in sport (especially younger women) and it wonders why.

We need role models (which we got) then we needed the pathway, which was pulled from under our feet.

We need more golden stars like Rebecca Adlington going back to the roots and taking the spotlight and TV cameras with them.

We should by no means at all plunge all our money into grass roots sport, and certainly not into untested waters, or to untested people, but there needs to be encouragement, there needs to be the golden brick road.

Sadly, for many smaller sports, and worse still for women’s sport, that road gets longer and more winding.

This was not the legacy i was expecting.

brain privacy: Extending Legal Rights to Social Robots

I. INTRODUCTION

At first glance, it seems hard to justify differentiating between the legal treatment of a social robot,1 such as a Pleo dinosaur toy,2 and a household appliance, such as a toaster. Both are man-made objects that can be purchased on Amazon and used as we please. Yet there is a…

dogshaming:

If a stranger tries to pick me up I will pee or poop down the front of their shirt.  I have no shame!

dogshaming:

If a stranger tries to pick me up I will pee or poop down the front of their shirt.  I have no shame!

Cosmetic Prosthetics

"Each new hot generation has a statement they wanna call their own. Tattoos? Piercings? That’s for Mum and Dad’s. What you wanna do is spend your allowance on Devil Horn Implants, Elephant Man Heads, Designer Tails, third leg, fourth leg - everyone a hermaphrodite!"

As Seen on TV / Pitchshifter ft Jello Biafra.

Leopard Man

Saw an interview on BBC News yesterday morning with a eminent plastic surgeon, who, after the very clearly bad incident with the PIP breast implants was calling for far tighter regulation on the cosmetic surgery industry in the UK.

His reasons where, sound, scientific, and clearly well meant.

But, as the Leopard Man above proves, and Mr Biafra sings, there is always a underground fashion, kink, or movement that will push something that everyone else considers, well, odd frankly.

Punk fashion statements will always happen, there will always be a new first, someone who will take it one step more. And these things, like everything else, will always be available if you know where to look and have the money to pay.

Clearly, what our surgeon was saying was that he wants plastic surgeons to be registered and inspected like tattoo parlours are, and that’s no bad thing.  Trust me on this one.

So, in a few years time where there is a nice cosy register for all kinds of implants and augmentations, where does the punk underground go next?

Mr Biafra is right, the next generation will always step up to the mark and take it further, but where?

Well, perhaps lets turn to the inspirational Aimee Mullins who has, according to her talk, 12 pairs of prosthetic legs, including solid wood ones designed specifically by Alexander McQueen.  Cool. You bet.  Sexy. Hell yeah.

But, lets step further into the debate.  There have recently been cases of elected amputations. People, who, via injury, or birth, have limbs, that work, but not as well as they could do, and hence, have decided to swap those not so good organic ones for some much better bionic ones.  Cool, yes.  And medically justifiable. So that’s good yeah?

Well, perhaps.  You want your penis pierced, or a tattoo on your eye lid, fine, go ahead, just open up your wallet. No questions asked.

How long before the designer prosthetic limbs that like those worn by Aimee Mullins are being brought, just because, no questions asked.

Most prosthetics are born out of necessity, H+ advocates their use for the enhancement of the human race.  Surely, at some point, someone will be coming from the other side and using them, purely for the sake of art.

And lets be honest, Devil Horn implants would be cool. Yeah?

jameswelch:

Very good graph comparing Vodafone to Jimmy Carr. (via robmanuel)

jameswelch:

Very good graph comparing Vodafone to Jimmy Carr. (via robmanuel)

Sleepwalking into the nightmare.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_D5wc8PG2zBE/TUWA0TLJiRI/AAAAAAAAAOY/tGsGCl05Xn8/s1600/WALL_E_fat_chair.jpg

"The technological singularity is the hypothetical future emergence of greater-than-human intelligence through technological means" [Wiki]

This futuristic event horizon is a commonly debated topic with as many routes to it as futures past it.

Many, like the Terminator films for example, paint the post singularity world as a nightmarish future where computers no longer need their human originators, others see a clinical convergence of technology must like Wall.E’s future generations [above], merged holistically with the technology around them.

Whilst on first glance the former is, as portrayed, a dreaded end, to me, the later is just as scary. Why, because if we embrace this line of development, and take continually, the path of least resistance, when will the time come where we no longer have the desire to care that we are no longer human as we would recognize us today?

Sherry Turkle, in her book, Alone Together, analyses the current zeitgeist for social media and the way we interact with each other.

For example, why facebook / tweet / IM your housemate when they are in the next room? Why is sending a stream of texts back and forth preferable to actually speaking to each other?

We bemoan the appearance of DIY checkouts in Tesco, hate automated phone queues, yet when the initial irk has been smoothed away with time, we wonder how we ever got on without them.

Cars have had cruise control for years, and now, the serious possibility of driver-less cars is on the horizon.  We go the the gym and run, cycle and row without moving a meter, instead of going around the park, mountain or lake.

I conclude its because we are inherently lazy, we want technology to do what we want it to to, we want to control it.  The very earliest visions of robots were of automated housemaids, and now auto-hoovers are available, whats next?

But this is all very today, and surely isn’t going to bring about Armageddon?

Well, take a more extreme example. There are, as proven by people like Claire Lomas who are using increasingly available biotechnology to amazing ends, and would anyone in their right mind describe Oscar Pistorious as lazy?  Certainly not me.

And what of the next step?  A paraplegic climbing Everest?  Lazy?  No.

But then? When the technology is just passe, and its available on Amazon under the biotech section?

Technology is first utilized by the visionary few, then, eventually, by everyone. In the 1980’s, the mobile phone was considered a status symbol, a yuppie identifier, now every teenager has two but wants a tablet.

There is a massive current drive to improve the quality of life for our aging populations by the suitable application of biotech, and the life expectancy in first world countries continues to rise accordingly, as does the age of retirement.

We currently “need” this technology, but take it two steps further, will we need it then, when the trailblazing tech of the future is on everyone’s lips (or fingers).

Will it also have become passe?

When the average human becomes so used to handheld, embedded, or sub-conscious technology that we become no longer human as we see it now, will we care, or will we just blink an eye and comment on a virtual  interconnected neural message board.

Will we care or even notice that we have voluntarily evolved into the singularities first merged human-tech species?  And more importantly, will we have the ability to turn back the tide?

?

prostheticknowledge:

Blade Runner Aquarelle Edition, Part 1 (Teaser) 

A remix of the film Blade Runner, created with frames handmade with watercolour pencils:

This animation is made of 3285 aquarelle paintings and form the very beginning of my paraphrase on the motion picture Blade Runner (1982) by Ridley Scott.
The sound is borrowed from the original movie.

The video, embedded below, is only a few parts of the film, all very recognizable:

Thanks to windsdarkpoem for the heads up!

futurist-foresight:

Big Brother is watching…
bylinebeat:

Drones at home raise fear of surveillance societyThousands of drones patrolling U.S. skies?Predictions that multitudes of unmanned aircraft could be flying here within a decade are raising the specter of a “surveillance society” in which no home or backyard would be off limits to prying eyes overhead. Law enforcement, oil companies, farmers, real estate agents and many others have seen the technology that was pioneered on battlefields, and they are eager to put it to use.It’s not just talk: The government is in the early stages of devising rules for the unmanned aircraft.So far, civilian use of drones is fairly limited. The Federal Aviation Administration had issued fewer than 300 permits for drones by the end of last year.Public worries about drones began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that they’re going mainstream.Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana’s coastal bayou country, says constituents have stopped him while shopping at Walmart to talk about their concerns.“There is a distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government,” Landry said. “It’s raising an alarm with the American public.”Photo Credit: (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)

futurist-foresight:

Big Brother is watching…

bylinebeat:

Drones at home raise fear of surveillance society

Thousands of drones patrolling U.S. skies?

Predictions that multitudes of unmanned aircraft could be flying here within a decade are raising the specter of a “surveillance society” in which no home or backyard would be off limits to prying eyes overhead. Law enforcement, oil companies, farmers, real estate agents and many others have seen the technology that was pioneered on battlefields, and they are eager to put it to use.

It’s not just talk: The government is in the early stages of devising rules for the unmanned aircraft.

So far, civilian use of drones is fairly limited. The Federal Aviation Administration had issued fewer than 300 permits for drones by the end of last year.

Public worries about drones began mostly on the political margins, but there are signs that they’re going mainstream.

Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana’s coastal bayou country, says constituents have stopped him while shopping at Walmart to talk about their concerns.

“There is a distrust amongst the people who have come and discussed this issue with me about our government,” Landry said. “It’s raising an alarm with the American public.”

Photo Credit: (warnewsupdates.blogspot.com)

Windows and Souls

[Spoilers ahead!]

"Tommy, The gallery wasn’t to look into your soul, it was to see if you had a soul at all"

In this decent adaptation of a very good book, this is the haunting line that kills the hope of one of our main protagonists.

Turing postulated that “If it appears to be intelligent, we should assume that it is”,  and this is exactly what they do at Hailsham School, they treat the donors as if they were normal flesh and blood, except they are not.  They are carefully created clones for the future harvesting of their organs [which is the sole purpose of their short life’s].

It is also made clear in the book / film that Hailsham is/was the last of its kind, with Madam telling the grown up children that its now mostly done in a battery farm style.

So, whilst Turing asks us to assume they are intelligent, he doesn’t speculate in anyway how we should actually treat them.

So, Clone, or AI, the question of “rights” eventually comes up.

So, in our example, the children are no better than hens in the eyes of society, breed for purpose and little else, but Hailsham takes a different view.  And this is how equal rights start, someone stands up, someone demands to be treated equally. They are often martyred for their actions and become a focus point for future believers.

Who / what will be the first artificially created intelligence to stand up and say, “I am equal?”

Will the human creators ability to always press the “off” switch negate the need, creating perfect sub servant creations, or will there need to be a “judgement day” when AI takes literally on a life of its own?

Or, as in the book, is the simple nature and nurture of their upbringing enough to create a “doesn’t know any different” mindset.

And, should there become a day when the human race can indeed create from scratch, a clone or AI in his own image, what of the soul? Will, as Madam asks, there even need to be the debate.

Could the Church for example, embrace such a “soul”?

Asimov set out rules for AI behavior, can they be transposed equally and without amendment to clones?

But what then?

As someone who has worked in HR for sometime, i understand the anti discrimination laws in the UK pretty well, and further more, from my work with a charity working in the LGBT sector, have read the Jogyakarta Principles and see their clear and simple beneficial applications to the field of human rights.

But isn’t that the question, when will AI / Clones become “Human” enough to qualify for human rights, or will we need to create a separate set, and indeed, how should we distinguish and qualify eligibility criteria.

No matter how much we look for the soul in others, often, we should be examining our own.

?

May 2

Space Law: Is Asteroid Mining Legal? (Talking Monkeys In Space)

futurist-foresight:

If private enterprise is also bound by the Outer Space Treaty, then space is nothing but a large nature park, and there is no real incentive to explore space.

talkingmonkeynews:

Can a private company claim ownership of an asteroid based on sending a probe out to it? Can it at least get exclusive mining rights? Would it own the gold, platinum or other materials mined from the asteroid?

Last week, a new private company, Planetary Resources announced an ambitious plan to prospect for and eventually mine near-Earth asteroids. Backed in part by Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, this venture has stirred the pot once again on the question of outer space property rights.

Understanding the legality of asteroid mining starts with the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. Some might argue the treaty bans all space property rights, citing Article II:

Outer space, including the moon and other celestial bodies, is not subject to national appropriation by claim of sovereignty, by means of use or occupation, or by any other means.

Others have argued that because Article II only applies to nations, individuals are free to claim chunks of the solar system. But as we’ve noted before, the treaty also requires nations to ensure their citizens comply with the other provisions of the Outer Space Treaty — including a prohibition against sovereign claims of property rights. So neither nations nor individuals can appropriate territory in space. But what about asteroid mining?

READ FULL ARTICLE AT WIRED.COM

(Source: higherthinkingprimate)