Designing Sport's BioDigital Future #DSI17

Designing Sport's BioDigital Future #DSI17

Today, I am speaking at the Digital Sport Innovation event at Hotel Football. My talk focused on a proposition to create an Augmented Reality Gym, which brings together a range of interests I have in eSport, mHealth, Cities, Events and social media. Here's a glimpse into what that might look like.

Biodesign in the Antropocene

Biodesign in the Antropocene

Last week, I gave a talk for the MA Material Futures at Central St Martins, London. I gave a talk for them a few years ago and it was a real pleasure to return. Here's my manuscript from the talk.

RIP Gustav Metzger

RIP Gustav Metzger

 

I have always loved the way that photography opens up the world to me and the passing of pioneering artist Gustav Metzger has brought me closer to his work. I saw him in 2009 as part of an audience with Marina Abramovich and, since his death, I have enjoyed reading all of the articles about his work, which include the image I took back then, which was added to his Wikipedia Age. Here is a selection of them:

Art News

"Gustav Metzger, the German-born British artist whose work exposes modern society’s will to destroy people and things, has died, according to Andrew Wilson, a Tate curator, who announced the news on Twitter. He was 90."
“Self-destructive painting, sculpture, and construction is a total unity of idea, site, form, colour, method, and timing of the disintegrative process,”

Art Information Network 

"When I saw the Nazis march, I saw machine-like people and the power of the Nazi state. Auto-destructive art is to do with rejecting power.”

Jewish Press

“artists have a special part to play in opposing extinction, if only on a theoretical, intellectual basis."

 

Smart Cities and Sport

Smart Cities and Sport

Last week, the World Union of Olympic Cities new platform "Smart Cities and Sport" interviewed me for a piece about smart cities and sport. Here are a few of my quotes:

“With esports, these gamers are engaged in a global community. Cities can play an important role by providing them with a space to be competitive and creative within a community. In a certain way, it is an opportunity for the older generations to do something meaningful for the younger generations – a way to rebuild communities.”
“The definition of esports is still evolving, and this makes it a much bigger opportunity for a city. The idea is to apply digital technology to the practice of a physical activity. As of now, certain interfaces allow practitioners to advance into a digital game by doing skateboarding tricks, or play basketball on a specific court in a city. Others allow you to go for a run and, at the same time, to be part of a story in a virtual world. (…) I believe this is the future for esports: to bring it even closer to the practice of a sport activity.”

#SciComm and Creativity

#SciComm and Creativity

This week, the Times Higher Education published a piece about our new MSc in Science Communication & Future Media, an online, part time course, designed for professionals who want to increase their skills and creative capacities. The article is broadly about the need to do more than just communicate facts to the public, a position that has been reinforced in the last week, as authors write about the consequences of the Anti-Science Trump administration. Here's the full article and here's a link to our exciting new course!

Sport 2.0 and the BBC Academy

Sport 2.0 and the BBC Academy

Last week, I took part in a broadcast examining how digital technology has changed sports, with the BBC's Academy, an industry facing programme, designed for professionals. You can listen to it here

Sarajevo 1984, 33 years later

Today marks the 33 years since the Opening Ceremony of the Sarajevo 1984 Olympic Winter Games and so I dedicated my afternoon to capturing some of its history. The most remarkable location is the Bob Sled track, which was built in concrete and survives to this day. It remains now as a living monument to the Games, although for the locals, it feels also like a forgotten place.

Draped in overgrown foliage and graffiti, I learned that it has become a popular place to come walking and, while the snow was too deep to walk its length today, I had the chance to see a few of its turns.

It's hard to know how to place this as an Olympic legacy. It has become a tourist attraction, that much is clear. Yet, it does not resonate with conventional legacy language. After all, it has become a line of desire, rather than a purposeful sports facility. However, I think it is all the richer for this, and there is something truly authentic about it, as a manifestation of cultural heritage, re-worked by the local community.

Clearly, the 1990s war broke continuity for the city, in terms of many things, but also that Olympic legacy. The cable car running from the city to the mountain venue was lost - but is being re-built I am told. Also, many Olympic buildings were destroyed. So, there is something also compelling about the robustness of this unusually permanent concrete bob sled run. So, I am comfortable with talking about this monument as a feature of Sarajevo's Olympic legacy. Like the most effective legacies, they have to arise from a process of re-negotiation, re-ownership, and be sites of active value creation for a community. This area enjoys each of these features and, for this reason, i'm sure it will continue to be of historical significance and worthy of protection. And if that wasn't enough, you can also mountain bike down the run, which has to be completely awesome!

My trip here has been all the richer for venturing out to see this amazing site and I hope you will agree that there is a beauty to this Olympic heritage, even if it was not the one intended when it was imagined.

Draped in overgrown foliage and graffiti, I learned that it has become a popular place to come walking and, while the snow was too deep to walk its length today, I had the chance to see a few of its turns.

It's hard to know how to place this as an Olympic legacy. It has become a tourist attraction, that much is clear. But it does not resonate with conventional legacy language. After all, it has become a line of desire rather than a purposeful sports facility. Yet, I think it is all the richer for this, and there is something truly authentic about it, as a manifestation of cultural heritage, re-worked by the local community. 

Clearly, the 1990s war broke continuity for the city, in terms of many things, but also that Olympic legacy. The cable car running from the city to the mountain venue was lost - but is being re-built I am told. Also, many Olympic buildings were destroyed. So, there is something also compelling about the robustness of this unusually permanent concrete bob sled run.  

My trip here has been all the richer for venturing out to see this amazing site and I hope you will agree that there is a beauty to this Olympic heritage, even if it was not the one intended when it was imagined.

How drones are changing the world

How drones are changing the world

How the drone went from the latest must have tech toy to a billion-dollar cultural phenomenon

Andy Miah, University of Salford

Of the many technologies to have captured our imaginations over the last five years, there have been few with such lofty aspirations as drones. These high-tech flying machines have opened up new cultural pastimes which bring together hobbyist enthusiasm and a simple human curiosity to take to the skies.

In 2015, one of the largest commercial drone developers, DJI, was valued to be worth over US$10billion, while major media companies like Facebook and Google have been quietly acquiring drone manufacturers to further their aspirations of reaching the remaining world’s offline population by using high altitude drones to beam down data through lasers, giving those more remote communities a means of getting online.

But what are the big five applications that explain the proliferation of drones over this period, or which signal important contributions to our society?

Delivery

The great thing about drones is that they are small, fast, agile, self-guiding, and can carry things. Ever since Amazon’s first patent award for a drone delivery system in April 2015, we have seen new designs emerge and new applications imagined, including the company’s latest aspiration to create a blimp style drone carrier which will be able to deploy fleets of drones directly from the sky. Meanwhile companies like Flirtey have received approval for commercial drone delivery flights, for items ranging from Pizza delivery to bottled water, emergency food and first aid kits.

Other delivery designs have included life-ring drones, blood-delivery drones, and defibrillator “ambulance” drones – the prototypes of which show great success and clarity of use.

Filmmaking

In 2015, the world’s first Drone Film festival took place in New York, shortly followed by a number of others around the world. In the same year, the Drones for Good prize launched in Dubai, creating an annual US$1m prize for inventors to come up with some of the best drone applications. Finalists ranged from drones designed to map biodiversity, to a search and rescue drone which was its inaugural international winner.

Award winning filmmaker Liam Young created the first film shot entirely by drones, called In the Robot Skies. Artists are even putting 360 cameras onto drones and turning them into virtual reality perspectives, as in the case of award-winning Marshmallow Laser Feast’s In the Eyes of the Animal, which uses drones, LIDAR scanning, and VR to give a completely new perspective on the world.

Drone Racing

The United Arab Emirates created the world’s first Grand Prix Drone Racing event, with British teen Luke Banister winning its inaugural event in 2016 with a first prize pot of US$250,000. Since then an entire community of drone races have been popping up around the world, with the first professional race taking place in the UK at the 02 Arena in 2017.

Conservation

Drones also have the extraordinary capacity to occupy parts of our natural world that no other object can. These machines have been seized upon by environmental scientists to help us understand the natural world in ways that have never been possible before. For instance, primate biologist Serge Wich has been monitoring apes from above using a range of drone systems, while Neil Entwistle, of Salford University’s School of Environment and Life Sciences, has been mapping out flooding patterns in the UK to more effectively help us figure out how to protect ourselves against catastrophic weather.

Drones can also be used to track environmental changes. Thierry Weber/flickr, CC BY

Journalism

Journalists have also been quick off the mark to use drones. The Knight News Foundation project is developing a Drone Journalism operations manual to help reporters fly ethically and safely. And in countries where there is tight media control there is particular value in having drones to access places which have decreed off limits. In Turkey, for example, an activist allegedly had his drone shot down by police when he was trying to capture footage of demonstrations in Istanbul.

Hype?

Among all these amazing applications, there is also a lot of hype about where drones will take us. A lot is still very much in flux. Rules keep changing, freedoms to fly are being curbed in various countries, such as Spain, and there remains a concern about safety and how best to govern accountability. What’s more, it’s crucial to keep an eye on the links between the military and the consumer sector, as the overlaps are emerging – economically and politically.

There is already a push back against a world where we are surrounded by drones, such as the project No Fly Zone which lets US citizens try to protect the air space around their homes from drone intrusion. We also have a massive design problem in trying to actually figure out what a highway in the sky might look like.

But one thing is clear, the investment capital is there to sustain these applications for a long time to come and there is no sign of the number of applications diminishing so there’s still a great deal of change to expect ahead.

The Conversation

Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication & Future Media, University of Salford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

NanoEthics

NanoEthics

This year, I am delighted to be joining the Editorial Board of NanoEthics, edited by Christopher Coenen. It has a fantastic back catalogue of really provocative articles on cutting edge issues in ethics and I look forward to reading submissions in the future! Here's an overview of what it does:

Nanoscale technologies are surrounded by both hype and fear. Optimists suggest they are desperately needed to solve problems of terrorism, global warming, clean water, land degradation and public health. Pessimists fear the loss of privacy and autonomy, "grey goo" and weapons of mass destruction, and unforeseen environmental and health risks. Concern over fair distribution of the costs and benefits of nanotechnology is also rising.
Introduced in 2007, NanoEthics: Ethics for Technologies that Converge at the Nanoscale provides a needed forum for informed discussion of ethical and social concerns related to nanotechnology, and a counterbalance to fragmented popular discussion.
While the central focus of the journal is on ethical issues, discussion extends to the physical, biological and social sciences and the law. NanoEthics provides a philosophically and scientifically rigorous examination of ethical and societal considerations and policy concerns raised by nanotechnology. 

#FutureProofing on @BBCRadio4

#FutureProofing on @BBCRadio4

Tonight I appear on BBC Radio 4's #FutureProofing series, talking about the future of Sport. You can check it out here

How artificial intelligence could provide some respite for the NHS

How artificial intelligence could provide some respite for the NHS

How artificial intelligence could provide some respite for the NHS

Emma Rich, University of Bath and Andy Miah, University of Salford

The NHS recently announced plans to trial an artificially intelligent mobile health app to a million people in London. The aim is to help diagnose and treat patients by engaging them in a real time text message conversation which will complement the NHS 111 phone based service (which was criticised by the Care Quality Commission watchdog). The app’s designers, Babylon Healthcare Ltd, use algorithms to make initial diagnoses which are then followed up with human consultations. It has already received a glowing CQC evaluation.

The app is likely to provoke a mixed response, with enthusiastic technophiles up against those concerned that more technology means a less human healthcare service. Yet, with the NHS being described as suffering from a humanitarian crisis, and with a growing healthcare burden and limited resources, some smart solutions are needed. It is hard to deny that problems of limited funding are enduring features of this unique public service. Perhaps AI has the answer.

In fact, providing effective healthcare is always a combination of systematised technological efficiency combined with patient centred human care. Polarised views on technology are often not helpful. It’s also necessary to recognise how this approach to healthcare is part of a wider technical revolution in which connected objects in the Internet of Things will change everything from healthcare to traffic maintenance.

The NHS app is really simple to use and has been likened to using the social messaging service WhatsApp – but with one crucial difference: you are chatting with a computer, not a person. Once the app is downloaded, you log your basic health information, and then start explaining your symptoms. The robotic “responder” will say things like: “I just need a few details from you before we get started,” and “nearly there” to keep the conversation going. After a more detailed exchange, it might come to a conclusion along these lines:

Ok so your symptoms don’t sound urgent, but I think they require further investigation. Make sure you arrange a consultation with a GP within the next two weeks. If left, symptoms like yours can become more serious, so book now while you remember and I’ll remind you closer to the time. If things change in the meantime and you become more unwell, speak to a doctor as soon as you can.

This digital diagnosis service intends to provide an additional communication tool between the NHS and patients. It it part of a broader ecosystem of digital health services which include online health tracking. Also, the app takes advantage of the fact that some people these days are likely to be more comfortable chatting by text than they are with talking on the phone.

This digital phenomenon is driven by the promise of a wider technological fix to social problems. Applications within healthcare could bring about big wins for society, where the functionality of the device is made all the more efficient by the aggregation of “big data” that it generates. Tech firm Babylon is joined by other big players seeking to do similar things, such as Google’s Deep Mind, which wants to mine NHS data to to enable earlier diagnoses for example, or to achieve more effective monitoring of treatments.

At the world’s largest tech expo in Las Vegas at the start of 2017, home AI systems have been one of the biggest hits. So perhaps the NHS has found an intelligent solution at just the right time. People may now be far more willing to have a “relationship” with an attentive machine than a call centre drone.

Digital doctor

Driving these developments is the assumption that, within a digital knowledge economy, these forms of communication can offer more neutral and accurate responses, circumventing human error. Yet, scholars within the emerging field of critical digital health studies suggest that algorithms must be understood as part of a complex network of interconnections between human and non-human actors. A recent study comparing physician and computer diagnostic accuracy revealed that doctors “vastly outperformed” algorithms

So we need to ask some key questions about the assimilation of AI into healthcare. How do people make sense of the list of possible diagnoses they receive from the machine? Will people follow the advice, or trust it? How will AI need to be tailored to accommodate human variation, by geography, capacity, or cultural identity. Another important aspect of this trial will be the consideration given to the backgrounds of the users. Given enduring concerns about inequalities of digital access and digital literacy, trials for future digital health tech need to be conducted amongst those populations with limited resources, experiences, and technological infrastructure.

Perhaps the biggest question we face in a world where ever more of our data is locked up in the mobile app environment, is over the proprietary and privacy of our data. How can we ensure that we have the freedom to move our health data around, over time, and ensure that it is safe and secure? We may need a new Bill of Health Data Rights to underpin and limit their exploitation of our data, and work on this must start now.

The Conversation

Emma Rich, Reader, Department for Health, University of Bath and Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication & Future Media, University of Salford

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Sport 2.0 at the World Aquatics Convention #FWAC2016

Sport 2.0 at the World Aquatics Convention #FWAC2016

This week, I've been in Canada for a couple of nights, speaking at the FINA World Aquatics Convention. It was an amazing event really and a lovely experience. My panel focused on the digital experience, and we had some fantastic experience among the speakers, which considered of Claude Ruibal (formerly YouTube, GoPro), Peter Diamond Executive Vice-President, Programming, NBC Olympics, and Will Bastin (GMS Manager, FINA) 

At the awards gala, Michael Phelps was given a lifetime legend award and it really feels like a special year for swimming. With Phelps making history as the most decorated Olympian of all time, and concluding his career in Rio, it was a really touching setting, quite low-key - compared to the Olympics - and, as he put it, a feeling of being among "family". I think a lot of emotions were quite high and it was especially nice to see him here, after having last seen him win gold in Rio, in a very different setting.

Here is Phelps at the event, followed by a shot I took during the Rio Games. Slide screenshots from my presentation follow, which was the first outing of my new book, Sport 2.0 for The MIT Press. A web resource will follow soon! 

The moment captured in this photograph that I took in Rio actually appeared in the Phelps video showreel of his career.

And at the ceremony...

Finally, my slides...

Making VR Matter

Making VR Matter

As part of our Creative Entrepreneurs event at Salford University, i took part in a panel on how virtual reality can be used to enrich a business. Among the panelists was the amazing Robin McNicholas of Marshmallow Laser Feast and Sarah Jones, a leading influener in VR.

I talked about our Virtual Chernobyl project, which brought people into a place that is uninhabitable, taking them through content that is captured as data by one of our leading researchers. This fusion of communication and research is crucial to us.

At the end, we had a go at doing the mannequin challenge too :)

What's next for digital sport

What's next for digital sport

For the BBC Digital Cities week at University of Salford, I gave a talk on VR, which looked at the cross over between what cities are doing with digital and how sports are evolving into these spaces. The BBC's Academy came along to produce an interview, captured by Charles Miller here.

Living with Robots #ESRCfestival

Living with Robots #ESRCfestival

As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, I produced an event that explores our future with robots in an experiment of public engagement, science communication, and social science. We invited families to come to the Museum of Science and Industry to discuss together what this future might be, while undertaking a Lego robot building workshop with Nick Hawken and creating Noisy Toys, Steve Summers - robot instruments. 

I really wanted to create an event that explored a novel social science methodology and we combined a number of techniques to give people an insight into the role of social science in developing our understanding and comprehension of the future. This is a really challenging proposition for areas where we have yet to work with a demographic of users, but is crucial to help us build a greater comprehension for the issues that might arise.

As a catalyst for the discussions, we had input from world leading experts on this field who asked the following questions of our participants:

We had fantastic support from Salford University student volunteers and the amazing contributions of Dr Marieke Navin, Salford Uni Science Communicator in Residence and Dr Gary Kerr, PhD researcher in Science Communication.

Here's a little overview