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Digital Health

Digital Health

Last week, I was in Bath for an ESRC seminar about Digital Health and the Older Generation, set up by Cassie Phoenix. Within my closing talk for the day, I was able to get into the many ways that healthcare is being transformed through digital systems, mobile culture, artificial intelligence, and ingestible sensors. The latest article I wrote on this was published in Health Sociology Review and is with my colleague Dr Emma Rich, with whom we presently have a Wellcome Trust grant to explore how young people use digital environments to make sense of health.

Humanity 2.0

Humanity 2.0

In April, I gave a talk for the World Anti-Doping Commentary project, a legal initiative based in Switzerland. Their team has been preparing the first ever legal commentary on the World Anti-Doping Code and cases that surround its work.

I was asked to give a talk about what is a critical ethical issue of our time and so used this opportunity to reflect on where I have been and what I have learned over the years. The text from my talk will be published as an official stenographer's write up, but here's are the slides from the talk. It tries to lay out the context in which anti-doping finds itself between a rock and a hard place. I remain convinced that it's on its way to becoming redundant as a mission, but there's a lot more that will need to change before we reach this point.

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.

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 :)

Re-Thinking Journalism

Re-Thinking Journalism

Today, I am in Switzerland, giving a talk about how to utilize social media to build a reputation as a researcher. My take on this is to think about how best to utilize the range of creative media around us, as academics, and to explore the overlap between journalism and academia in that pursuit.

This configuration allows us to develop a holistic approach to nurturing reputation, with community building, and awareness raising, while ensuring that we don't treat the media as a static entity.

We need to ensure that our use of media - social or otherwise - is not just about instrumental values, but about co-creating and innovating as researchers. 


eSport at Salford University #eSportsUoS16

eSport at Salford University #eSportsUoS16

Today at Media City, we have our first eSport conference, with some really amazing speakers, who are thought leaders and doers in the industry. It's such a privilege to have to have such excellent folk to our place to plan the future!


eSports and the Future of Sport

The University of Salford Centre for Sports Business, in collaboration with The Digital Cluster (part of CARe), and World Gaming Executives is hosting a one-day symposium on the 2nd November 2016 at the University of Salford at MediaCityUK on eSports and the Future of Sport.

This event will include talks by leading academics in the field, and those working in the management and provision of eSports. This will explore the rapidly developing business of eSports, and consider its relationship and synergies with the changing nature of more traditional sports.

The event is free and open to anyone interested eSports, the business of digital gaming, digital media, or the changing nature of professional sports.

Book Tickets Here

Hashtag: #eSportsUoS16



930-1030: Registration, and welcome coffee

1030-1045: Welcome (Chris Brady, Centre for Sports Business, University of Salford)

1045-1200: Session 1: The Future of Sport?

  • Garry Crawford (University of Salford)

  • Andy Miah (University of Salford)

  • Trevor Keane (Celtic eSports League)

1200-100: Keynote 1: The Development of eSports

  • Chester King (CEO International eGames Group)

100-200: Lunch /FIFA with Kieran 'Kez' Brown (Manchester City eSports)

200-300: Session 2: Regulating eSports

  • Christopher Paget (Sheridans, Media Law)

  • Dr Mark Johnson (York Digital Hub) & Dr Jamie Woodcock (LSE)

300-330 Coffee

330-430: Keynote 2: Panel on The Opportunities of eSports

  • Dominic Sacco (British eSports Association), Carleigh Morgan (King’s College London), Malph Minns (Strive Sponsorship), Josh Williams (NUEL)

5: Drinks Reception

Higher, Faster, Enhanced?

Higher, Faster, Enhanced?

After a full on week of doping controversies with the Fancy Bears website hacks, I gave a talk at Future Fest this weekend on the future of sport and the use of human enhancement.

There's a major problem about to explode with the Therapeutic Use Exemption and this could change  a lot about how we make sense of the distinction between therapy and enhancement. As always, sport is at the forefront of figuring out crucial bioethical problems that will confront our radical transhuman future.




A Drone's Eye View of the Future

A Drone's Eye View of the Future

TEDx talk for University of York, looks at the many ways in which drones are being developed and utliized for a range of social goods.


BlueDot Festival

BlueDot Festival

This weekend, I had the chance to speak at the BlueDot Festival, an amazing science, art, and music festival at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. My talk was part of a programme of events curated by Josh McNorton at FutureFest and I focused on the era of human enhancement and how it's playing out in the world of sport. 


Why we need a World Pro-Doping Agency

Why we need a World Pro-Doping Agency

Last night, I was at the British Library taking part in a panel on doping in sport. Doping seems to be in the news all of the time at the moment, with revelations about Russian involvement and is made worse by the allegations of corruption in sports federations. 

I have spoken in so many debates about doping and, inevitably, i tend to be the one who, now let me get this right, people love to hate. Yes, that's the way round I think. I argue for doping in sport. I argue that the present anti-doping system is out of sync with our emerging culture of human enhancement. I argue that we need to re-think everything.

I have been saying this for 15 years and nothing has changed. Officials still claim unbelievably low levels of doping in sport. Athletes claim it is much higher. Athletes keep getting abused, but still bear the brunt of the sanctions. 

I don't have a solution to the problem, but neither does anti-doping. In my system, the world of sport takes on more responsibility for steering athletes to safe forms of performance enhancement, invests into helping them make performance gains, ensures an appropriate relationship between athletes and their advisors - including physicians.

I am told that my system is too onerous on the sports world, that it is inconceivable to ensure a high quality of care in a developing country which lacks even the infrastructure to develop sport. I am told there are not enough resources and yet NBC paid $8b for the next 16 years of Olympic coverage. The lack of resource in anti-doping undermines its credibility and it cannot attend to its duty of care to athletes more widely without approaching this from a public health perspective. Yet, in the wake of the Beijing 2008 test results, the IOC wants federations to figure it out. I don't understand this at all, but suspect it will not go very far to solving the problem.

In my world, athletes are under medically supervised doping. they will still be at risk, but they will know more about those risks and be better equipped to diminish their impact on health. This alone is reason to make doping legal, but there is an even stronger claim to be made in relation to what we ask athletes to do, which is transcend human limits. They can't do this without technology. Doping is one means by which an athlete can do this, but there are others. 

Here's an article which I published 10 years ago, setting out the case for a different model and here's the final video

Academia 2.0

Academia 2.0

Yesterday, I went to Warwick University to give a talk about using social media for research and impact. It was an event organized by Luke Robert Mason, focused on young scholars mostly. The question that I am often asked at such meetings is how much time I spend doing social media. The answer is usually that it is hard to quantify, but that it's not just time spent communicating.

My time spent using social media is time spent doing the kinds of things that we need to do as academics, to stay ahead of the curve. A lot of it is about discovery - finding out about new projects, initiatives, headlines, research, networks - which feeds into wider processes of research that I undertake. Usin social media means I also use email much less than I used to. Instant messaging through WhatsApp or Facebook are now critical ways for me to contact students and colleagues.

However, the main reasons I use social media a lot have to do with the underlying principles of its ethos - it is user centred, so you can decide what you want to say, rather than rely on the media to interpret it for you, it is the place where people are discovering learning opportunities - and it allows us to grow our communities more effectively. 

All of these things are crucial to doing research and so using social media is a no brainer for me.

here are the slides



National Bird #sheffdocfest

National Bird #sheffdocfest

My second appearance at Sheffield Documentary Film Festival this year was part of a discussion about National Bird, a film dealing with the complexities of drone warfare. It takes the perspective of thee drone operators, who put themselves out on a limb by talking about their experience and concerns about such work. 

It was a complex and far reaching discussion in which I covered the relationship between military and civilian drone applications, the idea that losing the human from the field of combat may diminish some aspect of our capacity to take moral responsibility for destruction brought by drones. Other philosophers have made this case and the views of protagonist Lisa Ling, who was with us, made it all the more apparent.

e-sport can drive digital innovation

e-sport can drive digital innovation

This week, I spoke at Oxford University on the subject of e-sport, focusing on governance and a vision for its contribution to society. I feel strongly that e-sport can be a way of recovering intergenerational relationships - children who are lost to gaming - and that it can be a way of building careers and competitiveness in digital innovation. Here's the talk.


Sport 2.0 #sportfuture

Sport 2.0 #sportfuture

This week, I am in Lausanne for the Sport Future Rendezvous 2016 conference, organized by good friend Professor Jean-Loup Chappelet at the University of Lausanne. I took the chance to talk about the biodigital interface, the growth of e-sport, biotechnological change, ingestible sensors, and virtual realities. But the big controversy, as always, was my views around doping, which did hijack the futures debate a little. In any case, here's my presentation.


 Thanks to Michel Filliau for the photograph.

How corrupt is sport? #AntiCorruption

How corrupt is sport? #AntiCorruption

Last night, I took part in the Grayson Debate, an annual event of the British Association for Sport and Law. I was asked by Dan Saoul, for whom I have spoken before at the BASL conference. The other speakers were the world leading sports lawyer Michael Beloff QC and former elite cyclist David Miller. 

The event operated by Chatham House rules, as much of what was said was of an extremely sensitive nature, but here's the skeleton of my talk, which covers some of the main points. I focused on the processes that enable corruption and attempts to mitigate against them. 

I don't know how corrupt sport is, but we have to assume that corruption is a feature of any institutional system and constantly work towards improving checks and balances to diminish its occurrence and impact. 


My Position

“Sport’s still haven’t come to terms with what kinds of entities they are and this catastrophically restricts their ability to function as ethically conscientious entities (support from EU). Until every single member of a sports club gets to vote on the position of their global leaders in their sport, these organizations will not be in a position to act in accordance with the ethical standards they require, and will remain organizations highly vulnerable to corruption.”

Improving Football Governance through Supporter Involvement and Community Ownership

-       12,000 grassrootssurveyed, 73% feel completely ignored at national level, 39% at local club level


Vulnerabilities in Sport

  • Power $150b value ($700b betting market)
  • Reliance on good will / volunteerism
  • Life course of individuals in power – fragility of athletic career and national interests eg. Son of Saddam Hussain was IOC President.
  • Global community – collapse of common ethical framework.
  • Ambiguous bottom lines – enhancing performance / keeping athlete healthy
  • Corruption News (corruption sells news)
  • Stakeholder ambivalence eg. One athlete falls, just sponsor another)

Forms of corruption

  • Cheating (doping, max fixing)
  • Governance (contracts, nepotism, conflicted interests, training eg. referees)
  • Political (human trafficking, quiet diplomacy, domestic interests)


Transparency International recommendations:

  • o   Anti-corruption guidelines and appropriate responses
  • o   Ethical compliance
  • o   Independent non-executive directors
  • o   Due diligence and transparency on appointments/partners
  • o   Implement multilateral agreements
  • o   Whistleblower system
  • o   Stakeholder involvement
  • o   Bidding standards
  • o   Budget transparency

-       Big data – performance tracking to identify unusual behaviours

In 2013, the EU’s Expert Group on Good Governance produced their own version of Principles of good governance in sport, which included this definition:

The framework and culture within which a sports body sets policy, delivers its strategic objectives, engages with stakeholders, monitors performance, evaluates and manages risk and reports to its constituents on its activities and progress including the delivery of effective, sustainable and proportionate sports policy and regulation.”

Is the Corinthian spirit dead?

I don’t believe in ghosts, but a traffic light system may be appropriate to identify risk of corruption, a bit like investment risks. If you are AAA then you are in good shape.