A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

Robot Olympics Planned for 2020 Powered by Japan’s ‘Robot Revolution’
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Japan likes robots. And while some Americans raised on a confusing sci-fi diet of Star Wars, Terminator, and iRobot are perhaps a little wary of advanced AI and robotics—Japan simply can’t wait for the “robot revolution.” In a recent tour of Japanese robotics firms, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe declared his intention to create a government task force to study and propose strategies for tripling the size of Japan’s robotics industry to $24 billion. And one more thing, Abe said, “In 2020, I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills.” While mere mortals compete in the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo—in a stadium somewhere nearby, the world’s most advanced robots may go head to head in events showcasing their considerable prowess (hopefully by then, right?). (via Robot Olympics Planned for 2020 Powered by Japan’s ‘Robot Revolution’ | Singularity Hub)

Robot Olympics Planned for 2020 Powered by Japan’s ‘Robot Revolution’
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Japan likes robots. And while some Americans raised on a confusing sci-fi diet of Star Wars, Terminator, and iRobot are perhaps a little wary of advanced AI and robotics—Japan simply can’t wait for the “robot revolution.” In a recent tour of Japanese robotics firms, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe declared his intention to create a government task force to study and propose strategies for tripling the size of Japan’s robotics industry to $24 billion. And one more thing, Abe said, “In 2020, I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills.” While mere mortals compete in the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo—in a stadium somewhere nearby, the world’s most advanced robots may go head to head in events showcasing their considerable prowess (hopefully by then, right?). (via Robot Olympics Planned for 2020 Powered by Japan’s ‘Robot Revolution’ | Singularity Hub)

Cybathalon 2016: A Competition for Augmented Humans #nexthuman
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The Olympic Games are a competition for the fittest and most talented able-bodied humans on Earth. The Paralympic Games are a competition for the fittest and most talented humans on Earth with physical and intellectual disabilities. To compete, paralympians take advantage of assistive systems, some of which are becoming increasingly cybernetic, combining traditional prosthetics with robotics. ETH Zurich and the Swiss National Competence Center of Research in Robotics have an idea of where we can take this. (via Cybathalon 2016: A Competition for Augmented Humans - IEEE Spectrum)

Some of the UK’s leading bioscience and sports researchers have teamed up to help improve training for elite athletes, thanks to special funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and UK Sport with additional money from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). As well as helping to improve our sporting performance, the research will also provide answers which will benefit our aging population. Three new projects have been awarded a total of nearly £1.4M to look specifically at athletes’ vision and movements at a physiological level, the answers to which could lead to improved training methods for elite athletes across all sports as well as providing vital information about how best to train or retrain people who have lost every day skills due to aging or disease. The three projects, announced today, will look at: Working with elite cricketers to understand cognitive and motor skills and to learn how they adapt over their lifespan Identifying the behavioral and biological mechanisms underpinning elite performance in aiming tasks through working with GB archery team Looking at whether elite athletes have superior visual perception and if so, how and why.

Could bioscience research bring more Olympic and Paralympic medals (9/17/2012)
Once again the world bears witness as thousands of Olympic athletes convene to be tested as they’ve never been tested before, and then if they pass the tests they get to compete in some sports. A lot of them won’t pass, of course, and will be sent home because of the growth hormone, radioactive spider venom or Y chromosomes found in their bloodstream. But we can rest assured that the remaining athletes are completely free of illegal substances, right? Because bad guys always get caught, cheaters never win, and all the kittens in the whole wide world go to bed each night with full tummies. The whole concept of doping is a weird one. Taking a young girl with athletic promise, severing her from any chance of a normal childhood, shipping her off to another country, training her day and night, then subjecting her to the sort of pressure that would crush a seafloor crab into mucus and shards — that’s normal. Topping off with a little more testosterone than your genome saw fit to give you — that’s abhorrent. However, I’m not going to suggest that we just let people dope all they want, mostly because a couple hundred comedians have already trod that one into the tarmac. Instead, I have a plan to restore the Olympics to what they originally were: a chance for Greeks to run around naked. Wait, no, I’m sure the Greeks can handle that one themselves. Instead, let’s turn the Olympics into a true test — not of individuals, but of countries. (via Alt Text: Cleaning Up the Olympics, Genetic-Engineering Style | Underwire | Wired.com)

Once again the world bears witness as thousands of Olympic athletes convene to be tested as they’ve never been tested before, and then if they pass the tests they get to compete in some sports. A lot of them won’t pass, of course, and will be sent home because of the growth hormone, radioactive spider venom or Y chromosomes found in their bloodstream. But we can rest assured that the remaining athletes are completely free of illegal substances, right? Because bad guys always get caught, cheaters never win, and all the kittens in the whole wide world go to bed each night with full tummies. The whole concept of doping is a weird one. Taking a young girl with athletic promise, severing her from any chance of a normal childhood, shipping her off to another country, training her day and night, then subjecting her to the sort of pressure that would crush a seafloor crab into mucus and shards — that’s normal. Topping off with a little more testosterone than your genome saw fit to give you — that’s abhorrent. However, I’m not going to suggest that we just let people dope all they want, mostly because a couple hundred comedians have already trod that one into the tarmac. Instead, I have a plan to restore the Olympics to what they originally were: a chance for Greeks to run around naked. Wait, no, I’m sure the Greeks can handle that one themselves. Instead, let’s turn the Olympics into a true test — not of individuals, but of countries. (via Alt Text: Cleaning Up the Olympics, Genetic-Engineering Style | Underwire | Wired.com)

And just to set the record straight…..
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Usain Bolt ran 100 metres in 9.58 seconds; a cheetah ran the same distance in 5.8 seconds Usain Bolt ran 200 metres in 19.19 seconds; a cheetah covered the same distance in 6.9 seconds, Black Caviar (racehorse) in 9.98 seconds, and a greyhound in 11.2 seconds Michael Johnson ran the 400 metres in 43.18 seconds compared with 19.2 seconds for a racehorse and 21.4 seconds for a greyhound David Rushida ran 800 metres in 1 minute 41 seconds, compared with 33 seconds for the pronghorn antelope and 49.2 seconds for a greyhound An endurance horse ran a full marathon in 1 hour 18 minutes and 29 seconds, compared with the 2 hours, 3 minutes and 38 second record of Patrick Makau Musyoki In the long jump, a red kangaroo has leapt 12.8 metres compared to the 8.95 metres Mike Powell achieved. Its high jump of 3.1 metres exceeds Javier Sotomayor’s at 2.45, who is also trumped by the snakehead fish, which can leap 4 metres out of the water

Even Usain Bolt can’t beat greyhounds, cheetahs…or pronghorn antelope | Science Codex
There’s been a lot of work into mathematically understanding human performance, especially record-setting human performances. The reason this is interesting is because the limits of human performance involves sampling from the very tail of a distribution, in this case, the most athletic human beings on the planet. How do we deal with this tail, when we are so used to dealing with averages and normal distributions? Happily, there are whole fields devoted to this, such as extreme value theory. But what about focusing specifically on the Olympics? Can anything interesting be done here? And if so, can we make any predictions for what will happen this summer? (via Universal Laws at the Olympics and Predictions for 2012 | Wired Science | Wired.com)

There’s been a lot of work into mathematically understanding human performance, especially record-setting human performances. The reason this is interesting is because the limits of human performance involves sampling from the very tail of a distribution, in this case, the most athletic human beings on the planet. How do we deal with this tail, when we are so used to dealing with averages and normal distributions? Happily, there are whole fields devoted to this, such as extreme value theory. But what about focusing specifically on the Olympics? Can anything interesting be done here? And if so, can we make any predictions for what will happen this summer? (via Universal Laws at the Olympics and Predictions for 2012 | Wired Science | Wired.com)

When events get under way at the London 2012 Games’ main stadium, most people following the drama on the track might not be aware they are also seeing a cutting-edge piece of technology. The track was designed and laid by Mondo, an Italian company that has provided all the tracks at the main Olympic stadiums since the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Unlike other track designs that combine traction and shock-absorption in an upper layer of rubber granules, the Mondo track separates these functions, with a cushion backing for shock absorption and a solid upper layer that optimises slip resistance, traction and durability. This design cuts the need for the spikes on athletes’ running shoes to penetrate the running surface. Shoes used on tracks fitted by the Italian firm are considerably shorter and non-penetrating. This means, the designers say, that less time and energy is lost going into the track and retracting the spikes afterwards. Both the layers in the track are made of rubber, explains Joe Hoekstra, Mondo´s project manager for London 2012. “The two layers are vulcanized, a process which cross links the molecular structure of the different materials and makes the surface more uniform, stronger and elastic,” he tells the BBC. (via BBC News - London 2012: Inside track on Olympic running surface)

When events get under way at the London 2012 Games’ main stadium, most people following the drama on the track might not be aware they are also seeing a cutting-edge piece of technology. The track was designed and laid by Mondo, an Italian company that has provided all the tracks at the main Olympic stadiums since the 1992 Games in Barcelona. Unlike other track designs that combine traction and shock-absorption in an upper layer of rubber granules, the Mondo track separates these functions, with a cushion backing for shock absorption and a solid upper layer that optimises slip resistance, traction and durability. This design cuts the need for the spikes on athletes’ running shoes to penetrate the running surface. Shoes used on tracks fitted by the Italian firm are considerably shorter and non-penetrating. This means, the designers say, that less time and energy is lost going into the track and retracting the spikes afterwards. Both the layers in the track are made of rubber, explains Joe Hoekstra, Mondo´s project manager for London 2012. “The two layers are vulcanized, a process which cross links the molecular structure of the different materials and makes the surface more uniform, stronger and elastic,” he tells the BBC. (via BBC News - London 2012: Inside track on Olympic running surface)

We like to think of the Olympics as a level playing field — that’s why doping is banned. But scientific research complicates this view: There are numerous genetic factors known to confer advantages in athletic contests, from mutations that increase the oxygen carrying capacity of blood to gene variants that confer an incredible increase in endurance, and these mutations appear to be especially common in Olympic athletes. In other words, we may want an egalitarian Olympic games, but it probably isn’t in the cards. In the latest issue of the journal Nature, Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, a duo of forward-thinking biotech leaders at the firm Excel Venture Management in Boston, propose an alternative: Push the limits even further. They understand this may be unpalatable to the average fan, but they argue that the games are already full of biological competitive advantages. (via Genetic advantages are rampant among Olympians - latimes.com)

We like to think of the Olympics as a level playing field — that’s why doping is banned. But scientific research complicates this view: There are numerous genetic factors known to confer advantages in athletic contests, from mutations that increase the oxygen carrying capacity of blood to gene variants that confer an incredible increase in endurance, and these mutations appear to be especially common in Olympic athletes. In other words, we may want an egalitarian Olympic games, but it probably isn’t in the cards. In the latest issue of the journal Nature, Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans, a duo of forward-thinking biotech leaders at the firm Excel Venture Management in Boston, propose an alternative: Push the limits even further. They understand this may be unpalatable to the average fan, but they argue that the games are already full of biological competitive advantages. (via Genetic advantages are rampant among Olympians - latimes.com)