Given that the Winter Olympics are due to open later this week in Vancouver (Canada), there is a flurry of interest in gene doping and other means of enhancing athletic performance. (I’m mentioning this because developments in elite athletics find their way into consumer markets and because of my interest in human enhancement.) For example, the University of British Columbia (UBC) is hosting,
Sport, Ethics and Technology: Is High Performance Sport Inconsistent with Ideals and Ethics?
Date/time: Monday, February 8, 8 p.m.
Location: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts
University of British Columbia
6265 Crescent Road, Vancouver
For a map and closest parking, visit: www.maps.ubc.ca?130
As the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games approach, Olympic athletes will come under close public scrutiny. New technology will offer unexpected advantages that will challenge the boundaries of what is considered a level playing field.
And given those challenges, how do we determine what is ethical and fair? These questions are explored with Richard Pound followed by a panel discussion with Jim Rupert, Beckie Scott and other participants.
*Richard Pound is a former Olympic swimmer, McGill Chancellor and World Anti-Doping Agency Chairman.
*Jim Rupert is an associate professor in the School of Human Kinetics at UBC. His research looks at future trends in doping and doping control as it pertains to genetics and “gene-doping.”
*Beckie Scott is a former Olympic cross-country ski racer who currently serves as a member of the IOC.
This event is one of five provocative dialogues presented by UBC’s Sport and Society series during February and March. Find details at: http://bit.ly/9LuMXO
Friday, Feb. 5, 2010, the lead article in Section B of The Vancouver Sun by Margaret Munro was (print version), Gene Doping; The latest way to boost performance. The article noted that Andy Miah, at the University of the West of Scotland, in contrast to Olivier Rabin and Theodore Friedmann, the experts (whose study was just published in the journal Science) quoted in the article, suggests that gene doping may be safer than current methods of enhancing performance.
I have mentioned Andy before (here in my series on human enhancement and here regarding a book he edited on art and the future). His response to the Rabin/Friedmann concerns is here. An abstract of Rabin and Friedmann’s article is available here but the full article is behind a paywall.
Andy was also featured in an article in The WestEnder (a Vancouver community newspaper) by Jackie Wong titled (in the print version), New-media [sic] centre seeks to democratize Olympic coverage. From the article,
“We can say that Vancouver 2010 is the first truly digital Olympic Games,” says Andy Miah, chair in Ethics and Emerging Technologies in the School of Media, Language, and Music at the University of the West of Scotland. Miah has been researching new media and the Olympics for 10 years, at six Olympic Games.
Andy has written an essay about new media and its role at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics at Huffington Post. From the essay,
…. perhaps the most interesting dimension of Vancouver’s media culture is the rise of three other media entities, the first of which is the W2 Centre on Hastings, led by Irwin Oostindie. W2 is a cultural and arts infrastructure, serving the independent sector. It will run an extensive programme of art, debate and cultural experiences, some of which will have buy in from the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC), while other elements will be more independent. To this end, W2 will serve as a bridge between the privileged participants and the critical commentators around Games time. For example, they will host the Legal Observers programme, headed up by the Pivot Legal Society and BC Civil Liberties Association, which will monitor the operations of Olympic security during Games time. It will also host a cultural collaboration between the London 2012 and Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiads, as part of the UK’s Abandon Normal Devices festival, led by England’s Northwest.
You can read more here.
I’ve now mentioned the two areas that Andy sees as the two major controversies from the Vancouver Olympics, doping and new media activism.
One final note on this, Andy will be bringing a team of about 10 students from his university in Scotland who will be blogging from this site, Culture@tO Vancouver 2010. I’m not sure what the start date will be, presumably Feb. 12, 2010 when the games open.
Bucky balls are the popular name for the buckminsterfullerene (aka fullerene). Named for Buckminster Fuller, the molecule resembles one of Fuller’s geodesic domes. (There’s a geodesic dome in Vancouver which houses our local science centre and during the Olympics it will be home to the Sochi [host for 2014 Olympics], Russia pavilion.) The fullerene was first discovered at Rice University in Texas and this year marks its 25th anniversary and what many describe as the birth of nanotechnology. In celebration, the university is hosting a technical symposium. From the news item on Nanowerk,
On Oct. 11-13, the best minds in carbon nanotechnology will gather at Rice University for a technical symposium during the Year of Nano, a series of events at the university celebrating the 25th anniversary of nano’s big bang.
Hmmm … I may have gone a little ‘link happy’ today. Tomorrow I should be looking at nano sponges and patents. Later this week I expect to be posting my interview with Dr. Cheryl Geisler, the new dean for Simon Fraser University’s new Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology (FCAT).