Silent Protests

race

Ex-NFL Quarterback, Colin Kaepernick has truly started a conversation on race and justice. Last year, the quarterback kneeled in protest during the anthem to start a national conversation. Thanks to the president’s blast of rage this week, we finally have one on a national platform.

Last sunday, players who previously wanted nothing of a racial dialogue now stood before giant flags, linking arms in protest. Owners who once wished their kneeling players would just stop offending fans fired off statements in their support. Networks who have avoided showing the raised fists of dissent had no choice but show the rows of players standing strong against Trump’s rage.

Are such silent protests necessary? Destabilising? Rational? Is civil discourse useful? Are there other ways to make the same point? So many questions and interestingly the ongoing discourse between both sides might/might not make a difference. What is your view?

 

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/sep/24/colin-kaepernick-conversation-donald-trump-anthem-kneel?CMP=share_btn_link

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Stop the Influx of Tourists!

tourists

While many cities open their arms to the tourist dollar, Amsterdam is bucking the trend. They intend to impose tourist taxes to limit the increase in numbers. This bold initiative is in reaction to the growing unease of actual Amsterdam residents that the tourist numbers are negatively changing the city landscape and thus they want to reclaim their city.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/sep/11/amsterdam-to-increase-tourist-tax-to-reclaim-city-for-residents

Is this a trend for the future? Many cities face this growing unease at the hordes of tourists that descend on their cities. Will more and more authorities start listening to the city resident feedback or will governments continue to believe that they know better and sideline the  feedback from the ground?

Ultra Thin and Porno-Chic – world of modelling

The world of modelling has had  a wake up call with fashion houses finally doing the right thing and banning ultra thin models from the catwalk and advertisements. Long has this practice of ultra thin models been lambasted for encouraging extremely harmful body types and health problems. This is possibly the first positive step in the fashion industry. Next, will be to deal with the trend of using really young models in suggestive poses that has come to be labelled ‘porno-chic’.

Is enough being done to clean up the fashion industry? What more can be done to improve the lives of these young models? What more can be done to improve the standards of advertising when it comes to negative and exploitative advertising?

http://www.straitstimes.com/world/europe/size-32-out-size-34-in-french-fashion-giants-ban-ultra-thin-models

Censorship and China

When we speak of censorship and China, we might immediately think of the Great Chinese Firewall. But Cambridge University Press have been implicated of something more sinister.

One of the most established publishing house, Cambridge University Press, has been accused of being an accomplice to the Communist party’s bid to whitewash Chinese history after it agreed to purge hundreds of politically-sensitive articles from its Chinese website at the request of Beijing. CUP has confirmed that it had complied with a Chinese request to block more than 300 articles from the China Quarterly, a leading China studies journal. This seems to be barter deal to ensure that ensure that other academic and educational materials remain available to researchers and educators in China.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/19/cambridge-university-press-accused-of-selling-its-soul-over-chinese-censorship?utm_source=esp&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=GU+Today+main+NEW+H+categories&utm_term=240054&subid=17049047&CMP=EMCNEWEML6619I2

Should we ban Killer Robots?

killerrobot

An open letter signed by Tesla chief and Alphabet’s Mustafa Suleyman urges the UN to block the use of lethal autonomous weapons to prevent a third age of war. Some of the world’s leading robotics and artificial intelligence pioneers are calling on the United Nations to ban the development and use of killer robots. The founders wrote: “Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend. These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways. “We do not have long to act. Once this Pandora’s box is opened, it will be hard to close.”

Are these potential manifestations of AI still in the realm of science fiction and thus these founders may be selling an alarmist myth? Or do these autonomous weapons systems, which are on the cusp of development right now, possess a very real potential to cause significant harm to innocent people? What are some of the possible harmful potentialities that these robots possess beyond their defensive capabilities? Could these robots go on to affect global instability? What are some of the ethical and moral concerns that autonomous AI engender?

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/aug/20/elon-musk-killer-robots-experts-outright-ban-lethal-autonomous-weapons-war?CMP=share_btn_link

 

Big data Mining

big data

Silicon Valley is an extractive industry. Its resource isn’t oil or copper, but data. Companies harvest this data by observing as much of our online activity as they can. This activity might take the form of a Facebook like, a Google search, or even how long your mouse hovers in a particular part of your screen. Alone, these traces may not be particularly meaningful. By pairing them with those of millions of others, however, companies can discover patterns that help determine what kind of person you are – and what kind of things you might buy.

We need to seriously consider if we should or should not let the tech industry make all these decisions and more, with practically no public oversight. What kind of oversight are we looking for in the first place? Is a Big Brother scenario on the horizon? Should Companies that yanks data out of our collective lives be allowed to do that unhindered or are we helpless in this modern Big Data world?

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/23/silicon-valley-big-data-extraction-amazon-whole-foods-facebook

Which Education system is better?

In is so simple in assessing Education systems? In this BBC documentary series, Welsh teenagers from Pembrokeshire experience South Korea’s education systems, one of the best, and toughest, in the world. Look at the cultural, assessment and curriculum differences and gauge for yourself which system is better? Or instead just pick out the differences and similarities of these systems and propose a hybrid future school that will be more effective for students.