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View Full Version : Will Microchipping and Bionics destroy the fabric and integrity of Sport?



jkmccrann
2007-Aug-29, 12:00 PM
Once microchipping and bionics advances to a degree that many in developed countries enjoy the benefits of microchipping - will the integrity of sporting competitions be eroded and eventually be destroyed? As drugs are doing at the moment, but on an even grander scale?

This is one thing I can't get my head around, if microchipping of society comes along at some stage in this century, such that most people in developed societies eventually enjoy the 'benefits' of microchipping to speed up all sorts of activities, how on Earth does sport cope with that effect?

Does sport try and ban microchips and technological and artificial enhancements at some level, or are athletes allowed to get as microchipped as possible? And once you open the door to allowing technological implants in athletes, how can you possibly draw any line, except a line in the sand that will soon be washed away by the incoming tide of technological advancement?

And if athletes are banned from pursuing this sort of technological enhancement, how on Earth does that square with the rest of society that enjoys the benefits? Do athletes have to exist in some sort of nether world in which they have to keep themselves inferior to the rest of the population in order to be able to compete in their chosen sport?

To me that seems completely ridiculous and untenable, which means athletes will have to be allowed to be microchipped up as much as possible, but then, again, where can the line be drawn? Artificial eyes, monitors of all sorts of indicators inside the body, chips in the brain that effectively allow non-verbal communication between players, by the use of mere thoughts - where does it stop, indeed, what is to stop people in the crowd, who also have these chips on their brains, sending thoughts to the athletes? How does the quality of the microchipping effect the competitiveness of a team against another one? Will the winners be decided more than ever in the R&D departments of the various companies making the various types of micro-chips?

How does one control this sort of thing? Frankly, I believe that as technology advances, sport as a pure human pursuit is doomed to irrelevance - technological advancement will eventually grind the unpredictability and excitement of sport that that unpredictability generates, into the ground.

Cybernetics and bionics portend a grey future indeed for sport.

mike alexander
2007-Aug-29, 02:39 PM
jk, with all respect, if such a future comes to pass, the integrity of sport would be the LEAST of my worries.

Neverfly
2007-Aug-29, 02:44 PM
agreed.
This sounds like something from Ghost In The Shell.

pilgrim
2007-Aug-29, 02:46 PM
I was reading the OP and all I kept thinking was: "Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca"

Think it had to do with all the sports medals Jude Law's character had for various sports. Now that would be a gray future, everyone being bioengineered for their future job (i.e. pianists born with 5 fingers plus thumb per hand)! Anybody knows what I'm on about?

mugaliens
2007-Aug-29, 03:09 PM
Once microchipping and bionics advances to a degree that many in developed countries enjoy the benefits of microchipping - will the integrity of sporting competitions be eroded and eventually be destroyed? As drugs are doing at the moment, but on an even grander scale?

Absolutely. All competitive sporting events have the right to use any natural means of enhancing a player's ability. The question is, where to draw the line?

Obviously steroids are out as they're very bad for you, long-term. But what about vitamins? Most don't grow on bushes, so should they be banned? I would think not, as in the right doses they're actually helpful without being harmful. How about the treatment of sports injuries, many of which are given local steroid injections to help heal the wounds?

I personally believe that anything that's helpful should be allowed, and anything that's harmful should be banned. If it's both, then throw the baby out with the bathwater and ban it.


This is one thing I can't get my head around, if microchipping of society comes along at some stage in this century, such that most people in developed societies eventually enjoy the 'benefits' of microchipping to speed up all sorts of activities, how on Earth does sport cope with that effect?

Bruce Lee built up his muscular structure, in part, by using electric paddles like the ones used in physical therapy. In the 1960s. The problem I see with this is that any unnatural exercise, including microchipping, tends to increase stresses. Done gently, over time, allowing the bones and ligaments to strengthen, it can improve ability, but it still poses additional risks of cartilage damage.


And if athletes are banned from pursuing this sort of technological enhancement, how on Earth does that square with the rest of society that enjoys the benefits?

Non-atheletes aren't top-level performers, and their chipping is a personal decision, not for monetary gain.


Artificial eyes, monitors of all sorts of indicators inside the body, chips in the brain that effectively allow non-verbal communication between players, by the use of mere thoughts - where does it stop, indeed, what is to stop people in the crowd, who also have these chips on their brains, sending thoughts to the athletes?

I think we've gotten into the ridiculous category. Cool, but ridiculous for competitive sports.


Cybernetics and bionics portend a grey future indeed for sport.

I hope they never play a role in sport, unless it's for the non-competitive love of cycling which would enable a girl with, say, cerebral palsy to enjoy something fun like the rest of us.

Chuck
2007-Aug-29, 03:18 PM
If everyone has embedded chips then it won't be seen as unfair for athletes to have them too. Contact lenses and metal replacements for broken bones aren't seen as cheating now. Rules will be made for future implants and adjusted as necessary. Sports will survive.

Neverfly
2007-Aug-29, 04:07 PM
I was reading the OP and all I kept thinking was: "Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca Gattaca"

Think it had to do with all the sports medals Jude Law's character had for various sports. Now that would be a gray future, everyone being bioengineered for their future job (i.e. pianists born with 5 fingers plus thumb per hand)! Anybody knows what I'm on about?

Yeah Gattica was a pretty freaky movie-I liked it though.
I dread a future that is like that, however.

Doodler
2007-Aug-29, 04:16 PM
I think we've gotten into the ridiculous category. Cool, but ridiculous for competitive sports.

Like heck its ridiculous. The NFL went into a minor uproar when helmet communication equipment was introduced. In active team sports, communication is essential. Anything that improves communication while preventing your opponents from listening in is a clear cut advantage.

Right now in baseball, its a minor art reading the signals between a pitcher and a catcher. If someone were to develop a means where these guys could communicate through tongue clicks instead of visible signals that someone might read, that's a pretty dramatic shift in tactics, regardless of the subtlety of execution. Base stealing, coaching signals from first and third, there's a LOT of room in there for concealed secure communication to give an edge.

pilgrim
2007-Aug-29, 04:16 PM
Yeah Gattica was a pretty freaky movie-I liked it though.
I dread a future that is like that, however.

Yeah, I liked it too. One of those films that occasionally pop into my head randomly and still seem as ideologically and intellectually worthy of debate as they were the first time I saw them.

TrAI
2007-Aug-29, 10:11 PM
Hmmm... Now, I do not care for sports att all, so from my viewpoint the whole sporting thing is rather irrelevant already.

However, I do not see any problems, I expect that as humans are rather competitive by nature, they will just make some new sports for enhanced people. As for keeping the athletes back, well, I see no need for that, it will be kind of like some of the motor sports, sure there are limits, but most of the vehicles are far beyond what the public generaly uses in the specific areas the specific sport requires. All the teams would employ programmers, engineers and so on and attempt to tweak the 'ware to get that little edge...

I am not really sure that most people would elect to have bionic limbs fitted unless they actually needed them, the ones fitted by nature is quite efficient as they are, it is more likely that implants would tend towards brain-computer interfacing and perhaps nano repair systems to repair injuries and decay. After all, if you are fitted with the appropriate interfaces, it is easier and more logical to remote control a robot built for the spesific purpouse rather than having your entire body rebuilt to support the bionics...

Ronald Brak
2007-Aug-30, 12:29 AM
Actually I invented a system that could have revolutionised sport as we know it and made it vastly more efficient, but people were just too hidebound to accept it. Basically it consisted of extending the concept of the coin toss to determine which team goes first to using a coin toss to determine which team wins, allowing everyone to go home early, reducing sports injuries and increasing society's productivity, but instead of implementing it people just laughed at me. It's tough being a genius.

Ilya
2007-Aug-31, 02:08 AM
To answer the OP, I think most sports will adopt gradated systems similar to those currently done in freediving (also known as breath-hold diving). There are at least seven different categories, all of them involve holding one’s breath under water as long as possible, but all use different equipment and produce wildly different results. Here are official world records as of 7/16/07:

Constant weight (swim down, then swim up): 111 meters depth
Constant weight without fins: 82 meters depth
Free immersion (pull yourself along a rope instead of swimming): 106 meters depth
Variable weight (descend with a lead weight, then drop it and swim up): 140 meters
No limits (descend with a weight, then ride a balloon back up): 214 meters

You could say that world champion in No Limits category is cheating – he is not even swimming, just relying on technology to get him as deep as possible, then to return him safely to the surface. But then, he gets himself exposed to stresses a Constant Weight freediver would never survive. And most freedivers compete in more than one category. IOW, technology changes the limits, but limits still exist, and as long as all competitors are equally “enhanced”, competition remains valid. I can ride a bicycle faster than world’s fastest sprinter can run, but this does not invalidate the sport of running in the least, nor makes me a cheat. And I can not ride bicycle anywhere near as fast or long as a professional cyclist.

As for Gattaca, I always found that movie completely implausible, and people who worry about it coming true silly. It (and they) assumes that genetic engineering will result in one perfect standard. Far more likely, various genetic enhancements will be incompatible with each other – and even if they are, most people will want unique enhancements. And the variety of purely (or partly) cosmetic enhancements will utterly dwarf the variety of functional ones. Look at a typical rave crowd, with all their tattoos, piercings and contact lenses. What would happen if they could actually grow multicolored fur, cat claws, webbed fingers, and elf ears? Not a bunch of Jude Law clones, that’s for sure. The far more likely outcome of human genetic engineering is not a race of uniform supermen, but many different races, some differing only superficially, others very significantly – chlorophyll in the skin, functional gills, etc.

Ilya
2007-Dec-20, 07:39 PM
Nobody replied to my last post on this thread. Apparently a lot of people are afraid that genetic engineering of humans will bring a tyranny of uniformity. I think exact opposite will happen. Any comments?

filrabat
2007-Dec-20, 08:57 PM
Agreed Ilya. Nobody has the same kinds of tattoos.

If we get precise control over our genes, anything not violating the laws of physics is possible. In short, we won't have to go to the starts to find humanoid "aliens", "greys", and the proverbial "little green men"...we could have them right here in Earth! Do I even have to mention the "starburst" looking evolution/speciesation diagram springing from Homo Sapiens sapiens

If I had to have my choice of redesigned people, tops on my list would be one with a redesigned brain and a much delayed puberty (That's all I'll say about this, for my ideas on 'more efficient humans' would be way off topic).

Anyway, Ilya, to repeat, I do agree with you on this one.

HenrikOlsen
2007-Dec-22, 08:46 PM
Agreed Ilya. Nobody has the same kinds of tattoos.
I think it's a good analogy, but I have to disagree with your statement.
Not everybody has the same kinds of tattoos, but the vast majority have tattoos picked from a very limited range of styles, with not a lot of originality shown.

I'd expect something similar for trait-sets picked by parents for their children, minor variations on a very few standard models.

Just think, now people blame their parents for messing up their lives, they will really be right if it's because of choices they made when designing the child.

I'm reminded of a Heinlein story where the protagonist was unable to have the profession he wanted because his parents had neglected to pick photographic memory as one of his traits.