Superhumans breaking barriers at the Olympics and Paralympics

If Olympians are superhumans, then so are Paralympians.
Many sports in the Paralympic Games are played using wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs. These aids are used by the physically challenged to fill in for their disability, bringing a minus to zero. In some cases, they even turn a minus into a plus.

Markus Rehm, a German athlete and long jump gold medalist at London Paralympic games, set the world record for the long jump at 8m40cm during the IPC Athletics World Championships at Doha, Qatar. His jump was higher than that of both the gold medalist at the Beijing Olympics (8m34cm) and the gold medalist at the London Olympics (8m31cm). I believe that it is only a matter of time before the Paralympics surpasses the Olympics.

Oscar Pistorius, an athlete with two prosthetic legs, was a trailblazer for Paralympians. In 2008, the Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned a decision made by International Association of Athletics Federations and allowed Pistorius to participate in the Olympics. He ran the men's 400m race and the men's 4 × 400m relay race. He also participated in the Paralympics held immediately after, running the 100m, 200, 400m, and 4 x 100m races. This made him the first amputee runner to participate in both games.

Both Pistorius' and Rehm's prosthetic legs were viewed with awe by sports fans. Artificial legs are no longer considered targets of pity, and are now seen as radiant proofs of power.

"There is no longer a barrier between the Olympics and Paralympics. We should just combine the two."
"No, that would be unfair. Even if our bodies perform worse than machines, it is exactly because we compete with our bodies that the Olympics have value. The two games should be kept separate."

"People wear glasses to correct their sight. They are an aid for people with poor vision. Yet, people who wear glasses are allowed to compete in the Olympics. Should we not we let people who wear prosthetic limbs compete too?"
"Glasses and prosthetic limbs are not the same. Glasses have widespread social acceptance to the point that some people even wear them as a fashion item. No one does that with prosthetic limbs."

The debate is a difficult one. Even if the Paralympics do surpass the Olympics, the soft barrier of tolerance might only be replaced with a hard barrier of rejection.

From our point of view, it is as though the Paralympians have become a privileged class. If we consider Olympians to be natural superhumans and Paralympians to be superhumans with machines, we can be part of the first group, but never the latter.

The door to the Olympics may be open to us, but if we cannot become superhumans, then we cannot participate. The door to the Paralympics is closed to begin with, and that is where the best superhumans are today. This is unfair.

Of course, there are some sports that non-disabled people could participate in, such as wheelchair basketball. However, the only way for us to wear a prosthetic leg like Rehm is to cut off one of our own. While possible, it is by no means a satisfying solution.

I believe that this is because we when think of sports, we only consider ancient sports and agrarian society sports. What we need to do is create a new sport for the 21st century, a sport to represent the information society. We should put our heads together and come up with a sport from scratch that can be played with the same set of rules by the disabled and non-disabled, the young and old, men and women, Olympians and Paralympians, and all other people.


Japan taking the lead with the Next Generation Intellectual Property System

The Next Generation Intellectual Property System committee had a meeting. Our agenda covered fair-use, AI, 3D printing, and databases. We also discussed how Japan can take the world lead.

The committee reached a basic consensus on the purpose of the Next Generation Intellectual Property System, which is ”to utilize digital and network technologies such as IoT, big data, and AI, to the fullest in order promote new businesses and innovation, leading to the development of new cultures for the benefit of society.”

On the subject of creative work by AIs, we reached a consensus on reviewing safety plans and platform measures, and with Japan as the world leader in this field, communicating our discussion overseas.

For the issue of cross-border copyright violations, the committee has come to a consensus on proceeding with legal action against the leech sites. We also plan to take measures concerning online advertisements. There will be a collaboration with the platforms in order to increase the effectiveness of our countermeasures.

As for digitization and its structure, we have examined extended collective licensing, flexible rights and restrictions systems, and other measures such as the US's fair use laws and the UK's fair dealing laws, for the purpose of creating a new system.

However, we had trouble coming to the consensus regarding a flexible rights and restrictions system for copyright. Our course of action is to work out an “early legal reform,” but the workings of the reform and how soon it can be implemented is still unknown. This solution is a difficult one to work with because it involves not only the government but also the National Diet.

Regarding the implementation of a rights and restrictions system, we have incorporated the establishment of guidelines. This is a very important factor.

The cabinet minister in charge does not demonstrate their interpretation of the Copyright Act. If there are doubts concerning the law, then a lawsuit must be filed. However, if the administration has a set of guidelines to refer to, it will be easier to determine what is legal and what is not. We believe that these guidelines should be formed by a team made up of specialists, members of the administration, and members of the judiciary system.

Another important point was brought up in the last sentence of the report.
The Copyright Act was brought into force almost 50 years ago. The report is ended with, "In order to create a copyright system for the new generation, we anticipate a substantial review of the act," hinting at a full-scale revision of the 50-year old act.

I gave a brief address at the end of the meeting.

"I took a look at the list of members before this meeting and was filled with a hope that we could really make strides, as well as a fear about whether or not we reach a consensus. In the end, I was right to feel both emotions.
The government has never tackled the issues of AI, 3D, and biodato to this extent before, and our discussion puts us at the forefront of the international community. It is extremely valuable that for the first time in 50 years, we have shown a clear intention to review the system for the next generation. However, this is only the first step on a long journey. Our next task is to make our results known both home and abroad."


Tsushinbunka: Lyon

From a column that I put together for the postal service.
The first time that a movie was screened in Japan was in Kyoto. It was at the Former Rissei Elementary School, a public school on the edge of Kamogawa. Last year’s Kyoto International Film and Art Festival was also held at this now defunct school. Immortalizing film’s culture in an elementary school lost to the ages. Beautiful.

Movies came into the world in 1895, two years before the Kyoto screening. Their birthplace was Lyon, a city in south-east France. Lyon is located at the junction of the rivers Rhône and Saône. This reminds me of how two rivers merge and run through Kyoto.

The brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière are the fathers of cinema. These two great brothers remind me of some of Japan’s own famous brothers, such as the marathon runner brothers So, the baseball player brothers Kaneda, the Hatoyama brothers, and Minamoto no Yoritomo and his brother Minamoto no Yoshitsune.

I decided to take a trip to the holy land. The invention of cinema entertained millions during the 20th century, making its inventors true heroes. Movies have been around for 120 years now, and in recent years, we are  troubled by the loss of historic works due to film’s natural deterioration. How do we preserve this great culture for the next generation, and how do we extol the heroes that gave it to us?

It turns out that both the house and workshop of the brothers Lumière have been preserved to this day. Unfortunately, the humble abode located on the outskirts of town does not see many visitors.

On that note, I noticed an even more glorified hero when I stepped out into Lyon’s airport. The airport is named after Saint Exupéry, famed author of The Little Prince. That is the name seen right at the entrance. Apparently, the airport was renamed after him in 2000 for his 100th anniversary. Yet, the airport was not renamed Lumière Airport to commemorate the brothers’ 100th anniversary back in 1995.

In Place Bellecour, a public square in the middle of Lyon, stands a bronze statue of Saint Exupéry next to one of Louis XIV. Yet, there is no statue of the brothers Lumière.

That reminds me. The French franc was the currency of France before the euro was adopted, and the 50 franc bill featured a cute drawing of The Little Prince together with a photo of Saint Exupéry.  The euro was officially adopted by France in 1999. This means that they changed the name of the Lyon airport immediately after they stopped using francs.

While our money here in Japan has been labeled with famous authors such as Natsume Soseki and Higuchi Ichiyo, no one has had an airport named after them yet. However, looking at examples such as Kochi Ryoma Airport and Yonago Kitaro Airport, we might not be far off from adopting this practice.

Saint Exupéry is considered a hero in France not only for having written captivating stories. He was also an airmail pilot. His job was an honorable one, involving delivering precious messages to their recipients. He continued to fly even during the dangerous era of World War 2, and was never heard from again after taking flight one day.

Letters may seem less important to us than movies do. However, each and every one of those letters was written with someone special in mind, and the words contained within were considered priceless by their writers. Saint Exupéry carried these letters, flying out over the Mediterranean Sea with bullets whizzing past him. That is why he is a hero. Even without the Franc, he lives on through the airport.

I am impressed. Cheers to Lyon.