Fandom and Neomedia Studies

This Week in Fandom and Neomedia Studies News (6-12 June)

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This Week in Fandom and Neomedia Studies News (6-12 June)

NFL Responds to “Race Norming” Allegations

After many years of denying culpability, the NFL agreed to an out of court settlement, eventually reaching $1 billion, for players who suffered the effects of repeated traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). Part of the assessments for access to this fund was a process called “race norming.” Whatever the validity of this process as a medical evaluation tool, it was initially developed to help overcome racism in neuroscience and was supposed to be used in conjunction with multiple other factors in determining neurocognitive effects. Per the allegations, it was the only criterion used and it was adjusted so as to assume Black players had lower mental abilities than whites before they started playing football. This is obviously a problem.

More than 2,000 NFL retirees have filed claims. Only about 28% of those claims have been awarded as of this writing. Even though more than half of all retirees are Black, they are almost always denied funds while white counterparts, with otherwise identical situations, get at least some help. When all this was brought to the attention of the judge overseeing the case, she initially dismissed the suit. However, an effort led by NFL retirees’ families garnered over 50,000 petition signatures and the judge changed her mind, asking for a report on the matter. The report was released this week and is currently being evaluated. Read more at NPR.


Google and Janelia Research Map Neurons at Unprecedented Scale; Tech Freely Available

Using a fruit fly (D. melanogaster) as their subject, Google and Janelia Research have mapped out a brain and its various neural connections at an unprecedented scale, mapping roughly a quarter of the neurons in 3D. This allows researchers to see the millions of connections between neurons that set up discrete regions known as connectomes. The media technology they used for the project, developed by the Howard Hughes Research Institute, of which Janelia is a part, is available for anyone to use for free. Read more at HHRI.


Oxford UP Is Down

Oxford University Press began printing in 1478 and received a royal charter to do so in 1586. They have become a cornerstone of reliable academic publishing over the last five centuries. Almost of its actual physical printing, however, has been outsourced since 1989. In August of this year, what little remains of in-house printing will end. Read more at The Bookseller.


AI Satellite Tech Lets Us Track War in Real Time

A group led by Hannes Mueller has devised a way to use modern satellite data, which is nearly universally available and has almost complete global coverage, to track the progress of conflict in real time. Using data from the Syrian civil war as a model, the technology has shown promise, allowing researchers to see damage to individual buildings, whether in sparsely populated rural areas or dense urban regions. Observing and cataloguing the progress of conflicts in this way will help direct humanitarian aid workers to where they are needed most, help alert people to get out of the way of incoming fighting, and in general has the potential to record war crimes for later prosecution. Read more at PNAS.


Jumpcut Uses AI to Expand Media Diversity

Jumpcut, founded by Kartik Hosanagar, an AI specialist at the Wharton School, uses AI algorithms to search through YouTube, Reddit, Wattpad, and other online platforms to look for emerging talent in general and minority talents in general. In addition to all the reasons that diversity representation in media is important in and of itself, it is estimated that Hollywood loses on the order of $10 billion annually because it lacks diversity. Jumpcut’s AI is attempting to address at least part of this problem by finding independent creators and helping Hosanagar decide where to invest.

The AI has already had a strange sort of success. Entirely on its own, it found an online posting of a script by Anna Hopkins, an actress who has appeared on Shadowhunters and The Expanse. It was not looking for her in particular, but flagged her for review. She is not known as a writer, but the AI picked up on her for that instead of for acting. Similarly, Jumpcut brings together people with ideas and established talent to work in incubators, which have been the origins of most of their current projects. Read more at Tech Crunch.

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