Business and Technology Articles Contributed by UWA Students

Month: October 2017

5 cultural changes making us reconsider diamond rings

Diamonds are symbolic to weddings and love, but it wasn’t always so. The first recorded instance of diamonds used on engagement rings was in 1477, when Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposed with a ring “set with flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an ‘M'”. After diamonds were discovered in South Africa, the market changed with the slogan ‘A diamond is forever’ due to the stone’s hardness, thus solidifying its status as a symbol of love. However, rather than just a commercial effort, engagement rings should be meaningful and there are five alternatives to forgo that diamond tradition.

  1. Heirlooms

Perhaps much more valuable than a diamond, heirlooms passed down through the ages are much more significant than something store bought. One famous example would be Kate Middleton’s heirloom sapphire engagement ring which once belonged to Princess Diana. Nothing quite says welcome to the family than something that’s been in the family for generations.

  1. Gemstones or Birthstones

The next best thing would be a precious gemstone, perhaps one that signifies the bride’s birth date or one that resonates with her. As engagement or wedding bands are supposed to last forever, do take into consideration its resilience. When choosing a gemstone, bear in mind its hardness and durability. Rubies, sapphires are considered the more hardy ones, followed by aquamarine and topazes. The softer gems include pearls, opals and emeralds. Even though emeralds rank quite high on the MOH scale, it is a brittle gem prone to cracking.

  1. Traditional Customs

The Claddagh ring dates back to seventeenth century Ireland and is a ring with a pair of hands holding up a heart topped with a crown, symbolizing friendship, love and loyalty. There are also the options of a Celtic Knot which symbolizes eternity, the Lover’s Knot popularized by sailors or the Infinity Ring which was brought to prominence in recent years as a fun spin on the mathematical symbol and the number eight’s significance in Chinese custom and Christianity, making it a popular choice.

  1. Customised Rings

Why let a designer decide what to put on your betroths finger when you are sure she will love something unconventional? There are guides on how to build a custom made ring which follows what has become seen as normal, and there are also countless creative ideas on the internet – one merely has to find one suited the one’s lady. There’s the ring that allows you to feel each other’s heartbeat from all around the world, how about one built from one’s own body part? Sci-fi fanatics can also rejoice with geeky rings such as one inspired by R2D2, Lord of the Rings or virtually any fandom.

  1. Tattoos

While tattoos used to be seen as criminal, it has been grudgingly acknowledged as art and self expression. Numerous couples have taken up the practice of tattooing wedding bands instead of getting jewellery as tattoos cannot be lost and are permanent. Celebrities have endorsed this and therefore is no surprise at how widely accepted it has become.

Futurelove: A new orientation emerges

The mannequins and dolls, robots that satisfy your every desire as well as virtual wives in domestic bliss with their owners may one day cause the LGBT community to add another letter to their name.

From the 2013 sci-fi movie Her where the main character falls in love with an AI (played by Scarlett Johansson) to the HBO series Westworld, where robots provide pleasure to the super rich, this fixture of popular culture and fiction has now crept into the real world.

The 21st century’s detachment and dissatisfaction with regular human contact as well as the need for more “customized” stimulation seems to have been taken to its logical conclusion.

With technology growing at breakneck speed and providing humanity with degrees of separation never known before, its probably inevitable that the landscape of love and relationships would alter as well.

To some of us, switching to relationships with man-made objects might make sense. Instead of a nagging spouse, why not a lover that doesn’t speak (or only says what it has been programmed to)?

Those that have shifted into futurelove mode may speak about it as being a higher connection on another level (something us boring hetero people just might not get).

I remember attending a world communication conference where a certain government minister spoke about getting too attached to technology and quipped that we might as well marry our smartphones if we are already looking at them before we sleep and first thing upon waking up.

Japan takes the lead

Ancient Shinto tradition views all inanimate objects as having a ‘life force’ and Japan’s traditional relationship and gender norms are changing dramatically while the Japanese population is in decline.

A Japanese company had 18 shipments of child-like sex dolls for pedophiles seized by officials when they tried to export them and Kanojotoys or Orient Industries based in Tokyo are among the world’s most advanced sex doll firms. One of many Japanese men in futurelove mode, Senji Nakajima is in love with a rubber doll named ‘Saori’ and often takes her out shopping while Physiotherapist Masayuki Ozaki claims to have become turned off by human relationships and lives with his silicone/rubber lovers under the same roof as his wife and daughter who have learnt to accept it. There are also ‘Dutch wives’, which can cost up to £6,000, beautiful dolls with movable joints and a wide range of hair colors and head types.

Aside from physical dolls, advances in AI and VR also provide many options for those interested to explore abit of futurelove. In a particularly depressing development, Gatebox (sold by Japanese company Vinclu) targets young, lonely salarymen. It is an AI home automation system that allows characters like Azuma Hikari (voiced by Japanese actress Yuka Hiyamizu) to interact with the home owner like a domestic partner ,

Then there’s the dating simulation game Golden Marriage Jewel Days which lets players fall in love and tie the knot with virtual honeys. A promotional campaign for the game gave fans life-sized cardboard standees of their favorite characters as prizes.

On 30 June 2017, the creators of Niitzuma LovelyxCation, a romance video game from developer Hibiki Works is scheduled to hold a marriage ceremony (in a chapel) where players can put on a VR headset and exchange vows with their lady of choice.

Regulation and robot babies

Catalan nanotechnology engineer Sergi Santos is even gearing up to have a baby with his AI sex doll Samantha. Today, several brothels (featuring dolls or robots), such as this one in Spain and this one in Germany, prove that the era of futurelove has arrived and is gaining ground .

NUI Galway Law professor John Danaher In his report, ‘Sex work, Technological unemployment and the Basic income guarantee’ claims that sex robot brothels are a safer alternative to an industry rife with issues of disease as well as sex slavery and thinks that robots could be better at developing emotional bonds with their clients. Experts claim that sex robot brothels will become common in Britain and research suggests the invention may lower divorce rates.

While you could chalk this shift up to just being another phenomenon of the 21st century, much like the advent of online marriage counseling, there are however, those that would argue against it. Policymakers have to face the issues brought about by this new development such as whether such devices should be used by sex offenders or whether they may in fact reduce sexual crime. There is also the issue of real sex workers who may have their livelihoods stolen from them by the robot prostitutes. Dr Kathleen Richardson a fierce opponent of this development and a senior research fellow in Robotics at De Montfort University, Leicester, would like to see sex robots banned, saying that they reinforce the position of people as objects.

Could tech bridge the Australia-Indonesia relationship?

Indonesia and Australia have had a somewhat rocky relationship over the last few years, and while relations have mostly normalized, experts have claimed for many years that what the Australia-Indonesia relationship needs is a bridge of business and community ties to provide it with the resilience and stability it needs to truly prosper.

The building blocks of this bridge may just turn out to be technology.

Right now, Indonesia is a hot-spot for tech start-ups, with Indonesian start-up investment reaching $3 billion dollars in 2017. Australia has already begun to branch into this lucrative new area of investment, although somewhat slowly. The muru-d tech start-up accelerator, created by Telstra, has been working with Indonesian entrepreneurs since 2016. But thanks to the digital revolution, there is still enormous potential for collaboration between Australian and Indonesian start-ups. Fostering networks of professional entrepreneurs provides chances for the exchange of both knowledge and cultural capital, both of which can only serve to enrich the relationship between the two countries at a level below the political.

Indonesia also has a rabid appetite for the internet, with 64 million Indonesians active on Facebook, its capital, Jakarta, was named the world’s most active city on Twitter. This is great news for businesses with a digital presence, as the rise of social media not only connects them with wider audiences, but also provides new markets to tap into. Companies providing diverse web-based services, from large national companies like isentia, to locally-based community businesses, like Hosting Australia, can find ample clients in the social-media savvy and tech-hungry Indonesian market, providing the sort of business connections which experts say will deepen and strengthen the bi-lateral relationship like.

Even exporting solar power to Indonesia is on the table, with a dialogue on the subject on the capacity for supply already open between the two countries, and a research proposal under development to find a way to transport power generated in Western Australia’s Pilbara region to Indonesia via a subsea cable.

Metadata may also provide a way in which technology can expand the relationship between Australia and Indonesia. The practical uses of sharing big data might not be apparent at first, but when it comes to urban planning, rolling out infrastructure to rural areas, and other aspects of upgrading and digitizing communities, sharing metadata related to population densities, traffic patterns and even the weather can provide policy makers and designers with valuable information.

Both Australian and Indonesian industries have been affected by the disruption of recent technology, in both countries banks, media outlets, education and artistic industries are all facing similar problems, and all trying to tackle the same changes. This is perhaps the biggest aspect where technology could provide the bridge in the Indonesian-Australian relationship, as collaborating on solutions bi-laterally, rather than unilaterally, is likely to provide faster and more profitable results for both countries.

As technology continues to advance, the best way for Indonesia and Australia to benefit, is to navigate the changing digital landscape together.

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