The Null Device
Some interesting observations on Australasian demographics, from the most recent KPMG Population Growth Report. The report confirms the "bloke drought" some Australian women have observed, and blames it on globalisation, with eligible bachelors decamping to more vital and/or exciting parts of the world. As one might expect, New Zealand is more affected by this than Australia:
"If you are a 34-year-old heterosexual woman in New Zealand, you have as much chance of finding a male partner of your own age as does an 85-year-old woman."
He believes this trend has contributed to New Zealand's "matriarchal society" - both its prime minister and governor-general are women.(New Zealand is a matriarchial society? Perhaps the Doug Anthony Allstars were onto something...)
Another part of the report highlights the "sea change movement", i.e., Australian aspirationals moving to small coastal towns:
Mr Salt believes the so-called sea change is now a legitimate "third Australian culture". "First it was the bush, then it was the 'burbs, and now it is the beach".Interesting how that list of "legitimate Australian cultures" omits the inner cities, without which Australia would have been little more than a nation of bourgeois curtain-twitchers eating Yorkshire puddings and mashed potatoes around the telly and tut-tutting disapprovingly along with the Herald-Sun. Could they have bought into the Howard-era silent-majoritarian doctrine that such rootless cosmopolitanism is somehow inherently un-Australian?
Meanwhile, Japanese roboticists have developed a lifelike "female" android. Apparently Repliee Q1, which moves and even appears to breathe like a human, is so realistic that unconsciously, people forget that it is a non-sentient machine:
"More importantly, we have found that people forget she is an android while interacting with her. Consciously, it is easy to see that she is an android, but unconsciously, we react to the android as if she were a woman."The researchers plan to make even more realistic robots (all of which, for some reason, tend to be modelled on women or young girls; perhaps that has something to do with the objectification of women Japanese culture or something?), and believe that they can get robots which can fool humans into believing they are real for up to 10 minutes in controlled situations.
Putting this together with the recent Swiss cockroach robot research suggests a lot of opportunities. Maybe we'll see Japanese android trials involving fembots successfully luring sararimen out of karaoke bars, or something similar.
It turns out that web filtering software from US company Symantec has been blocking anti-war emails. Mails containing links to www.afterdowningstreet.org were blocked by Symantec's anti-spam software, because the link allegedly received 46,000 complaints. Which means either that all it takes to censor the public's email in the US (and, presumably, other countries which buy Symantec software) is the capacity to send a lot of complaints (which is not hard these days), or that it is Symantec policy to use its power in the marketplace to impose a specific political ideology, à la Wal-Mart. (Does anybody know whether the owners of Symantec have a specific political bias?)