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Volume 333

It’s coming home. In the final coolsh*t of May, we’re bringing you footy history, artistic AI, and the glasses of the future. And if that’s not enough, there’s an opportunity to win literally bucketloads of chicken.

Selfless Self-Portraits.

Can you paint a self-portrait if you lack a sense of self? That’s what a team of programmers, roboticists, artists and psychologists have attempted to find out. And the answer is a resounding and somewhat terrifying ‘course you bloody can, mate’. Introducing Ai-Da, a life-size android who creates provocative self-portraits and abstract paintings with her cold, metal hands. Powered by AI to replicate the mannerisms of a real-life woman, she’s now the star of her own exhibition that premiered at London’s Design Museum last week and runs through Aug. 29. An exhibition from which she’s already pocketed over $1million in sales, by the way. I say pocketed, and that could indeed be literally, as the team dress her up in a tasteful selection of outfits and wigs. I wonder who got stuck with the job of putting the robot’s dress on. You wouldn’t want to be the guy with a reputation for volunteering for that one too quickly.

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Gassed Up.

It can be slightly depressing seeing the things you held dear as a child slowly vanishing from existence. I reckon it all began when Jamie Oliver took away turkey dinosaurs. Now, it’s looking as if even something as pure and joyous as the humble balloon might be evil. Well, at least the plastic ones are. It’s basically universally agreed upon now that ‘single-use plastic = boo, hiss’, and discarded party balloons tend to fall into that unfortunate category. But not necessarily, because Nuven have worked out a way to make shoes out of them. All materials are 100% upcycled, 100% sustainable and 100% vegan – and, to be fair, the shoes actually look better than those 3 qualifies would probably lead you to imagine. So I think it’s absolutely imperative that this idea catches on, or else we’re on a slippery slope that ends with incredibly depressing birthday parties. First the balloons will go. Then it’ll be gluten-free cakes only. Even pin the tail on the donkey probably creates some uncomfortable animal rights conversations now. So, for the sake of the children, it’s time to start wearing balloon shoes.

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It shows how spoiled we are that just as we’re suddenly able to go out and experience more of the world again, we take a few looks around and say “nah, needs more holograms and stuff”. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel unveiled the 3rd generation of their augmented reality ‘Spectacles’ this week, and the difference is that these are the first ones that actually kind of augment reality. The frame features four built-in microphones, two stereo speakers, a built-in touchpad and front-facing cameras to detect real-life surfaces so the AR graphics interact more naturally with the world around you. Great! So where do I buy them? Well, you can’t. Huh? Currently, they’re only available to a group of hand-picked artists and creators to experiment with. So much for inclusivity then. But Snap, along with with Facebook and basically all the other Silicon Valley pointy-heads reckon we’ll all be sporting these within the next decade, so get ready.

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Poultry in Motion.

What would you do for a load of free fried chicken? This is one of the hypothetical conundrums that has been perplexing moral philosophers for millennia. And it appears that, for a lot of people, the answer is that they will do quite a great deal indeed. KFC are on the hunt for a ‘superfan’ who can demonstrate their commitment to the Colonel above all others to win a year’s supply of chicken. Sounds awfully cult-ish when you put it like that, doesn’t it? But that’s not all! You’ll also win an all-expenses-paid trip to Kentucky. You know, the state represented by Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul where Jack Harlow nearly got shot a couple weeks ago. What a dreamlike Xanadu. Why couldn’t it have been Barbados Fried Chicken?

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Had a Touch.

I was reasonably impressed by the AR sunglasses, but this makes them look rather trivial. This week, scientists achieved a historic breakthrough in medical robotics, as they were able to give a brain-controlled robot arm the sense of touch. Which is doubly impressive if you, like me, didn’t even know that there was such a thing as a brain-controlled robot arm. Nathan Copeland, after suffering a car accident, was paralysed from the chest down and enrolled in a medical trial that saw scientists implant chips in his brain that would allow him full control of a robotic arm. And as completely mental as that is, they’ve now gone one further by installing sensors at the fingertips that allow him to actually feel the things that he’s touching. As Prince Harry would say: that is bonkers.

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It's Coming Home.

Unless you’re lucky enough to support a decent team, the average football fan has a complicated relationship with the game. A week ago, it felt like a blessed relief when the season finally ended and we could stop making ourselves miserable every weekend. But now that it’s gone, we’re getting withdrawals and have started counting down the days to the Euro’s – all just so we can watch a different team shatter our hopes and dreams. Usually, an international tournament would mean pubs filled to the rafters and pints a plenty flying all over the gaff, but this time around you might actually need somewhere to place your beer down for a moment. Lucky for you, Gordon Reid and Callum Stephenson have launched Weird Euros, a beer mat collection featuring illustrations from David Shrigley, Chris Simpson and more, to celebrate the “weird and funny” moments from Euro history. And it’s all to raise money for grassroots charities. Let’s just hope their next collection in 2024 doesn’t feature that “weird and funny” moment from 2021 when England got battered by Scotland in the group stages. It really is coming home this year though. God, it’s like a sickness.

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