Luis Figo launches app to unearth the world’s hidden footballing talents

Luis Figo, the former Portuguese international footballer and Ballon d’Or winner, has launched an app that will allow children who dream of becoming professional footballers to upload footage of their skills, be critiqued by professional players and potentially even be scouted by clubs.

The app, named Dream Football, launched today for iOS and Android and is available worldwide for both boys and girls to use.

“Dream football is a global digital platform that promotes equal opportunities for young talents worldwide,” explained Dream Football co-founder João Guerra in a press conference held today at Web Summit in Lisbon. “Any talent, anywhere in the world, can record, edit and upload videos from a mobile phone; show himself; promote himself; get feedback from professionals like Luis Figo and get scouted by clubs.”

“I think we could be very useful for people who work in scouting world,” added Figo. “Our idea is to create the quality of opportunities for all the kids that love football and want to follow the dream of being a professional one day. I think with this app they can show their talent; they can be close to the clubs we have in partnership and give them an opportunity to one day be a professional at this club.”

Luis Figo with Dream Football co-founder João Guerra at Web Summit today

Luis Figo with Dream Football co-founder João Guerra at Web Summit today

It is hoped that the app will allow children in areas without established scouting networks to be discovered for the first time, significantly widening the pool of potential professional footballers.

“It’s taking the opportunities to countries where kids never have the opportunity because nobody is scouting there, and in some countries even though somebody is scouting in the main cities, they’re not in the [rural areas],” explained Guerra.

“I come from the grassroots – that’s how I started my career – and I know how important it is to find the right tools that allow kids to achieve their dreams,” agreed Figo. “The power goes in the hands of the kid, because the kid with a mobile phone immediately can record, edit and start getting feedback and getting promoted with clubs.

“Basically what we want is to create success stories for everybody, everywhere in the world.”

Image and featured image courtesy of Web Summit

Image and featured image courtesy of Web Summit

The app is free to use both by would-be players and clubs, with some teams already signed up, and Guerra has said that the company “will be searching and offering ways for the kids to receive something back from their participation”.

“This project was started five years ago, and the first goal we had was to be useful for the kids because I love football, I have the passion of football, but of course on the other hand this is a business right now that is for free, we don’t have any kind of revenue at this moment,” added Figo.

In the long term, however, the app will be funded through commercial partnerships.

“We do plan to earn money and most of it will come from advertising, sponsorship, all those areas,” explained Guerra. “We’re focused on getting 100 million users very quickly, so growing very quickly, and then all the rest is taken care of.”

Robot takes first steps towards building artificial lifeforms

A robot equipped with sophisticated AI has successfully simulated the creation of artificial lifeforms, in a key first step towards the eventual goal of creating true artificial life.

The robot, which was developed by scientists at the University of Glasgow, was able to model the creation of artificial lifeforms using unstable oil-in-water droplets. These droplets effectively played the role of living cells, demonstrating the potential of future research to develop living cells based on building blocks that cannot be found in nature.

Significantly, the robot also successfully predicted their properties before they were created, even though this could not be achieved using conventional physical models.

The robot, which was designed by Glasgow University’s Regius Chair of Chemistry, Professor Lee Cronin, is driven by machine learning and the principles of evolution.

It has been developed to autonomously create oil-in-water droplets with a host of different chemical makeups and then use image recognition to assess their behaviour.

Using this information, the robot was able to engineer droplets to have different properties­. Those which were found to be desirable could then be recreated at any time, using a specific digital code.

“This work is exciting as it shows that we are able to use machine learning and a novel robotic platform to understand the system in ways that cannot be done using conventional laboratory methods, including the discovery of ‘swarm’ like group behaviour of the droplets, akin to flocking birds,” said Cronin.

“Achieving lifelike behaviours such as this are important in our mission to make new lifeforms, and these droplets may be considered ‘protocells’ – simplified models of living cells.”

One of the oil droplets created by the robot

The research, which is published today in the journal PNAS, is one of several research projects being undertaken by Cronin and his team within the field of artificial lifeforms.

While the overarching goal is moving towards the creation of lifeforms using new and unprecedented building blocks, the research may also have more immediate potential applications.

The team believes that their work could also have applications in several practical areas, including the development of new methods for drug delivery or even innovative materials with functional properties.

Mac spyware stole millions of user images

A criminal case brought against a man from Ohio, US has shed more light on a piece of Mac malware, dubbed Fruitfly, that was used to surreptitiously turn on cameras and microphones, take and download screenshots, log keystrokes, and steal tax and medical records, photographs, internet searches, and bank transactions from users.

Source: Ars Technica

Drone swarm attack strikes Russian military bases

Russia's Ministry of Defence claims its forces in Syria were attacked a week ago by a swarm of home-made drones. According to Russia's MoD Russian forces at the Khmeimim air base and Tartus naval facility "successfully warded off a terrorist attack with massive application of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)"

Source: Science Alert

Las Vegas strip club employs robot strippers

A Las Vegas strip club has flown in robot strippers from London to 'perform' at the club during CES. Sapphire Las Vegas strip club managing partner Peter Feinstein said that he employed the robots because the demographics of CES have changed and the traditional female strippers aren’t enough to lure a crowd to the club anymore.

Source: Daily Beast

GM to make driverless cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2019

General Motors has announced it plans to mass-produce self-driving cars without traditional controls like steering wheels and pedals by 2019. “It’s a pretty exciting moment in the history of the path to wide scale [autonomous vehicle] deployment and having the first production car with no driver controls,” GM President Dan Ammann told The Verge.

Source: The Verge

Russia-linked hackers "Fancy Bears" target the IOC

Following Russia's ban from the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympics, the Russia-linked hacking group "Fancy Bears" has published a set of apparently stolen emails, which purportedly belong to officials from the International Olympic Committee, the United States Olympic Committee, and third-party groups associated with the organisations.

Source: Wired

Scientists discover ice cliffs on Mars

Using images provided by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, scientists have described how steep cliffs, up to 100 meters tall, made of what appears to be nearly pure ice indicate that large deposits of ice may also be located in nearby underground deposits. The discovery has been described as “very exciting” for potential human bases.

Source: Science Mag