In our class discussion, my partner was Omar. I talked to him about the fact that for these sources I am focusing on how track spikes have been an improvement to the sport, analyzing the more direct human effects rather than the economic or environmental ones. I did find an article talking about the Beijing Olympics and how the uniforms worn that year reduced drag by 7% compared to the 2004 gear. However in that same article it did bring up the excellent point that it could be largely psychological effects that are resulting from having new “better” track spikes. The other big article I found was comparing the ground reaction force between normal running shoes, running flats, and track spikes, and that shows a direct contrast between the different types of modern shoes.
My questions for Omar:
1.) You said that your topic was AI, but that you were looking a lot into the capabilities and effects of computers in general on the economy. How are you planning to tie that into your discussion about AI specifically?
2.) How has AI specifically affected the economy?
My answers to Omar’s questions:
During my research I have yet to come across information specifically comparing the environmental impacts of track spikes compared to regular shoes. However, in the article preceding this answer I did find that a study conducted by MIT pointed to running shoes in general having an unusually high carbon footprint, though it did not compare them to anything. My best guess is that since track spikes also utilize a lot of synthetic materials that they would be considered equal to regular running shoes, though in the three years since the article was published athletic companies, especially Nike, have made great strides in decreasing their environmental impact across all of their products. At least this means that, whatever the current environmental impact, it is dropping and will continue to drop as the technologies advance further and further.
2.) Getting to the second question which asked about the psychological effects of track spikes, truth be told I had just mentioned it in passing as something interesting that the article talked about. That psychological effect, however, was more of a placebo effect. While there is empirical data that shows that the improvements in times by an individual when wearing a new design of track spikes are attributed to the design, there are also theories that have been proposed, such as in the article I had, which say that runners might be improving because they believe they are wearing the best running gear. This mentality is thought to bolster the confidence in elite athletes by just enough to get the extra hundredth of a second they might need to beat out their competitors, though this is impossible to test and is again, just a theory.
While track spikes may not be the most environmentally friendly form of footwear, their continued research and development already has, and will undoubtedly continue to improve the sport of track while decreasing its harmful effects on the environment.