How the Nation of Luxembourg Is Racing to Privatise Space

Arkyd 6 spacecraft
Arkyd 6 spacecraft

Mining asteroids is the new old game, though no longer science fiction. The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – which has all the square footage of an asteroid and, with a population up to slightly over half a million – has earmarked €200m to fund NewSpace companies that join its new space sector. In July, the parliament passed its law – the first of its kind in Europe, and the most far-reaching in the world – asserting that if a Luxembourgish company launches a spacecraft that obtains water, silver, gold or any other valuable substance on a celestial body, the extracted materials will be considered the company’s legitimate private property by a legitimate sovereign nation.

Should space benefit “all of humankind”, as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated? How do you measure those benefits, anyway? Does trickle-down theory apply in zero-gravity conditions?

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

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How Casinos & Slot Machines Are Designed to Facilitate Gambling Addiction

Sideroad slot machine, photo by Skip the Filler / CC BY-NC-ND

Gamblers, and more specifically slot machine gamblers, get addicted because they crave to be in the “zone” – the feeling players describe when they’re completely absorbed in a game, claims this podcast’s guest – Natasha Dow Schüll, a cultural anthropologist at New York University. They don’t really care about winning; rather they want to escape the world and become subsumed in their game.
Casinos also facilitate this addiction by designing the most optimal gambling experience which keeps gamblers playing…and playing…and playing. This ranges from the perambulant layout of the casinos themselves to the ergonomic design of the slot machine chairs, to the games’ false wins that create an illusion of winning. And casinos are now taking advantage of big data systems which track users’ gambling preferences to incentivize players to stay in their chairs as long as possible.
Natasha Dow Schüll is the author of “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas”.

Adam Ruins Everything

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On the Future of Cars

Two significant trends for the future of personal travel are unfolding – the increasing number of electric cars and a world of autonomous vehicles. Benedict Evans of venture capital firm “Andreessen Horowitz” talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about how these two trends are likely to affect the economy, urban design, and almost every aspect of how people live. “Just as electric isn’t about removing the gas tank, autonomy isn’t actually about the car driving itself. It’s about you getting rid of the person. And it’s about changing everything else about that vehicle. And everything about the city around it. In much the same way that removing the horse wasn’t just about removing the [horse] – it changed everything else about vehicles and everything else about it.”

EconTalk

 

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Power of Dead People

Our lives are controlled by invisible hands from the grave. Trillions of dollars of the US economy are devoted to executing the wishes of people who died long ago, rather than satisfying the needs, preferences, and values of those living now. Philosopher Barry Lam follows the story of the Hershey fortune to show how a 19th century industrialist constructed the oddest business structure to ensure that his idiosyncratic wishes would be fulfilled hundreds of years after his death. The story raises questions about why we give the dead so much power over our lives, and what this says about how we find meaning in our own lives given foreknowledge of our mortality.

Hi-Phi Nation

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Empathetic Design

Empathy leads us to make flawed moral decisions, claims Yale psychologist Paul Bloom. But others think that empathy is a valuable tool. In this episode, two experts — Chuck Pezeshski and Indi Young — argue for the role of empathy in solving engineering problems, in thinking through complex systems, and designing highly desirable products.

To the Best of Our Knowledge

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The Most Mysterious Air Disasters

The most puzzling airplane crashes, plausible explanations, and corners cut by airline companies. All revealed by a crash investigator, journalist and documentary producer Christine Negroni . Christine has more than fifteen years’ experience participating in the international effort to create safer skies. She is the author of “The Crash Detectives: Investigating the World’s Most Mysterious Air Disasters”.

Little Atoms

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“The Complacent Class” with Katherine Mangu-Ward

Today, Americans are working harder than ever to avoid change. In this episode, Editor-in-chief of “Reason” Katherine Mangu-Ward grill Tyler Cowen about “The Complacent Class”, a follow-up to his previous book “The Great Stagnation”. Tyler has found out that Americans are moving less, starting fewer businesses, marrying people more like themselves, and relying as much as they can on algorithms that wall them off from anything that might be too new or different. As a result, we could see a version of America that is more segregated, more unequal, and no longer the leader of tomorrow’s greatest achievements.
According to Malcolm Gladwell, “His brilliant new book…has been on my nightstand after I devoured it in one sitting. I am at round-the-clock Cowen saturation right now.”

Conversations with Tyler

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Mess Makes You More Creative and Resilient

Be messy – it’s good for you. Whether in business or in the classroom, messiness and randomness lie at the core of how we innovate and how we connect with each other – in short, how we succeed. Economist Tim Harford, author of “Messy: How to be Creative and Resilient in a Tidy-Minded World”, explains how disarray and the unexpected change of plans can improve creativity… and why “silly us” resist it so much.

Big Ideas – ABC Radio

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Hacking the Iphone for Fun, Profit, and Maybe Espionage

The story of one man who stumbled on a flaw in Apple’s operating system, a way to hack the phone.
Every time there is a big new release of some software, an operating system or a new browser, hackers get to work. There’s money to be made. But it’s not just hackers looking for these glitches. Tips on how to break into phones, computers, and Internet-connected televisions helps C.I.A. too.

Planet Money

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