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Should space benefit “all of humankind”, as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated?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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Making it Work: Affordable Medical Equipment in India

In India around one fifth of the population still live below the poverty line, according to the most recent World Bank estimates. Businesses selling to this market need to keep prices low. In the famous tech city of Bengaluru, south India, we visit a veterinary clinic for pets, the unlikely home of a surprising young start-up, which is set to revolutionise one of the most common medical devices on the planet – the stethoscope. In a village in Mathura, about three hours drive from New Delhi we take a look at the installation of a new affordable solution to providing solar energy. We then meet a young entrepreneur in Kenya who is looking at the success of firms like Amazon and has developed his own similar internet based delivery system for Kenya’s low-income customers.

The Compass – BBC World Service

 

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How to Beat Distraction and Stay Focused

Today we discuss what goes on in our brains when we use our digital devices, why they distract us, and what we can do about it. Our guest walks us through the cognitive functions we use to focus our attention and to avoid distraction. He then explains why these evolved cognitive functions are mismatched to today’s constantly buzzing digital devices, using a theory of optimal food foraging borrowed from biology. We then discuss action steps grounded in science on how you can beat distraction and stay more focused throughout the day. We end our conversation talking about “prescription” video games that can be used to help elderly patients and individuals with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The Art of Manliness

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The AI revolution

What impact will Artificial Intelligence have on our lives and what actions should be undertaken in order to be ready for it? Our daily lives are encompassed by AI. Decisions about employment, loans, credit cards and even what we read and listen to are now made by computers. We discuss the implications of this revolutionary technology.

The Briefing Room

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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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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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Talking Bodies

Modern medicine, personal health tracking, and why health journalism is broken. Jody Avirgan talks to James Hamblin, the doctor-turned-journalist and a seriously entertaining authority in the field of health. Hamblin, the author of “If Our Bodies Could Talk: A Guide to Operating and Maintaining a Human Body”, draws from his own medical training as well from hundreds of interviews with distinguished scientists and medical practitioners.
Illustration by Ski

What’s The Point | 2nd February 2017

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The Ethical Dilemma of Designer Babies

Creating genetically modified people is no longer a science fiction fantasy; it’s a likely future scenario. Biologist Paul Knoepfler estimates that within fifteen years, scientists could use the gene editing technology CRISPR to make certain “upgrades” to human embryos — from altering physical appearances to eliminating the risk of auto-immune diseases. In this thought-provoking talk, Knoepfler readies us for the coming designer baby revolution and its very personal, and unforeseeable, consequences.

TEDTalks | 23rd January 2017

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The Bookie, the Phone Booth, and the FBI

The Fourth Amendment doesn’t mention privacy once. But those 54 little words, written more than 200 years ago, are a crucial battleground in today’s fight over digital rights in the United States. That one sentence is why the government can’t listen to phone calls without a warrant. And it’s why they don’t need one to find out who the citizens of the United States are calling.

But now, we share our deepest thoughts with Google, through what we search for and what we email. And we share our most intimate conversations with Alexa, when we talk in its vicinity. So how does the Fourth Amendment apply when we’re surrounded by technology the Founding Fathers could never dream of?

Stories of bookies on the Sunset Strip, microphones taped to phone booths, and a 1975 Monte Carlo. And where the Fourth Amendment needs to go.

With Laura Donohue, director of Georgetown’s Center on Privacy and Technology. Supreme Court audio from the wonderful Oyez.org, under a Creative Commons license.

Note to Self | 18th January 2017

 

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Daniel Dennett about the Magic of Consciousness

The how’s and why’s of consciousness, from an evolutionary and neurological standpoint, and through the lenses of computer science and human culture. Beyerstein and Dennett catch up to discuss Dennett’s newest book, “From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds”. It’s a fresh look at Dennett’s earlier work on the subject of consciousness, taken in new directions as he seeks a “bottom-up view of creation.”

Daniel C. Dennett is best known in cognitive science for his multiple drafts (or “fame in the brain”) model of human consciousness, and to the secular community for his 2006 book “Breaking the Spell”. Author and co-author of two-dozen books, he’s the Austin B. Fletcher Professor of Philosophy, and Co-Director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University, where he taught our very own Point of Inquiry host Lindsay Beyerstein.

Point of Inquiry | 17 January 2017

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