For as long as we’ve existed, humans have looked up at the stars — and wondered. What is up there? Who is out there?
Now, to that list of questions we can add: And CAN I HAVE IT?
The United States has already shown its penchant for claiming ownership of space-based things. There are not one, not two, but six U.S. flags on the moon, in case any of you other nations start getting ideas. (Never mind that the flags have all faded to a stateless white by now.)
So it only makes sense that American lawmakers would seek to guarantee property rights for U.S. space corporations. Under the SPACE Act, which just passed the House, businesses that do asteroid mining will be able to keep whatever they dig up:
“Any asteroid resources obtained in outer space are the property of the entity that obtained such resources, which shall be entitled to all property rights thereto, consistent with applicable provisions of Federal law.”
This is how we know commercial space exploration is serious. The opportunity here is so vast that businesses are demanding federal protections for huge, floating objects they haven’t even surveyed yet.
But it’s actually important that we’re talking about this now, because we don’t want to wind up in a situation where multiple companies are fighting for the same patch of rock without having a way to resolve it. There are two key questions at stake: Who should regulate commercial space activity? And what rules should apply?
2. To Brag or To Humblebrag, that is the question
Also, best to try and not be a jackass.
Humblebragging allows people to highlight positive aspects of their lives while attempting to appear modest by masking the “good news” as a complaint. On social media, people Tweet or update their Facebook statuses with their achievements and good fortune in the guise of complaints to gain validation in the form of “likes,” comments, and so on.
But humblebragging isn’t confined to social media. Consider one of the most common job interview questions, “What’s your greatest weakness?” Think about the last time you asked this question or had to answer it. I bet that, depending on your role, you either heard or crafted an artful response that reframed a flaw as something positive: “I’m such a perfectionist that I drive myself crazy” or “I tend to work too hard, which can take a toll on my personal life.”
Whether on social media, in interviews, or in any other type of social or professional interaction, people humblebrag to try to make a positive impression on others without appearing vain. But, as it turns out, humblebragging frequently fails. Research I conducted in collaboration with my Harvard Business School colleagues Ovul Sezer and Mike Norton shows that observers find the strategy insincere. As a result, humblebraggers are rated less likeable than those who straightforwardly brag — or even those who simply complain.
These findings suggest that in job interviews, showing we are self-aware and working on improving our performance may be a more effective strategy than humblebragging. After all, authentic people who are willing to show vulnerability are likely to be the type of candidates interviewers most want to hire.
Even outside of interview contexts, humblebragging does not seem to produce the positive impressions we all hope to deliver when we use this self-promotion strategy. In follow-up studies we found that people dislike humblebraggers more than braggers and even more than complainers. And the costs of humblebragging extend beyond interpersonal evaluations to affect behavior, causing people to penalize humblebraggers financially and be less likely to help them out.
What these results seem to suggest is that when deciding whether to (honestly) brag or (deceptively) humblebrag, would-be self-promoters should choose the former — and at least reap the rewards of seeming sincere.
3. Long Range Iris Scanning Is Here.
What could possibly go wrong…
As with fingerprints, an individual’s iris is so distinctive as to be unique.
“Fingerprints, they require you to touch something. Iris, we can capture it at a distance, so we’re making the whole user experience much less intrusive, much more comfortable,” Savvides told me. Unlike other scanners, which required someone to step up to a machine, his scanner can capture someone’s iris and face as they walk by.
“There’s no X-marks-the-spot. There’s no place you have to stand. Anywhere between six and 12 meters, it will find you, it will zoom in and capture both irises and full face,” he said.
Carnegie Mellon describes a whole host of functions for the scanner beyond just police use. It could replace government IDs at the airport and elsewhere. Like other types of biometrics, it could replace a laptop’s login system.
As a sector, biometrics are undoubtedly important. Many security experts believe that passwords—and the security regime that accompanies them—are fundamentally broken. Savvides, for his part, sees biometrics as one more method of human-computer interaction.
Yet there’s something threatening about long-range iris scanning. Identification to a degree comparable to finger prints, at a distance, is not something our social habits and political institutions are wired for.
4. 70 Maps That Explain America
A geographical and cultural history lesson told through maps.
The United States of America is many things. It is the world’s most powerful country, and one of the largest. It has a history of political revolution and social progress, as well as a legacy of slavery and genocide. In one sense, mapping the United States should be a simple matter of displaying borders and geography. But America is a complex nation with a long and fascinating history that could never be captured in a single frame. Here’s a glance at America’s past and present, in 70 maps.
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.” -Henry Ford
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I hope that you’ll read these articles if they catch your eye and that you’ll learn as much as I did. Please email me questions, feedback or raise issues for discussion. Better yet, if you know of something on a related topic, or of interest, please pass it along. And as always, if one of these links comes to mean something to you, recommend it to someone else.