How to keep peace in outer space? Create commercial development.
“To promote the development of a commercial asteroid resources industry for outer space in the United States and to increase the exploration and utilization of asteroid resources in outer space.”
For most of human history, we’ve had a grand frontier on the horizon, ready to be explored, settled and conquered if need be. We are natural-born explorers. From one perspective, the entirety of human civilization has been a journey westward. From the cradle of civilization in Mesopotamia, in China and the Indus Valley where agricultural practices took root, onwards to Egyptian society and beyond to where Phoenicians, inspired by hieroglyphics, set the alphabet in stone, later to be used by Greek and Roman societies, the birthplaces of new empires, art and the foundation of modern Western societies.
Spinning westward like some ephemeral world destiny, technological advances from Gutenberg's printing press to the microchip have taken us full circle around the globe.
Where do we have left to go, but up? Space is the premier frontier—a great challenge for our globalized world.
Our history, laden with nation-states waging threats of total war, now needs to give way to market-based competition and the collaboration and cooperation of international companies and countries alike. As we expand to the stars in the wild upness of space, we can strive for peace by creating stable environments for new space-markets to flourish. This next great human expedition in space doesn’t have to call for war or increased militarization. The grand expanse of space has a lot to offer for us if we approach it with humility and the right intentions. Here’s how we can keep space a peaceful place.
Market-based solutions for peace in outer space
Our intentions to conquer space have changed over the years. What was once a race between two superpowers is now a competition between international companies. Nowadays it’s even evolved into partnerships between nation-states and private companies. Space isn’t just big, it’s big business.
Governments and private entities have their own unique parts to play in space exploration and commercialization. Take for example the prospect of asteroid mining. There are potentially trillions of dollars floating around in space in the form of precious metals. Rather than limit or curb space innovation, the United States Congress in 2014 passed the Asteroid Act. In the bill’s own words:
“To promote the development of a commercial asteroid resources industry for outer space in the United States and to increase the exploration and utilization of asteroid resources in outer space.”
Any company that can successfully mine an asteroid will be able to claim its resources as private property. Entering into space is a lot easier than it once was. Overblown bureaucratic obstacles are coming down and space is more accessible for private companies. Bills like the Asteroid Act might be indicative of a larger trend: that governments can find better ways to utilize their space programs rather than for increased militarization and geopolitical maneuvering that harkens back to the Cold War. Instead, nation-states might be able to provide a fair regulatory framework for private enterprise and help foster their growth, leaving agencies like NASA to focus on long-scale research endeavors. There are just certain things that private industry does better. Take reusable rockets. “We’re starting to see advances made by private entities that are more significant than any advances in the last three years that were made by the government," Chris Lewicki, CEO and President of Planetary Resources—a future hopeful asteroid mining company—tells Futurism. "The government was never able to [build reusable rockets], but now, two private companies within the space of the same year have done that.”
Private industry needs a stable environment in order to flourish and grow. In most cases, a natural side effect of this is peace. The last thing these companies want to contend with in the harsh frontier of space is militarization. Commercial interests are better suited to space for this very reason.
Frontrunners of the new frontier
Two of the big hitters in this new space age are Blue Origin and SpaceX, companies by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In 2015, both of their companies were the first to ever successfully land a vertical rocket. Private companies aren’t chained to government processes and oversights. They can work faster and more efficiently. There’s a lot of opportunity for partnership between the two sectors. For example, NASA contracting SpaceX to deliver cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and future human transport to be contracted by Boeing.
It can’t be stressed enough how important peaceful partnerships are for the future of space. So, what about relations between other nations? How does that stack up on the world stage?
A precedent for peace in space
Sometimes it feels like the Cold War never ended. Surprisingly, one of the greatest areas of U.S.-Russian cooperation has been in space. For nearly 20 years, the ISS has been a shining jewel of human cooperation between the two countries. Two space veterans, American Scott Kelly and Russian Mikhail Kornienko, both lived in space for an entire year together. Throughout the years the many American astronauts and Russian cosmonauts had a lot to say about their host country's political struggles and their relations with each other.
Cosmonaut Alexander Samokutyaev on the subject of his life aboard the ISS once said: “We do our work that we love and we respect each other... Whatever the politicians want to get up to, that is their business.”
It’s different out in space; NASA analysts know that the U.S. and Russia need one another. Since the Space Shuttle flights stopped ferrying astronauts to the ISS, the U.S. has been dependent on Soyuz Russian rockets, while the entirety of the space station depends on NASA communication systems.
Russian space expert Vadim Lukashevich says, "Even though we are butting heads on Earth, up on the ISS we can't work without them and they can't work without us... It's impossible to break up this cooperation."
The Outer Space treaty
A patchwork of laws determines how space commerce and national interests function. The seminal law, signed and ratified by the United States and many other nations, is the Outer Space Treaty. Created back in 1967, it laid the groundwork for the future of how we’d interact and conduct ourselves in space.
Henry Hertzfeld, research professor at George Washington University’s Space Policy Institute, said of the treaty: “There's an obligation to act safely, that space should only be used for peaceful purposes, nobody can launch any weapons of mass destruction, and freedom of access for all."
While this treaty will serve as a great starting point, it is not the final arbiter of how to conduct ourselves in space. We’re going to have to figure that out for ourselves. There are a few steps we can take to get things in motion for our future space explorers.
The first step: Unified global projects
Right now there is a real problem surrounding the globe: space debris. Hundreds of thousands of objects have gathered in our skies. This multitude of debris can affect satellite trajectories, future space flights and orbital stations.
How is the international community dealing with this encroaching global problem? Currently, efforts are strained. In order to avoid collisions with this debris, we’d need a central database tracking where all this detritus is orbiting. That kind of database is difficult to compile because of the disparate nature of tracking that each nation implements. For example, the United States would never reveal if one of their unknown spy satellites was destroyed and created new debris. Basically, each country has their own secrets in the sky they don't want to reveal as well as different methods of tracking their space junk. So that's one problem that we have to overcome to create the central database—international space transparency!
However, some national space programs and private companies are working together to develop advanced tracking systems for the hundreds of thousands of pieces of space debris. One such effort is the Space Fence program, developed by Lockheed Martin for the U.S. government, which aims to track a catalog of 200,000 space objects. The need for a proto-space traffic control system is becoming ever more crucial in a developing space environment.
A governing body for space
Our current legal frameworks are insufficient to regulate and deal with a space that includes government and private companies alike. The absence of a governing body is something that will need to be remedied one day.
As outer space is the last bastion of global cooperation, we must work to ensure that it stays apolitical and with humanity's best interests at heart. The international community can take steps to mitigate this one problem and set the stage for further coordination.
In the future, we can avoid taking our terrestrial-bound feuds to the stars. Through encouraging peaceful competitive markets and by shifting governmental forces to roles of regulation and research, we just might be able to create a new frontier of peace and prosperity.
- Charles Darwin speculated that wingless insects thrived on windy islands so they wouldn't be blown off the land.
- While the reasoning was slightly faulty, researchers have now proved Darwin's 165-year-old "wind hypothesis."
- This finding is yet another example of how environments shape the animals that inhabit them.
Photo: Christian / Adobe Stock<p>Monash researchers looked at three decades of data on various insect species living in Antarctica and 28 Southern Ocean islands—including Svalbard, Jan Mayen, Ellef Ringnes, Bathurst, and St. Matthew—and discovered a trend: wind (as well as low air pressure and freezing temperatures) made flight nearly impossible to resident insects. They simply didn't have the energetic resources needed to take to the sky. Better to crawl around and scavenge.</p><p>Darwin wasn't completely right. He thought the evolutionary adaptations were due purely to wind throwing insects off the island. But nutrition matters too. Flight consumes a ton of energy. The windier it is, the harder insects have to work. Battling a gale requires an inordinate amount of calories. As the team writes, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Strong winds can also inhibit normal insect flight activity, thereby increasing the energetic costs of flying or maintaining flight structures. This energy trade-off is more complex than Darwin's single-step displacement mechanism because it requires genetic linkage between traits associated with flight ability, flight propensity, and fecundity or survival." </p><p>Still, you have to hand it to the man. During a time when most humans assumed animals were all the result of metaphysical tinkering, Darwin gazed out into nature and connected the dots. His mind has inspired over a century-and-a-half of scientific progress as we continue to build on—and, as this study shows, prove—his theories. </p><p>Darwin knew that every animal is the product of its environment, and therefore must respect both its boons and its boundaries. Talk about a lesson we need today. Environments are known to become very hostile to foreign invaders when pushed too hard. Right now, we're courting disaster. Hopefully, we won't wait for evolution to ground our ambitions. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a> and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Facebook</a>. His most recent book is</em> "<em><a href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08KRVMP2M?pf_rd_r=MDJW43337675SZ0X00FH&pf_rd_p=edaba0ee-c2fe-4124-9f5d-b31d6b1bfbee" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy</a>."</em></p>
Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
- The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
- The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
A three-dimensional model of the feeding behavior of Bobbit worms and the proposed formation of Pennichnus formosae.
Credit: Scientific Reports
Beware the Bobbit Worm!<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="1f9918e77851242c91382369581d3aac"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/_As1pHhyDHY?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims.
- SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. They were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018.
- The implementation of this law in America has left an international impact, as websites attempt to protect themselves from liability by closing down the sections of their sites that sex workers use to arrange safe meetings with clientele.
- While supporters of this bill have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.
What is FOSTA-SESTA?<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="723125b44601d565a7c671c7523b6452"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WBaqDjPCH8k?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>SESTA (Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act) were signed into law by former President Trump in 2018. There was some argument that this law may be unconstitutional as it could potentially violate the <a href="https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-1/" target="_blank">first amendment</a>. A criminal defense lawyer explains this law in-depth in <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RoWx2hYg5uo&t=38s" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">this video</a>. </p><p><strong>What did FOSTA-SESTA aim to accomplish?</strong></p><p>The idea behind the law was simple: make it more difficult for online sex traffickers to find victims. FOSTA-SESTA started as two separate bills that were both created with a singular goal: curb online sex trafficking. Targeting websites like Backpage and Craigslist, where sex workers would often arrange meetings with their clientele, FOSTA-SESTA aimed to stop the illegal sex-trafficking activity being conducted online. While the aim of FOSTA-SESTA was to keep people safer, these laws have garnered international speculation and have become quite controversial. </p><p><a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180321006214/en/National-Anti-Trafficking-Coalition-Celebrates-Survivors-Senate-Passes" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to BusinessWire</a>, many people are in support of this bill, including the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and World Without Exploitation (WorldWE). </p><p>"With the growth of the Internet, human trafficking that once happened mainly on street corners has largely shifted online. According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, 73 percent of the 10,000 child sex trafficking reports it receives from the public each year involve ads on the website Backpage.com."</p><p>As soon as this bill was <a href="https://www.pivotlegal.org/sesta_fosta_censoring_sex_workers_from_websites_sets_a_dangerous_precedent" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">signed into law</a>, websites where sex workers often vetted and arranged meetings with their clients could now be held liable for the actions of the millions of people that used their sites. This meant websites could be prosecuted if they engaged in "the promotion or facilitation of prostitution" or "facilitate traffickers in advertising the sale of unlawful sex acts with sex trafficking victims." </p><p><strong>The bill's effects were felt around the world — from Canadians being unhappy with the impact of this American bill to U.K. politicians considering the implementation of similar laws in the future.</strong> </p><p>Heather Jarvis, the program coordinator of the Safe Harbour Outreach Project (SHOP), which supports sex workers in the St. John's area, <a href="https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/heather-jarvis-website-shutdown-1.4667018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">explained to CBC in an interview</a> that the American bill is impacting everyone, everywhere: "When laws impact the internet — the internet is often borderless — it often expands across different countries. So although these are laws in the United States, what we've seen is they've been shutting down websites in Canada and other countries as well."</p><p>Jarvis suggests in her interview that instead of doing what they aimed to do with the bill and improving the safety of victims of sex trafficking or sexual exploitation, the website shutdowns are actually making sex workers less safe. </p><p>While <a href="https://gizmodo.com/the-uk-wants-its-own-version-of-fosta-sesta-that-could-1827420794" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">one U.K. publication</a> refers to FOSTA-SESTA as "well-intentioned but ultimately deeply-flawed laws," it also mentions that politicians in the United Kingdom are hoping to pursue similar laws in the near future. </p>
Has FOSTA-SESTA done more harm than good?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTUxMzY5Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY2ODUyNDc4OX0.dSEEzcflJJUTnUCFmuwmPAIA0f754eW7rN8x6L7fcCc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=-68%2C595%2C-68%2C595&height=700" id="69d99" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="734759fa254b5a33777536e0b4d7b511" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="sex worker looking online for a job" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
Is this really going to help, or is this bill simply pushing sex work and sex-related content further into the dark?
Credit: Евгений Вершинин on Adobe Stock<p>While <a href="https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20180321006214/en/National-Anti-Trafficking-Coalition-Celebrates-Survivors-Senate-Passes" target="_blank">supporters of this bill</a> have framed FOSTA-SESTA as a vital tool that could prevent sex trafficking and allow sex trafficking survivors to sue those websites for facilitating their victimization, many other people are strictly against the bill and hope it will be reversed.</p><p><strong>One of the biggest problems many people have with this bill is that it forces sex workers into an even more dangerous situation, which is quite the opposite of what the bill had intended to do.</strong> </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-anti-trafficking-activists-cheer-but-sex-workers-bemoan-shutdown-of/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Globe and Mail</a>, there has been an upswing in pimps sending sex workers messages that promise work - which puts sex workers on the losing end of a skewed power-dynamic, when before they could attempt to safely arrange their own meetings online. </p><p><strong>How dangerous was online sex work before FOSTA-SESTA? </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.beyond-the-gaze.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/BtGbriefingsummaryoverview.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">The University of Leicester Department of Criminology</a> conducted an online survey that focused on the relative safety of internet-based sex work compared with outdoor sex work. According to the results, 91.6 percent of participants had not experienced a burglary in the past 5 years, 84.4 percent had not experienced physical assault in the same period, and only 5 percent had experienced physical assault in the last 12 months. </p><p><a href="https://www.pivotlegal.org/sesta_fosta_censoring_sex_workers_from_websites_sets_a_dangerous_precedent" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">PivotLegal</a> expresses concerns about this: "It is resoundingly clear, both from personal testimony and data, that attacking online sex work is an assault on the health and safety of people in the real world. In a darkly ironic twist, SESTA/FOSTA, legislation aimed at protecting victims of and preventing human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation, will do the exact opposite."</p><p><strong>Websites are also being hypervigilant (and censoring more content than needed) because they can't possibly police every single user's activity on their platform.</strong> </p><p>Passing this bill meant any website (not just the ones that are commonly used by sex traffickers) could be held liable for their user's posts. Naturally, this saw a general "tightening of the belt" when it came to what was allowed on various platforms. In late 2018, shortly after the FOSTA-SESTA bill was passed, companies like Facebook slowly began to alter their terms and conditions to protect themselves. </p><p>Facebook notably added sections that express prohibited certain sexual content and messages:</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Content that includes an implicit invitation for sexual intercourse, which can be described as naming a sexual act and other suggestive elements including (but not limited to):</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– vague suggestive statements such as: 'looking forward to an enjoyable evening'</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– sexual use of language […]</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– content (self-made, digital or existing) that possibly portrays explicit sexual acts or a suggestively positioned person/suggestively positioned persons."<br><br> </em></p><p>Additionally, sections like this were also added, prohibiting things that could allude to sexual activity: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>"Content in which other acts committed by adults are requested or offered, such as:</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– commercial pornography</em></p><p style="margin-left: 20px;"><em>– partners that share fetishes or sexual interests"</em></p><p>Facebook wasn't the only website to crack down on their policies — the Craigslist classifieds section being removed and Reddit banned quite a large number of sex-worker related subreddits. </p><p><strong>Is FOSTA-SESTA really helpful?</strong> </p><p>This is the question many people are facing with the FOSTA-SESTA acts being passed just a few years ago. Is this really going to help, or is this bill simply pushing sex work and sex-related content further into the dark? Opinions seem to be split down the middle on this — what do you think?</p>
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