Posts in: Link Posts

German climate law is partly unconstitutional, top court rules:

Germany will have to improve its emissions targets from 2031 following a complaint by a coalition of climate activists, including Fridays for Future.

I can’t overstate how important this ruling is. Young climate activists sued against the law, basically saying “Stop offloading this shit on us”, and our supreme court agreed. So great.

How small satellites are radically remaking space exploration is a nice quick overview about the ongoing small-sat and small-rocket space industry revolution. 🚀

Now, two emerging technologies may propel NASA and the rest of the world into an era of faster, low-cost exploration. Instead of spending a decade or longer planning and developing a mission, then spending hundreds of millions (to billions!) of dollars bringing it off, perhaps we can fly a mission within a couple of years for a few tens of millions of dollars. This would lead to more exploration and also democratize access to the Solar System.

In recent years, a new generation of companies is developing new rockets for small satellites that cost roughly $10 million for a launch. […] The concept of interplanetary small satellite missions also spurred interest in the emerging new space industry.

Cancel Culture and the Problem of Woke Capitalism - The Atlantic:

If you care about progressive causes, then woke capitalism is not your friend. It is actively impeding the cause, siphoning off energy, and deluding us into thinking that change is happening faster and deeper than it really is. When people talk about the “excesses of the left”—a phenomenon that blights the electoral prospects of progressive parties by alienating swing voters—in many cases they’re talking about the jumpy overreactions of corporations that aren’t left-wing at all.

Good article, not a condemnation of activism but a call for actual change, and a better direction for all our energy.

Two sick children and a $1.5 million bill: One family’s race for a gene therapy cure

Both exciting and depressing AF. But to be honest, these days that rings true for many a topic, doesn’t it?

One day, gene therapy may help with the rarest of diseases. Some parents aren’t waiting. […]

I asked [neurologist Christopher Janson] if he thought it was fair that the Landsmans’ kids could end up getting treated while some other family without a surprise GoFundMe success would not be. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of things in society that are not fair,” he said. “There are parents who want to see me in my neurology clinic and can’t because they don’t have insurance. We have a problem in society.”

Yes, we absolutely do. It’s not as prevalent here in Germany as it is in the US, but still.

Actors are digitally preserving themselves to continue their careers beyond the grave

Being a dead actor/singer doesn’t mean anymore you have to stop working:

Some actors and movie studios are buckling down and preparing for an inevitable future when using scanning technology to preserve 3-D digital replicas of performers is routine. Just because your star is inconveniently dead doesn’t mean your generation-spanning blockbuster franchise can’t continue to rake in the dough. Get the tech right and you can cash in on superstars and iconic characters forever.

I’ll be honest: I’ve no idea how to feel about this. I can see the reasoning behind scanning and preserving actors for legitimate purposes1 but I won’t be surprised when (not if) some of those scans are leaked to seedy underground porn producers. If you think Rule 34 is bad now, you just wait.

  1. For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that, for example, creating a new hologram tour of late singer Amy Winehouse (done by her management) is a legitimate purpose. [return]

The Pentagon’s Push to Program Soldiers’ Brains

Within decades, neurotechnology could cause social disruption on a scale that would make smartphones and the internet look like gentle ripples on the pond of history.

Most unsettling, neurotechnology confounds age-old answers to this question: What is a human being?

A lengthy read giving a short history of DARPA with a focus on their (published) neurotechnology research and its challenges. While I don’t think the agency’s goals are quite as benign as it makes them out to be, I find the entire field utterly fascinating and am well in favor of what they are trying to accomplish.

Why You’re Probably Getting a Microchip Implant Someday

Interesting article in the The Atlantic about subdermal microchips, discussing a few health-focussed implants and related research.

I got myself chipped a few years back because my phone didn’t have a fingerprint reader but NFC capabilities. I used the chip in my hand to unlock the phone all the time for a year or so.

These days, my RFID tag carries some emergency data but nothing else (name, birthdate, blood type, city of residence). I wish it could do more, tho.

The Moon Is Open for Business

There’s a commercial soft landing planned for early 2019! 🌖

The Moon Is Open for Business: Commercial companies are proposing lunar missions at a pace the world hasn’t seen since the Apollo program.