Crowdsourcing Human Rights Activism

Movements, is a website that seeks to crowdsource human rights activism over the whole world, by connecting local activists with an international body of volunteers who can aid them with their specific skills. US senators Marco Rubio and Mark Kirk for instance offered to bring untold right violations to the attention of the US senate.

It seems what is most needed are people with (social) media connections who are willing to bring stories of human right violations to their audience, and people who can help built webpages.

This is great initiative in my opinion that shows the way technology can empower oppressed individuals, and connect the peoples of the world. Various companies have contributed to built their website, and ensure the privacy of the users.

Have a look if you, or someone you know, can directly help someone through Movements.org!

For more info, here is an interview by Sam Harris with the director of the institute that is behind this website: David Keyes, of Advancing Human Rights.

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The Space Race and Big Expectations (New & Old Space, part 1)

New Space is a term that, loosely, describes new trends in the space industry.

Mostly, it is NOT Old Space.

Old Space is the name for the way things have been done in the space industry, since its inception, or shortly since: government driven innovation and government funding. Old Space got going during the Space Race.

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy declared that the United States would put a man on the moon. Four years earlier the USSR already had launched the Sputnik, the first ‘artificial satellite’ – a man-made object that orbits a bigger object in space. And in 1961, the USSR also put the first human being in space – Yuri Gagarin.The US was behind, and feared it would loose the space race, a high-stakes competition during the Cold War.

See here an excerpt from JFK’s inspiring speech:

However, once the US put its brightest minds, including the great Wernher von Braun, on it, and added quite a bit of money, the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration achieved its goal to land humans on the moon in 1969, only eight years after the speech of JFK.

On July 20th of that year Neil Amstrong, and Buzz Aldrin, stepped on the moon, planted the Star Spangled Banner on its surface, a feat not repeated by any other nation up to the present. (Unfortunately JFK was no longer alive during the culmination of the events he put in motion, because of an horrible assassination.)

A great video series about this whole episode in history is From the Earth to the Moon, narrated by Tom Hanks.

During this era, expectations went through the Earth’s atmosphere and beyond. It was a time in which Americans, and also other peoples, experienced optimism about what the future of mankind could bring, despite the threat of nuclear war that was always on the back of their minds.

As the years progressed it became more and more apparent that mankind would not venture onwards to other celestial bodies quite as fast.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Distrust of Technology Puts a Break on Innovation

Yesterday evening my first article on a professional opinion platform was published. The website is called The Post Online. Right now it has 64 shares on facebook, for this website the second place of the day. The first place was an article about the political party VVD (the party of the prime minister) making a statement about working together with some of the dictators in the Middle-East, rather than taking them down, and letting IS take control in the power vacuum – for which the party got quite some interest, and flak.

Anyways, my article introduces the topic by referencing a popular futurist television program in the Netherlands, that unfortunately is also quite distrustful of all the interesting developments that are going on, particularly if entrepreneurs are involved…

I note that this is in fact the general mindset amongst opinion makers and politicians in my country. And move on to ponder where this attitude comes from. To underline why I find this strange, I briefly state the tremendous progress that we have been able to enjoy for the last 200, and especially the last 70 years (post-WW2).

My claim is that the pessimism and distrust is due to the Precautionary Principle and that it leads to governmental regulations that suppress innovation because of fears for changes to the status-quo. These interventions, however, take a toll, that remains largely unseen – the lost potential of progress – which makes our living quality suboptimal, and evens costs lives of people in emergency situations, mostly diseases.

For this reason, I propose the Opportunity Principle, which is about allowing innovators and interested people to voluntarily test new methods of doing things.

My final remark is that the Opportunity Principle will ensure a better and more interesting future.

Read the whole article here! (In Dutch)

* I do not have the rights to the featured image, it is the image the website that published my article used to biffy up the interest.