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What is the Copyright Directive about?

MD Staff

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Digital technologies have transformed the way creative content is produced, distributed and accessed. The new Directive brings the copyright rules up to date with those changes and the way users access content online. For example, copyright exceptions exist in the areas of education, research and preservation of cultural heritage, but the digital uses were not anticipated by the current rules, which dated back to 2001. Therefore, this limited the possibilities for users (e.g. educational establishments, research institutions, libraries) to benefit from the potential of new technologies. In addition, the current EU copyright framework does not address the problems that emerged in the recent years in relation to the distribution of value in the online environment.

The Directive aims to create a comprehensive framework where copyrighted material, copyright holders, publishers, providers and users can all benefit from clearer rules, adapted to the digital era.

In order to achieve this goal, the Copyright Directive focuses on three main objectives:

Wider opportunities to use copyrighted material for education, research and preservation of cultural heritage: the exceptions allowing these uses have been modernised and adapted to the technological changes, to allow uses online and across borders.

More cross-border and online access for citizens to copyright-protected content: The Directive will contribute to increase the availability of audiovisual works on video-on-demand platforms, facilitate the digitalisation and dissemination of works that are out of commerce and will make sure that all users are able to circulate online with full legal certainty copies of works of art that are in the public domain.

Fairer rules for a copyright marketplace which will function better and will stimulate the creation of high-quality content: a new right for press publishers in relation to the use of their content by online service providers, a reinforced position of right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online exploitation of their content by user-uploaded content platforms and transparency rules related to the remuneration of authors and performers.

How will the new rules tackle the so-called ‘value gap’ between the creators and the online platforms?

One of the objectives of the Directive is to reinforce the position of creators and right holders to negotiate and be remunerated for the online use of their content by certain user-uploaded content platforms.

According to the text adopted today by the European Parliament, the platforms covered by the new rules are considered to be carrying out acts covered by copyright (i.e. performing acts of communication or making available to the public) for which they need to obtain an authorisation from the right holders concerned.

In situations where there are no licensing agreements concluded with right holders, the platforms will need to take certain actions if they want to avoid liability. In particular, they will need to (i) make best efforts to obtain an authorisation, (ii) make best efforts to ensure the unavailability of unauthorised content regarding which right holders have provided necessary and relevant information and (iii) act expeditiously to remove any unauthorised content following a notice received and make also their best efforts to prevent future uploads.

What will be the special regime for smaller enterprises foreseen in relation to the value gap?

New small platforms will benefit from a lighter regime in case there is no authorisation granted by right holders.

This concerns online service providers which have less than three years of existence in the Union and which have a turnover of less than 10 million euros and have less than 5 million monthly users. In order to avoid liability for unauthorised works, these new small companies will only have to prove that they have made their best efforts to obtain an authorisation and that they have acted expeditiously to remove the unauthorised works notified by right holders from their platform.

However, when the audience of these small companies is higher than 5 million monthly unique viewers, they will also have to prove that they have made their best efforts to ensure that works that have been notified by right holders do not reappear on the platform at a later stage. 

How does the Directive ensure a fair remuneration of authors and performers?

The Commission’s proposal aimed to increase transparency and balance in the contractual relations between content creators (authors and performers) and their producers and publishers.

The final Directive contains five different measures to strengthen the position of authors and performers:

A principle of appropriate and proportionate remuneration for authors and performers;

A transparency obligation to help authors and performers have access to more information about the exploitation of their works and performances;

A contract adjustment mechanism to allow authors and performers to obtain a fair share when the remuneration originally agreed becomes disproportionately low compared to the success of their work or performance;

A mechanism for the revocation of rights allowing creators to take back their rights when their works are not being exploited; and

A dispute resolution procedure for authors and performers. 

How will the new Directive support the press and quality journalism?

The new press publishers’ right will apply to online uses of press publications by information society services providers, such as news aggregators or media monitoring services. The objective of this right is to help the press publishing industry benefit from a fairer market place and to promote the best possible environment to develop innovative business models. The new right strengthens the bargaining position of press publishers when they negotiate the use of their content by online services.

Journalists, as authors of the contributions, i.e. the articles, in press publications, are essential in the press sector for providing reliable and quality journalistic content. By facilitating the online exploitation of press publications and making the enforcement of rights more efficient, the Directive will have a positive impact on them. And, in order to make sure that the journalists will benefit economically from the press publishers’ right, the Directive provides that they will receive an appropriate share of the revenues generated by it. By ensuring the sustainability of the press sector, the new right will foster plural, independent and high-quality media, which are essential for the freedom of expression and the right to information in our democratic society.

Does the new press publishers’ right also cover parts of press publications (so-called ‘snippets’)?

According to the text voted today by the European Parliament, the use of individual words and very short extracts of press publications does not fall within the scope of the new right. This means that information society service providers will remain free to use such parts of a press publication, without requiring an authorisation by press publishers. When assessing what very short extracts are, the impact on the effectiveness of the new right will be taken into account.

Does the new press publishers’ right affect individual users?

The Directive does not target individual users, but online uses of press publications by large online platforms and services, such as news aggregators. Internet users will continue to be able to share content on social media and link to websites and newspapers (acts of hyperlinking), just as it is the case today.

Moreover, the acts of hyperlinking and the re-use of single words or very short extracts by online platforms and services will be excluded from the scope of the new right granted to press publishers of press publications.

How do the new copyright rules protect users and their freedom online?

The Copyright Directive,voted today by the European Parliament, protects freedom of expression, a core value of the European Union. It sets strong safeguards for users, making clear that everywhere in Europe the use of existing works for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature as well as parody are explicitly allowed. This means that memes and similar parody creations can be used freely. The interests of the users are also preserved through effective mechanisms to swiftly contest any unjustified removal of their content by the platforms.

The new provisions on user-uploaded platforms will facilitate the conclusion of licences between commercial players and will contribute to improve the remuneration of creators.

To take one example: the new rules applicable to the use of press publications online will only apply to commercial services such as news aggregators, not to users. This means that internet users will continue to be able to share such content on social media and link to online newspapers.

Will the Directive impose uploading filters online?

No. The new rules do not impose uploading of filters nor do they require user-uploaded platforms to apply any specific technology to recognise illegal content. Under the new rules, certain online platforms will be required to conclude licensing agreements with right holders – for example, music or film producers – for the use of music, videos or other copyright protected content. If licences are not concluded, these platforms will have to make their best efforts to ensure that content not authorised by the right holders is not available on their website. The “best effort” obligation does not prescribe any specific means or technology.

Will the Copyright Directive prevent users from expressing themselves on in the same way as now? Will memes and GIFs be banned?

No. Uploading memes and other content generated by users for purposes of quotation, criticism, review, caricature, parody and pastiche (like GIFs or similar) will be specifically allowed. Users will be able to continue to upload such content online, but the new rules will bring clarity in this respect and will apply in all EU Member States.

Until now, copyright exceptions allowing these uses were only optional and Member States were free not to implement them. Under the Copyright Directive, this will no longer be the case: Member States will be obliged to allow these uses. This is a particularly important step for the freedom of expression online.

What are the other exceptions to copyright rules included in the Directive?

Exceptions or limitations to an exclusive right allow the beneficiary of the exception – an individual or an institution – to use protected content without the prior authorisation from right holders. Exceptions and limitations exist to facilitate the use of copyrighted content in certain circumstances and achieve specific public policy objectives such as education and research. The new Directive brings the EU framework on exceptions up to speed with digital uses in certain areas like education, research and cultural heritage. It introduces four mandatory exceptions for:

  • Text and data mining (TDM) for research purposes;
  • A general TDM exception for other purposes;
  • Teaching and educational purposes;
  • Preservation of cultural heritage.

The aim is to open up the possibilities that digital technologies offer to research, data analytics, education and heritage preservation, also taking into account online and cross-border uses of copyright-protected material. 

How will the directive facilitate the access to more content protected by copyright for education, culture, and research purposes?

The copyright exception for text and data mining will simplify the copyright clearance burden for universities and research organisation. It will allow them to use automated technologies to analyse large sets of data for scientific purposes in all legal certainty, including when they engage in public-private partnerships. This will support scientific endeavours and innovation, e.g. helping find cures for diseases or new ways to address climate change.

Complementary to this, an additional exception for text and data mining, for other users will cover text and data mining going beyond the area of research. This exception will contribute to the development of data analytics and artificial intelligence in the EU.

The new teaching exception for educational establishments and teachers covers digital cross-border uses of content protected by copyright for the purposes of illustration for teaching, including online. This will for example ensure that educational establishments can make available, in full legal certainty, teaching content to distance students in other Member States through their secure electronic environment, e.g. a university’s intranet or a school’s virtual learning environment.

The new preservation exception will allow libraries and other cultural heritage institutions (e.g. archives, museums) to make copies of the works in their collections, taking advantage of new digital preservation techniques. This new rule will make it possible to digitise the EU cultural heritage to preserve it. This will benefit the access to our culture heritage by the future generations. 

What is the new provision on public domain of works of art?

When a work of art is not protected by copyright anymore, for instance an old painting, it falls into the public domain. In that situation, everybody should be free to make, use and share copies of that work. This is not always the case today, as some Member States provide protection to copies of those works of art.

The new Directive will make sure that nobody can claim copyright protection on works in the field of the visual arts which have already fallen into the public domain. Thanks to this provision, all users will be able to disseminate online with full legal certainty copies of works of art in the public domain. For instance, anybody will be able to copy, use and share online photos of paintings, sculptures and works of art in the public domain when they find them in the internet and reuse them, including for commercial purposes or to upload them in Wikipedia. 

What is the provision of the Out-of-commerce works about?

The Directive introduces a new licensing mechanism for out-of-commerce works:books, films and other works that are still protected by copyright but cannot be found commercially anymore. This will make it much easier for cultural heritage institutions, like archives and museums, to obtain the necessary licences to disseminate to the public, notably online and across borders, the heritage held in their collections. This system makes it much easier for cultural heritage institutions to obtain licences negotiated with the collective management organisations representing the relevant right holders.

The new rules also provide for a new mandatory exception to copyright in case there is no representative collective management organisation representing the right holders in a certain field, and therefore cultural heritage institutions do not have a counterpart to negotiate a licence with. This so-called “fall-back” exception allows cultural heritage institutions to make the out-of-commerce works available on non-commercial websites. 

What is the new provision on collective licensing with an extended effect about?

The new provision on collective licensing with an extended effect enables Member States to allow collective management organisations to conclude licences covering rights of non-members, under certain conditions. This mechanism facilitates the clearance of rights in areas where otherwise individual licensing may be too burdensome for users. The provision includes a number of safeguards that protect the interests of right holders. 

What is the negotiation mechanism for video-on-demand platforms? How will the new rules work?

Despite the growing popularity of on-demand services (like Netflix, Amazon Video, Universcine, Filmin, Maxdome, ChiliTV) relatively few EU audiovisual works are available on video-on-demand (VoD) platforms. Less than half (47%) of EU films released in cinemas between 2005 and 2014 are available on at least one VoD service. Also, EU audiovisual works are often not available on platforms outside their home country; around half of EU films are available in only one country and 80% of EU films are available in three European countries or less on VoD services. This is partly explained by difficulties, including contractual ones, in acquiring the rights.

The Directive voted today by the European Parliament provides a new negotiation mechanism to support the availability, visibility and circulation of audiovisual works, in particular European. It will make the process of reaching contractual agreements smoother and unblock difficulties related to the licensing of the necessary rights to make available films and series on VoD platforms. More licenses means that more European audiovisual works will be available in VoD platforms and will have also a positive effect on the type and variety of works made available on VoD platforms.

What are the next steps?

The text adopted today by the European Parliament will now need to be formally endorsed by the Council of the European Union in the coming weeks. Once published on the Official Journal of the EU, Member States will have 24 months to transpose the new rules into their national legislation.

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Science & Technology

Light at the end of the tunnel: New technologies to fight the COVID-19 on transport

Anna Bazarova

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Disinfection robots, thermometer robots, smart tunnels, automatic passenger counting, powerful ultraviolet lamps and other examples of how new technologies reshaped public transport amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The coronavirus pandemic has led to significant changes in many areas of life in just a few months. As the coronavirus continued to spread around the world, governments in several countries took measures to restrict movement, and people themselves tried to avoid traveling on public transport. The demand for the services of transport operators has dropped drastically. So, according to the Moovit Public Transit Index, passenger traffic in public transport on April 15, 2020 decreased in Israel by 92.1%, in Rome – by 89.2%, in Madrid – by 88.1%, in New York-by 74.8% and has not yet recovered. City residents are afraid to use public transport actively again, and their fears are fully justified. High daily passenger traffic and high frequency of contact between passengers make public transport an ideal environment for the spread of infections. The problem of fighting the spread of infections while maintaining normal life activity is particularly acute for large cities, such as Moscow or Beijing, where daily passenger traffic reaches 19.4 and 12.3 million passengers respectively. The average density of passengers on a bus or in a traincar at the same time ranges from 2 to 5 people per square meter, while, according to World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, in order to comply with safety standards, passengers must maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters. Furthermore, virus particles can remain for a long time on public surfaces inside a bus or a traincar. Handrails on public transport are usually made of plastic, on which the coronavirus can remain up to 3 days, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. By touching them passengers increase the risk of contagion.

The key task for transport operators is to make the usage of public transport safe. To help them solve this problem came technology -all kinds of robots are widely used among innovations. With their help, it is possible to carry out disinfection effectively and safely without the involvement of staff. The Hong Kong Metro, also known as the Mass Transit Railway (MTR), together with the biotechnology company Avalon Biomedical Management Limited, has developed a disinfection robot that can disinfect even the most inaccessible places of traincars and stations. In addition to disinfection, robots can cope with more complex tasks. So, in Ningbo Lishe International Airport was tested a 5G-supporting robot-thermometer, which can measure temperature at a distance of 5 meters up to 10 people simultaneously and also identify those who are not wearing a face mask. Another innovation in many transport operators is the sanitary gate. According to Giulio Barbieri, one of the manufacturers, this is a “a tested, safe, and effective method to sanitize people and objects in just 5 seconds, killing up to 99% of any pathogenic microbes on the surfaces, including COVID-19”For example, the technology was tested in the Moscow and Dubai metros. In Moscow the clothes of the employees entering the depot were processed using a disinfection tunnel; at the same time, the territory was manually disinfected, so that the entire depot was safer for the staff.

The process of digitalization of ticket systems, which began long before the pandemic, also had a positive effect. Thanks to the competent actions of transport operators, the number of contactless payments in public transport around the world increased by 187% in the period from April to June, as evidenced by a report from Visa. Following WHO recommendations, many transport operators have made it mandatory to wear masks and maintain social distance on public transport. A number of digital technologies have been developed to comply with these rules. In the Beijing metro, compliance with a mask regime is controlled by cameras with a facial recognition system that can identify people. In addition, in the Panama Metro, observance of social distance is monitored by sensors which determine the degree of capacity of train cars. The technology called Mastria, which aggregates information from train weight sensors, ticket machines, signalling, management systems, CCTV and mobile networks for the Panama metro was developed by Alstom (a french manufacturer specializing in the production of infrastructure for rail transport) and installed almost a year ago. In just three months, thanks to artificial neural networks, it was possible to reduce average waiting times at stations by 12%. This development became particularly relevant during the pandemic. The Moscow metro is planning to introduce a similar technology. To maintain the social distance digital displays with colored indicators that reflect the level of capacity of subway cars will be installed. In the Moscow metro a new generation of traincars with an automatic air disinfection system built into climate control systems helped to reduce the risk of infection. It makes it possible to disinfect the air without disrupting the train schedule and attracting employees. The Moscow metro rolling stock consists of more than 50% of train cars with built-in UV lamps, and this percentage is constantly growing. After evaluating the effectiveness of using UV lamps to disinfect public transport, the transport operator MTA New York City Transit, together with Columbia University, launched a pilot project worth 1 million dollars on the use of disinfecting lamps. During the first phase of the project, 150 autonomous lamps were purchased and installed to decontaminate wagons, stations and buses in New York, during the second phase it is planned to install equipment in commuter rails. To carry out disinfection measures, the New York City Subway took unprecedented measures – the closure of the subway from 1 to 5 a.m. daily.

The use of robots, disinfection tunnels, digital technologies, ultraviolet lamps, and intensive work of staff – all this helped to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus in public transport and made a significant contribution to fighting the global problem. According to the coronavirus distribution model, developed by Imperial College London at the beginning of the pandemic, if no action had been taken by mid-March there would have been over 500,000 deaths from COVID in the UK and over 2.2 million in the USA. At the moment, in the middle of October, there are about 43,000 deaths in the UK and about 214,000 in the USA. Of course, these are high rates, but they could have been much higher if the necessary measures were not taken in time. Technological innovations already available today will continue to be used, which will make the stay of passengers on public transport more comfortable and safer, reducing the risk of the spread of any infectious disease, especially during the flu and cold seasons.

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Modern-day threats to human rights in an era of global digitalization

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Digital security is an overarching issue related to the development of information technology. More and more new opportunities are popping up here each year, all of which have their upsides and downsides too. Adding to the technical and economic aspects of this issue are all sorts of equally important legal and humanitarian ones, primarily those dealing with technologies for collecting people’s personal data, with tracking systems and the risks inherent in the development of other aspects of information technology. This and many other topics took center stage during an online roundtable discussion organized by the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights at the TASS press center in Moscow. The Council’s head, Valery Fadeyev, mentioned a number of negative aspects of the active spread and development of digitalization, underscoring the following topics: bullying and defamation in social networks, manipulation of people’s opinions through advertising and politics, surveillance and the related problem of personal data protection, cyber fraud and censorship practiced in the digital space by commercial companies. Suffice it to mention Facebook’s recent decision to block the Instagram account of Ramzan Kadyrov in line with US sanctions imposed on the leader of the Chechen Republic.

To minimize these risks, Fadeyev proposed to set up a special commission with a primary focus of human rights.

Picking up where Fadeyev had left off, National Anti-Corruption Committee Chairman Kirill Kabanov mentioned the emergence of criminal groups specializing in online fraud, and new challenges associated with the active use of the Internet by young people.

“What we are discussing right now is how the Internet and artificial intelligence should develop in Russia. I don’t think that anyone believes that Russia will have its own version, like, for example, what they have in China or America. The Internet is developing in the world according to certain laws that need to be registered,” Kabanov noted.

When we talk about the Chinese model, we mean full government control of all Internet resources operating in the country by means of keyword filtering of web pages, and through blacklisting of website addresses (the so-called Great Firewall of China). As for the US model, many Internet resources there are highly dependent on the current political agenda – just recall President Trump’s order to ban the Chinese social network TikTok for allegedly stealing the Americans’ personal data.

Kabanov believes that such issues should be resolved by analyzing specific cases with specialists.

Igor Ashmanov, CEO of Ashmanov & Partners, a company specializing in Internet marketing, raised the issue of preserving the citizens’ digital identity by improving and expanding the legal framework of information security.

“We must have the right to protect a person’s digital identity, essentially the right to stop using digital technology as such. Without a smartphone, we literally become stripped of our rights,” Ashmanov said. He also brought up the extremely important ethical aspect of a mass-scale collection of personal data using cutting-edge digital technology done as part of an experiment in Perm schools where commercial companies installed cameras and tracking systems everywhere under the pretext of preventing the so-called “school shooting” – violent and terrorist acts by individual students or groups of students. Ashmanov argued that schoolchildren need personal space and that such measures “violate a whole list of human rights.”

Victor Naumov, Managing Partner of the St. Petersburg office of Dentos, also underscored the importance of safeguarding the people’s digital identity. In his report Naumov decried the lack of digital awareness among people. “Unfortunately, our society, not only in Russia, was not ready for the temptations that we faced. People do not realize that when they press the “I agree” button, they allow their fingerprints to be registered somewhere, which may have far-reaching negative consequences.”

Vladimir Ovchinsky, a retired general with the Interior Ministry, outlined the time that a request for large-scale measures in the field of information security may take to come along and highlighted the main areas of high technology application directly pertaining to human rights.

“What we are discussing now are the consequences of the Fourth Industrial Revolution proclaimed at the Davos Forum in 2017. The information revolution has been happening for quite some time now, but since 2017, some things have been growing rapidly. Any technology has a triple purpose: the development of society, military purposes, and the criminal segment. In each of these areas we see human rights being infringed upon,” Ovchinsky said, noting the negative impact of the global pandemic on the development of digital crime in all three areas. Crimes associated with telecommunications technologies have particularly spiked with crooks disguised as bank employees extorting money from the people by phone. “The general trend is that the mafia is switching to new technologies and hitting the most vulnerable social groups,” Ovchinsky summed up.

Retired FSB General Alexander Mikhailov focused on criminal gangs of prisoners in Russia engaging in cyber fraud right from the places of their detention.

“Under the circumstances, the idea of ​​creating a digital code makes a lot of sense as it would not only regulate information flows but would also provide punishment for the illegal use of such information,” Mikhailov suggested.

The head of the Cyber ​​Moscow project, Grigory Pashchenkov, also spoke about protection of a person’s digital identity – “the rights of a digital person as a person,” which is an aspect still generally overlooked today.  Pashchenkov insists on the need to create a digital identity passport, arguing that it would better safeguard people against leaks of their personal data. However, such a measure is extremely hard to implement and, while helping prevent personal data leaks, it is still fraught with many complications, well exemplified by the need to enter passport data when restoring access to a profile on the VKontakte social network.

The participants in the roundtable meeting also discussed measures to increase the people’s digital literacy and set up a working group to protect human rights in the field of information technology. Thus, the question that we have yet to answer is the extent to which our life could be covered by information technologies. Here it is imperative to maintain the right balance and clearly understand the permissible limits to the invasion of science and technology into public space and the private life of an individual.

From our partner International Affairs

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Frank White says that there needs to be more international collaboration in the Space Sector

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Space-exploration is not merely a scientific expedition. It is of immense significance as it has the potential to remind humankind of what it has forgotten. The fact that Earth in the larger universe, is a very tiny planet. 

Our social divisions and hierarchies really do not hold much meaning when we consider the larger challenges that we collectively face as a species. The choices that we make today are going to impact the future generation, and our descendants would have to live with the consequences of our decisions.

Excessive focus on national priorities could provide short-term relief to our urges, but it is heavily detrimental to our interests in the longer run. Frank White, a space-psychologist who became very popular in public discourse due to the theory of the ‘Overview Effect’ which he devised, propounds on the basis of his personal experiences, that astronauts have a real potential to become agents of social change. 

According to Frank, Space-travel alters and uplifts human consciousness, and enables us to build a newly found appreciation of Earth as a system. The astronauts who look at Earth from space, often come back and say that being there really made them feel a sense of togetherness.  From outer space, the borders on Earth fade and make Earth look like a planet without distinctions. 

This very much reveals why astronauts and their experiences have been a major object of psychological interest for White in his research. 

The current pandemic has made it clearer than ever before that nations and people need to cooperate with each other to save the planet from larger existential threats. For the virus during this pandemic is coming at us irrespective of our nationalities.

Likewise, space-travel also reveals an opportunity to instil a humanitarian spirit and consciousness within us. But for that to become a reality, our space programs would also have to reflect this spirit of unity. Unfortunately, space-expeditions currently are often driven by specifically national aims and a fervour that is detrimental to the aspiration and hope of international cooperation.

The Space Force built by the U.S. for instance, has been largely justified as a response to the threats posed by other nations (The U.S. Space Force is the 6th independent U.S. military service branch, tasked with missions and operations in the rapidly evolving space domain). Frank White, on the contrary, aims to build a human space program that would reflect a global commitment towards the aim of exploring the universe. It would aim at enabling the brightest of astronauts from all across humanity to reach space, and not segregate them on the basis of nations. Building a new mental connection with the universe would be the prime motivator of such a project.

Space for Humanity as an organisation is working to sponsor citizen flights to space. The organisation founded by Dylan Taylor ensures that there is equal access and opportunity to go to space. Frank White is on the board of Space for Humanity too. 

White believes that the International Space Station (ISS) deserves the Nobel Peace Prize because it fosters the humanitarian feeling of connectedness. The ISS has truly contributed in strengthening the spirit of peace, environmental thoughtfulness, and a cooperative attitude towards situations of conflicts and crises. Frank is one of the people who had written a letter to promote the ISS getting the Nobel Peace Prize this year. He urges people to rethink the reasons why the Nobel Peace prize was founded. The astronauts who work at ISS hail from different countries that are oftentimes at conflict, but when they traverse space together and work to build a station, they put all of it behind. In space, people truly realise the value and necessity for international co-operation and this changes their outlook on life. 

The International Space Station (ISS) is a multi-nation construction project that is the largest single structure humans ever put into space. Its main construction was completed between 1998 and 2011, although the station continually evolves to include new missions and experiments. It has been continuously occupied since Nov. 2, 2000.

The opportunity of space-travel could bring us closer to each other and drop down the age-old tribal divisions artificed by social structures intended to separate us.  A deeper mental bond with the universe, would emanate out of the realization that Earth is, but a smaller part of a much larger system, and not a whole in itself.

The pandemic has given us a strong reason to stay united at a time of crisis, and White hopes that after discovering the vaccine for the virus, people would not forget what these times were like, and rather take inspiration from it and retain the spirit of international cooperation and empathy.

White’s primary contribution to space psychology remains the Overview Effect, where he highlights the “Earth-out-of-sight” experience.  The farther away from Earth one goes, deeper would be the shift and elevation in consciousness. For it would give one the ability to look at our planet as one single beautiful, blue entity; where borders would look artificially constructed and the barrenness of huge patches of land would alert us to the singular threat that should actually instigate a deeper alarm and united response from the international community; the threat of environmental deterioration, which directly thwarts Earth’s ability to sustain life.

For it is really difficult to build life-like conditions on any other surface in the universe.

It is only on Earth that human beings are able to enjoy protection from harmful radiations. If we were to inhabit Moon or Mars in the near future, the possibility of genetic mutations or the threat of diseases such as cancer proliferating is something we would seriously have to think about.

Moreover, Frank speculates that people might not be willing to go on a one-way mission to Mars. The threat of homesickness and depression could become too real.

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