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Ben "The Hosk" Hosking

Ben "The Hosk" Hosking

1 year ago

The Yellow Cat Test Is Typically Failed by Software Developers.

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Waleed Rikab, PhD

Waleed Rikab, PhD

1 year ago

The Enablement of Fraud and Misinformation by Generative AI What You Should Understand

Recent investigations have shown that generative AI can boost hackers and misinformation spreaders.

Generated through Stable Diffusion with a prompt by the author

Since its inception in late November 2022, OpenAI's ChatGPT has entertained and assisted many online users in writing, coding, task automation, and linguistic translation. Given this versatility, it is maybe unsurprising but nonetheless regrettable that fraudsters and mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM) spreaders are also considering ChatGPT and related AI models to streamline and improve their operations.

Malign actors may benefit from ChatGPT, according to a WithSecure research. ChatGPT promises to elevate unlawful operations across many attack channels. ChatGPT can automate spear phishing attacks that deceive corporate victims into reading emails from trusted parties. Malware, extortion, and illicit fund transfers can result from such access.

ChatGPT's ability to simulate a desired writing style makes spear phishing emails look more genuine, especially for international actors who don't speak English (or other languages like Spanish and French).

This technique could let Russian, North Korean, and Iranian state-backed hackers conduct more convincing social engineering and election intervention in the US. ChatGPT can also create several campaigns and various phony online personas to promote them, making such attacks successful through volume or variation. Additionally, image-generating AI algorithms and other developing techniques can help these efforts deceive potential victims.

Hackers are discussing using ChatGPT to install malware and steal data, according to a Check Point research. Though ChatGPT's scripts are well-known in the cyber security business, they can assist amateur actors with little technical understanding into the field and possibly develop their hacking and social engineering skills through repeated use.

Additionally, ChatGPT's hacking suggestions may change. As a writer recently indicated, ChatGPT's ability to blend textual and code-based writing might be a game-changer, allowing the injection of innocent content that would subsequently turn out to be a malicious script into targeted systems. These new AI-powered writing- and code-generation abilities allow for unique cyber attacks, regardless of viability.

OpenAI fears ChatGPT usage. OpenAI, Georgetown University's Center for Security and Emerging Technology, and Stanford's Internet Observatory wrote a paper on how AI language models could enhance nation state-backed influence operations. As a last resort, the authors consider polluting the internet with radioactive or misleading data to ensure that AI language models produce outputs that other language models can identify as AI-generated. However, the authors of this paper seem unaware that their "solution" might cause much worse MDM difficulties.

Literally False News

The public argument about ChatGPTs content-generation has focused on originality, bias, and academic honesty, but broader global issues are at stake. ChatGPT can influence public opinion, troll individuals, and interfere in local and national elections by creating and automating enormous amounts of social media material for specified audiences.

ChatGPT's capacity to generate textual and code output is crucial. ChatGPT can write Python scripts for social media bots and give diverse content for repeated posts. The tool's sophistication makes it irrelevant to one's language skills, especially English, when writing MDM propaganda.

I ordered ChatGPT to write a news piece in the style of big US publications declaring that Ukraine is on the verge of defeat in its fight against Russia due to corruption, desertion, and exhaustion in its army. I also gave it a fake reporter's byline and an unidentified NATO source's remark. The outcome appears convincing:

Worse, terrible performers can modify this piece to make it more credible. They can edit the general's name or add facts about current wars. Furthermore, such actors can create many versions of this report in different forms and distribute them separately, boosting its impact.

In this example, ChatGPT produced a news story regarding (fictional) greater moviegoer fatality rates:

Editing this example makes it more plausible. Dr. Jane Smith, the putative author of the medical report, might be replaced with a real-life medical person or a real victim of this supposed medical hazard.

Can deceptive texts be found? Detecting AI text is behind AI advancements. Minor AI-generated text alterations can upset these technologies.

Some OpenAI individuals have proposed covert methods to watermark AI-generated literature to prevent its abuse. AI models would create information that appears normal to humans but would follow a cryptographic formula that would warn other machines that it was AI-made. However, security experts are cautious since manually altering the content interrupts machine and human detection of AI-generated material.

How to Prepare

Cyber security and IT workers can research and use generative AI models to fight spear fishing and extortion. Governments may also launch MDM-defence projects.

In election cycles and global crises, regular people may be the most vulnerable to AI-produced deceit. Until regulation or subsequent technical advances, individuals must recognize exposure to AI-generated fraud, dating scams, other MDM activities.

A three-step verification method of new material in suspicious emails or social media posts can help identify AI content and manipulation. This three-step approach asks about the information's distribution platform (is it reliable? ), author (is the reader familiar with them? ), and plausibility given one's prior knowledge of the topic.

Consider a report by a trusted journalist that makes shocking statements in their typical manner. AI-powered fake news may be released on an unexpected platform, such as a newly created Facebook profile. However, if it links to a known media source, it is more likely to be real.

Though hard and subjective, this verification method may be the only barrier against manipulation for now.

AI language models:

How to Recognize an AI-Generated Article ChatGPT, the popular AI-powered chatbot, can and likely does generate medium.com-style articles.

AI-Generated Text Detectors Fail. Do This. Online tools claim to detect ChatGPT output. Even with superior programming, I tested some of these tools. pub

Why Original Writers Matter Despite AI Language Models Creative writers may never be threatened by AI language models.

James Brockbank

1 year ago

Canonical URLs for Beginners

Canonicalization and canonical URLs are essential for SEO, and improper implementation can negatively impact your site's performance.

Canonical tags were introduced in 2009 to help webmasters with duplicate or similar content on multiple URLs.

To use canonical tags properly, you must understand their purpose, operation, and implementation.

Canonical URLs and Tags

Canonical tags tell search engines that a certain URL is a page's master copy. They specify a page's canonical URL. Webmasters can avoid duplicate content by linking to the "canonical" or "preferred" version of a page.

How are canonical tags and URLs different? Can these be specified differently?

Tags

Canonical tags are found in an HTML page's head></head> section.

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.website.com/page/" />

These can be self-referencing or reference another page's URL to consolidate signals.

Canonical tags and URLs are often used interchangeably, which is incorrect.

The rel="canonical" tag is the most common way to set canonical URLs, but it's not the only way.

Canonical URLs

What's a canonical link? Canonical link is the'master' URL for duplicate pages.

In Google's own words:

A canonical URL is the page Google thinks is most representative of duplicate pages on your site.

— Google Search Console Help

You can indicate your preferred canonical URL. For various reasons, Google may choose a different page than you.

When set correctly, the canonical URL is usually your specified URL.

Canonical URLs determine which page will be shown in search results (unless a duplicate is explicitly better for a user, like a mobile version).

Canonical URLs can be on different domains.

Other ways to specify canonical URLs

Canonical tags are the most common way to specify a canonical URL.

You can also set canonicals by:

  • Setting the HTTP header rel=canonical.

  • All pages listed in a sitemap are suggested as canonicals, but Google decides which pages are duplicates.

  • Redirects 301.

Google recommends these methods, but they aren't all appropriate for every situation, as we'll see below. Each has its own recommended uses.

Setting canonical URLs isn't required; if you don't, Google will use other signals to determine the best page version.

To control how your site appears in search engines and to avoid duplicate content issues, you should use canonicalization effectively.

Why Duplicate Content Exists

Before we discuss why you should use canonical URLs and how to specify them in popular CMSs, we must first explain why duplicate content exists. Nobody intentionally duplicates website content.

Content management systems create multiple URLs when you launch a page, have indexable versions of your site, or use dynamic URLs.

Assume the following URLs display the same content to a user:

  1. https://www.website.com/category/product-a/

  2. https://www.website.com/product-a/

  3. https://website.com/product-a/

  4. http://www.website.com/product-a/

  5. http://website.com/product-a/

  6. https://m.website.com/product-a/

  7. https://www.website.com/product-a

  8. https://www.website.com/product-A/

A search engine sees eight duplicate pages, not one.

  • URLs #1 and #2: the CMS saves product URLs with and without the category name.

  • #3, #4, and #5 result from the site being accessible via HTTP, HTTPS, www, and non-www.

  • #6 is a subdomain mobile-friendly URL.

  • URL #7 lacks URL #2's trailing slash.

  • URL #8 uses a capital "A" instead of a lowercase one.

Duplicate content may also exist in URLs like:

https://www.website.com
https://www.website.com/index.php

Duplicate content is easy to create.

Canonical URLs help search engines identify different page variations as a single URL on many sites.

SEO Canonical URLs

Canonical URLs help you manage duplicate content that could affect site performance.

Canonical URLs are a technical SEO focus area for many reasons.

Specify URL for search results

When you set a canonical URL, you tell Google which page version to display.

Which would you click?

https://www.domain.com/page-1/

https://www.domain.com/index.php?id=2

First, probably.

Canonicals tell search engines which URL to rank.

Consolidate link signals on similar pages

When you have duplicate or nearly identical pages on your site, the URLs may get external links.

Canonical URLs consolidate multiple pages' link signals into a single URL.

This helps your site rank because signals from multiple URLs are consolidated into one.

Syndication management

Content is often syndicated to reach new audiences.

Canonical URLs consolidate ranking signals to prevent duplicate pages from ranking and ensure the original content ranks.

Avoid Googlebot duplicate page crawling

Canonical URLs ensure that Googlebot crawls your new pages rather than duplicated versions of the same one across mobile and desktop versions, for example.

Crawl budgets aren't an issue for most sites unless they have 100,000+ pages.

How to Correctly Implement the rel=canonical Tag

Using the header tag rel="canonical" is the most common way to specify canonical URLs.

Adding tags and HTML code may seem daunting if you're not a developer, but most CMS platforms allow canonicals out-of-the-box.

These URLs each have one product.

How to Correctly Implement a rel="canonical" HTTP Header

A rel="canonical" HTTP header can replace canonical tags.

This is how to implement a canonical URL for PDFs or non-HTML documents.

You can specify a canonical URL in your site's.htaccess file using the code below.

<Files "file-to-canonicalize.pdf"> Header add Link "< http://www.website.com/canonical-page/>; rel=\"canonical\"" </Files>

301 redirects for canonical URLs

Google says 301 redirects can specify canonical URLs.

Only the canonical URL will exist if you use 301 redirects. This will redirect duplicates.

This is the best way to fix duplicate content across:

  • HTTPS and HTTP

  • Non-WWW and WWW

  • Trailing-Slash and Non-Trailing Slash URLs

On a single page, you should use canonical tags unless you can confidently delete and redirect the page.

Sitemaps' canonical URLs

Google assumes sitemap URLs are canonical, so don't include non-canonical URLs.

This does not guarantee canonical URLs, but is a best practice for sitemaps.

Best-practice Canonical Tag

Once you understand a few simple best practices for canonical tags, spotting and cleaning up duplicate content becomes much easier.

Always include:

One canonical URL per page

If you specify multiple canonical URLs per page, they will likely be ignored.

Correct Domain Protocol

If your site uses HTTPS, use this as the canonical URL. It's easy to reference the wrong protocol, so check for it to catch it early.

Trailing slash or non-trailing slash URLs

Be sure to include trailing slashes in your canonical URL if your site uses them.

Specify URLs other than WWW

Search engines see non-WWW and WWW URLs as duplicate pages, so use the correct one.

Absolute URLs

To ensure proper interpretation, canonical tags should use absolute URLs.

So use:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.website.com/page-a/" />

And not:

<link rel="canonical" href="/page-a/" />

If not canonicalizing, use self-referential canonical URLs.

When a page isn't canonicalizing to another URL, use self-referencing canonical URLs.

Canonical tags refer to themselves here.

Common Canonical Tags Mistakes

Here are some common canonical tag mistakes.

301 Canonicalization

Set the canonical URL as the redirect target, not a redirected URL.

Incorrect Domain Canonicalization

If your site uses HTTPS, don't set canonical URLs to HTTP.

Irrelevant Canonicalization

Canonicalize URLs to duplicate or near-identical content only.

SEOs sometimes try to pass link signals via canonical tags from unrelated content to increase rank. This isn't how canonicalization should be used and should be avoided.

Multiple Canonical URLs

Only use one canonical tag or URL per page; otherwise, they may all be ignored.

When overriding defaults in some CMSs, you may accidentally include two canonical tags in your page's <head>.

Pagination vs. Canonicalization

Incorrect pagination can cause duplicate content. Canonicalizing URLs to the first page isn't always the best solution.

Canonicalize to a 'view all' page.

How to Audit Canonical Tags (and Fix Issues)

Audit your site's canonical tags to find canonicalization issues.

SEMrush Site Audit can help. You'll find canonical tag checks in your website's site audit report.

Let's examine these issues and their solutions.

No Canonical Tag on AMP

Site Audit will flag AMP pages without canonical tags.

Canonicalization between AMP and non-AMP pages is important.

Add a rel="canonical" tag to each AMP page's head>.

No HTTPS redirect or canonical from HTTP homepage

Duplicate content issues will be flagged in the Site Audit if your site is accessible via HTTPS and HTTP.

You can fix this by 301 redirecting or adding a canonical tag to HTTP pages that references HTTPS.

Broken canonical links

Broken canonical links won't be considered canonical URLs.

This error could mean your canonical links point to non-existent pages, complicating crawling and indexing.

Update broken canonical links to the correct URLs.

Multiple canonical URLs

This error occurs when a page has multiple canonical URLs.

Remove duplicate tags and leave one.

Canonicalization is a key SEO concept, and using it incorrectly can hurt your site's performance.

Once you understand how it works, what it does, and how to find and fix issues, you can use it effectively to remove duplicate content from your site.


Canonicalization SEO Myths

Nikhil Vemu

Nikhil Vemu

1 year ago

7 Mac Tips You Never Knew You Needed

Unleash the power of the Option key ⌥

Photo by Michał Kubalczyk on Unsplash

#1 Open a link in the Private tab first.

Previously, if I needed to open a Safari link in a private window, I would:

  • copied the URL with the right click command,

  • choose File > New Private Window to open a private window, and

  • clicked return after pasting the URL.

I've found a more straightforward way.

Right-clicking a link shows this, right?

This, and all the images below are by the author

Hold option (⌥) for:

‘Open Link in New Private Window’ in Mac Safari

Click Open Link in New Private Window while holding.

Finished!

#2. Instead of searching for specific characters, try this

You may use unicode for business or school. Most people Google them when they need them.

That is lengthy!

You can type some special characters just by pressing ⌥ and a key.

For instance

• ⌥+2 -> ™ (Trademark)
• ⌥+0 -> ° (Degree)
• ⌥+G -> © (Copyright)
• ⌥+= -> ≠ (Not equal to)
• ⌥+< -> ≤ (Less than or equal to)
• ⌥+> -> ≥ (Greater then or equal to)
• ⌥+/ -> ÷ (Different symbol for division)

#3 Activate Do Not Disturb silently.

Do Not Disturb when sharing my screen is awkward for me (because people may think Im trying to hide some secret notifications).

Here's another method.

Hold ⌥ and click on Time (at the extreme right on the menu-bar).

Menubar in Mac

Now, DND is activated (secretly!). To turn it off, do it again.

Note: This works only for DND focus.

#4. Resize a window starting from its center

Although this is rarely useful, it is still a hidden trick.

When you resize a window, the opposite edge or corner is used as the pivot, right?

However, if you want to resize it with its center as the pivot, hold while doing so.

#5. Yes, Cut-Paste is available on Macs as well (though it is slightly different).

I call it copy-move rather than cut-paste. This is how it works.

Carry it out.

Choose a file (by clicking on it), then copy it (+C).

Go to a new location on your Mac. Do you use +V to paste it? However, to move it, press ⌘+⌥+V.

This removes the file from its original location and copies it here. And it works exactly like cut-and-paste on Windows.

#6. Instantly expand all folders

Set your Mac's folders to List view.

Assume you have one folder with multiple subfolders, each of which contains multiple files. And you wanted to look at every single file that was over there.

How would you do?

You're used to clicking the ⌄ glyph near the folder and each subfolder to expand them all, right? Instead, hold down ⌥ while clicking ⌄ on the parent folder.

This is what happens next.

Everything expands.

View/Copy a file's path as an added bonus

If you want to see the path of a file in Finder, select it and hold ⌥, and you'll see it at the bottom for a moment.

To copy its path, right-click on the folder and hold down ⌥ to see this

Click on Copy <"folder name"> as Pathname to do it.

#7 "Save As"

I was irritated by the lack of "Save As" in Pages when I first got a Mac (after 15 years of being a Windows guy).

It was necessary for me to save the file as a new file, in a different location, with a different name, or both.

Unfortunately, I couldn't do it on a Mac.

However, I recently discovered that it appears when you hold ⌥ when in the File menu.

Yay!

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Desiree Peralta

Desiree Peralta

1 year ago

How to Use the 2023 Recession to Grow Your Wealth Exponentially

This season's three best money moves.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

“Millionaires are made in recessions.” — Time Capital

We're in a serious downturn, whether or not we're in a recession.

97% of business owners are decreasing costs by more than 10%, and all markets are down 30%.

If you know what you're doing and analyze the markets correctly, this is your chance to become a millionaire.

In any recession, there are always excellent possibilities to seize. Real estate, crypto, stocks, enterprises, etc.

What you do with your money could influence your future riches.

This article analyzes the three key markets, their circumstances for 2023, and how to profit from them.

Ways to make money on the stock market.

If you're conservative like me, you should invest in an index fund. Most of these funds are down 10-30% of ATH:

Prices comparitions between funds, — By Google finance

In earlier recessions, most money index funds lost 20%. After this downturn, they grew and passed the ATH in subsequent months.

Now is the greatest moment to invest in index funds to grow your money in a low-risk approach and make 20%.

If you want to be risky but wise, pick companies that will get better next year but are struggling now.

Even while we can't be 100% confident of a company's future performance, we know some are strong and will have a fantastic year.

Microsoft (down 22%), JPMorgan Chase (15.6%), Amazon (45%), and Disney (33.8%).

These firms give dividends, so you can earn passively while you wait.

So I consider that a good strategy to make wealth in the current stock market is to create two portfolios: one based on index funds to earn 10% to 20% profit when the corrections end, and the other based on individual stocks of popular and strong companies to earn 20%-30% return and dividends while you wait.

How to profit from the downturn in the real estate industry.

With rising mortgage rates, it's the worst moment to buy a home if you don't want to be eaten by banks. In the U.S., interest rates are double what they were three years ago, so buying now looks foolish.

Interest rates chart — by Bankrate

Due to these rates, property prices are falling, but that won't last long since individuals will take advantage.

According to historical data, now is the ideal moment to buy a house for the next five years and perhaps forever.

House prices since 1970 — By Trading Economics

If you can buy a house, do it. You can refinance the interest at a lower rate with acceptable credit, but not the house price.

Take advantage of the housing market prices now because you won't find a decent deal when rates normalize.

How to profit from the cryptocurrency market.

This is the riskiest market to tackle right now, but it could offer the most opportunities if done appropriately.

The most powerful cryptocurrencies are down more than 60% from last year: $68,990 for BTC and $4,865 for ETH.

If you focus on those two coins, you can make 30%-60% without waiting for them to return to their ATH, and they're low enough to be a solid investment.

I don't encourage trying other altcoins because the crypto market is in crisis and you can lose everything if you're greedy.

Still, the main Cryptos are a good investment provided you store them in an external wallet and follow financial gurus' security advice.

Last thoughts

We can't anticipate a recession until it ends. We can't forecast a market or asset's lowest point, therefore waiting makes little sense.

If you want to develop your wealth, assess the money prospects on all the marketplaces and initiate long-term trades.

Many millionaires are made during recessions because they don't fear negative figures and use them to scale their money.

Gill Pratt

Gill Pratt

1 year ago

War's Human Cost

War's Human Cost
I didn't start crying until I was outside a McDonald's in an Olempin, Poland rest area on highway S17.


Children pick toys at a refugee center, Olempin, Poland, March 4, 2022.

Refugee children, mostly alone with their mothers, but occasionally with a gray-haired grandfather or non-Ukrainian father, were coaxed into picking a toy from boxes provided by a kind-hearted company and volunteers.
I went to Warsaw to continue my research on my family's history during the Holocaust. In light of the ongoing Ukrainian conflict, I asked former colleagues in the US Department of Defense and Intelligence Community if it was safe to travel there. They said yes, as Poland was a NATO member.
I stayed in a hotel in the Warsaw Ghetto, where 90% of my mother's family was murdered in the Holocaust. Across the street was the first Warsaw Judenrat. It was two blocks away from the apartment building my mother's family had owned and lived in, now dilapidated and empty.


Building of my great-grandfather, December 2021.

A mass grave of thousands of rocks for those killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, I didn't cry when I touched its cold walls.


Warsaw Jewish Cemetery, 200,000–300,000 graves.


Mass grave, Warsaw Jewish Cemetery.

My mother's family had two homes, one in Warszawa and the rural one was a forest and sawmill complex in Western Ukraine. For the past half-year, a local Ukrainian historian had been helping me discover faint traces of her family’s life there — in fact, he had found some people still alive who remembered the sawmill and that it belonged to my mother’s grandfather. The historian was good at his job, and we had become close.


My historian friend, December 2021, talking to a Ukrainian.

With war raging, my second trip to Warsaw took on a different mission. To see his daughter and one-year-old grandson, I drove east instead of to Ukraine. They had crossed the border shortly after the war began, leaving men behind, and were now staying with a friend on Poland's eastern border.
I entered after walking up to the house and settling with the dog. The grandson greeted me with a huge smile and the Ukrainian word for “daddy,” “Tato!” But it was clear he was awaiting his real father's arrival, and any man he met would be so tentatively named.
After a few moments, the boy realized I was only a stranger. He had musical talent, like his mother and grandfather, both piano teachers, as he danced to YouTube videos of American children's songs dubbed in Ukrainian, picking the ones he liked and crying when he didn't.


Songs chosen by my historian friend's grandson, March 4, 2022

He had enough music and began crying regardless of the song. His mother picked him up and started nursing him, saying she was worried about him. She had no idea where she would live or how she would survive outside Ukraine. She showed me her father's family history of losses in the Holocaust, which matched my own research.
After an hour of drinking tea and trying to speak of hope, I left for the 3.5-hour drive west to Warsaw.
It was unlike my drive east. It was reminiscent of the household goods-filled carts pulled by horses and people fleeing war 80 years ago.


Jewish refugees relocating, USHMM Holocaust Encyclopaedia, 1939.

The carefully chosen trinkets by children to distract them from awareness of what is really happening and the anxiety of what lies ahead, made me cry despite all my research on the Holocaust. There is no way for them to communicate with their mothers, who are worried, absent, and without their fathers.
It's easy to see war as a contest of nations' armies, weapons, and land. The most costly aspect of war is its psychological toll. My father screamed in his sleep from nightmares of his own adolescent trauma in Warsaw 80 years ago.


Survivor father studying engineering, 1961.

In the airport, I waited to return home while Ukrainian public address systems announced refugee assistance. Like at McDonald's, many mothers were alone with their children, waiting for a flight to distant relatives.
That's when I had my worst trip experience.
A woman near me, clearly a refugee, answered her phone, cried out, and began wailing.
The human cost of war descended like a hammer, and I realized that while I was going home, she never would

Full article

Tomas Pueyo

Tomas Pueyo

9 months ago

Soon, a Starship Will Transform Humanity

SpaceX's Starship.

Source

Launched last week.

Four minutes in:

SpaceX will succeed. When it does, its massiveness will matter.

Source

Its payload will revolutionize space economics.

Civilization will shift.

We don't yet understand how this will affect space and Earth culture. Grab it.

The Cost of Space Transportation Has Decreased Exponentially

Space launches have increased dramatically in recent years.

We mostly send items to LEO, the green area below:

I always had a hard time remembering that LEO stands for Low-Earth Orbit. Now I imagine a lion orbiting the Earth, and that did the trick.

SpaceX's reusable rockets can send these things to LEO. Each may launch dozens of payloads into space.

With all these launches, we're sending more than simply things to space. Volume and mass. Since the 1980s, launching a kilogram of payload to LEO has become cheaper:

Falcon Heavy is the heavy rocket from SpaceX. Notice this is a logarithmic scale! The Falcon Heavy was SpaceX’s biggest rocket yet. It will soon be superseded by Starship.

One kilogram in a large rocket cost over $75,000 in the 1980s. Carrying one astronaut cost nearly $5M! Falcon Heavy's $1,500/kg price is 50 times lower. SpaceX's larger, reusable rockets are amazing.

SpaceX's Starship rocket will continue. It can carry over 100 tons to LEO, 50% more than the current Falcon heavy. Thousands of launches per year. Elon Musk predicts Falcon Heavy's $1,500/kg cost will plummet to $100 in 23 years.

In context:

Angara was the rocket that previously held the record for cheapest transportation to LEO.

People underestimate this.

2. The Benefits of Affordable Transportation

Compare Earth's transportation costs:

Source: US Department of Transportation.

It's no surprise that the US and Northern Europe are the wealthiest and have the most navigable interior waterways.

The Mississippi River is one of the biggest systems of navigable waterways on Earth. And on top of that, navigation along the US’s Mexican Gulf and East Coast is protected by a series of islands, making sea shipping easier than in the open ocean.European navigable waterways

So what? since sea transportation is cheaper than land. Inland waterways are even better than sea transportation since weather is less of an issue, currents can be controlled, and rivers serve two banks instead of one for coastal transportation.

In France, because population density follows river systems, rivers are valuable. Cheap transportation brought people and money to rivers, especially their confluences.

Look at the population. Can you see dark red lines? Those are people living close to rivers. You can guess where the rivers are by looking at the map. Also, you can see the bigger cities are always at the confluence between rivers.

How come? Why were humans surrounding rivers?

Imagine selling meat for $10 per kilogram. Transporting one kg one kilometer costs $1. Your margin decreases $1 each kilometer. You can only ship 10 kilometers. For example, you can only trade with four cities:

If instead, your cost of transportation is half, what happens? It costs you $0.5 per km. You now have higher margins with each city you traded with. More importantly, you can reach 20-km markets.

However, 2x distance 4x surface! You can now trade with sixteen cities instead of four! Metcalfe's law states that a network's value increases with its nodes squared. Since now sixteen cities can connect to yours. Each city now has sixteen connections! They get affluent and can afford more meat.

Rivers lower travel costs, connecting many cities, which can trade more, get wealthy, and buy more.

The right network is worth at least an order of magnitude more than the left! The cheaper the transport, the more trade at a lower cost, the more income generated, the more that wealth can be reinvested in better canals, bridges, and roads, and the wealth grows even more.

Throughout history. Rome was established around cheap Mediterranean transit and preoccupied with cutting overland transportation costs with their famous roadways. Communications restricted their empire.

This map shows the distance from Rome in terms of days of travel. The size of the Roman Empire was about five weeks of travel. This is not a coincidence. Source: Orbis, the Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World

The Egyptians lived around the Nile, the Vikings around the North Sea, early Japan around the Seto Inland Sea, and China started canals in the 5th century BC.

Transportation costs shaped empires.Starship is lowering new-world transit expenses. What's possible?

3. Change Organizations, Change Companies, Change the World

Starship is a conveyor belt to LEO. A new world of opportunity opens up as transportation prices drop 100x in a decade.

Satellite engineers have spent decades shedding milligrams. Weight influenced every decision: pricing structure, volumes to be sent, material selections, power sources, thermal protection, guiding, navigation, and control software. Weight was everything in the mission. To pack as much science into every millimeter, NASA missions had to be miniaturized. Engineers were indoctrinated against mass.

No way.

Starship is not constrained by any space mission, robotic or crewed.

Starship obliterates the mass constraint and every last vestige of cultural baggage it has gouged into the minds of spacecraft designers. A dollar spent on mass optimization no longer buys a dollar saved on launch cost. It buys nothing. It is time to raise the scope of our ambition and think much bigger. — Casey Handmer, Starship is still not understood

A Tesla Roadster in space makes more sense.

Starman, the roadster, and the Earth. Source.

It went beyond bad PR. It told the industry: Did you care about every microgram? No more. My rockets are big enough to send a Tesla without noticing. Industry watchers should have noticed.

Most didn’t. Artemis is a global mission to send astronauts to the Moon and build a base. Artemis uses disposable Space Launch System rockets. Instead of sending two or three dinky 10-ton crew habitats over the next decade, Starship might deliver 100x as much cargo and create a base for 1,000 astronauts in a year or two. Why not? Because Artemis remains in a pre-Starship paradigm where each kilogram costs a million dollars and we must aggressively descope our objective.

An overengineer at work

Space agencies can deliver 100x more payload to space for the same budget with 100x lower costs and 100x higher transportation volumes. How can space economy saturate this new supply?

Before Starship, NASA supplied heavy equipment for Moon base construction. After Starship, Caterpillar and Deere may space-qualify their products with little alterations. Instead than waiting decades for NASA engineers to catch up, we could send people to build a space outpost with John Deere equipment in a few years.

History is littered with the wreckage of former industrial titans that underestimated the impact of new technology and overestimated their ability to adapt: Blockbuster, Motorola, Kodak, Nokia, RIM, Xerox, Yahoo, IBM, Atari, Sears, Hitachi, Polaroid, Toshiba, HP, Palm, Sony, PanAm, Sega, Netscape, Compaq, GM… — Casey Handmer, Starship is still not understood

Everyone saw it coming, but senior management failed to realize that adaption would involve moving beyond their established business practice. Others will if they don't.

4. The Starship Possibilities

It's Starlink.

SpaceX invented affordable cargo space and grasped its implications first. How can we use all this inexpensive cargo nobody knows how to use?

Satellite communications seemed like the best way to capitalize on it. They tried. Starlink, designed by SpaceX, provides fast, dependable Internet worldwide. Beaming information down is often cheaper than cable. Already profitable.

Starlink is one use for all this cheap cargo space. Many more. The longer firms ignore the opportunity, the more SpaceX will acquire.

What are these chances?

Satellite imagery is outdated and lacks detail. We can improve greatly. Synthetic aperture radar can take beautiful shots like this:

This radar image acquired by the SIR-C/X-SAR radar on board the Space Shuttle Endeavour shows the Teide volcano. The city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is visible as the purple and white area on the lower right edge of the island. Lava flows at the summit crater appear in shades of green and brown, while vegetation zones appear as areas of purple, green and yellow on the volcano’s flanks. Source.

Have you ever used Google Maps and thought, "I want to see this in more detail"? What if I could view Earth live? What if we could livestream an infrared image of Earth?

The fall of Kabul. Source: Maxar

We could launch hundreds of satellites with such mind-blowing visual precision of the Earth that we would dramatically improve the accuracy of our meteorological models; our agriculture; where crime is happening; where poachers are operating in the savannah; climate change; and who is moving military personnel where. Is that useful?

What if we could see Earth in real time? That affects businesses? That changes society?