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Imagine having a credit score for your life… Get caught going 45 in a 30? Good luck getting a job. Welcome to the future.
The Hustle Tues, Nov 29

China, you’re scaring us

Approximately 40 local Chinese governments are piloting a “social credit” system that sounds like something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.

In short, government officials have begun compiling digital records of people’s social and financial behavior to determine who gets loans, preferential treatment, and access to things like luxury hotels.

It’s kind of like having a credit rating for your day-to-day life.

WTF, China? Why?

The goal of this program is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.” Straight up.

In other words, the Communist party wants to expose the bad guys and restrict them from certain things, while rewarding the good guys for playing by the rules.

Here’s the problem though…

Many of the violations that hurt an individual’s “score” deserve a slap on the wrist… not financial punishment.

For example, one woman in Hangzhou used her son’s student card to ride the subway for half price (she claims it was an accident) and now faces a potential points deduction that could hurt her chances of landing a job.

Then there’s the travel company owner who lost a dispute with his landlord and is now banned from buying tickets for planes or high-speed trains.

Other violations include falling behind on bills, breaking traffic laws, and — ready for this one? — not being a good enough child (fun fact: under Chinese law, parents over 60 can sue their children if they don’t visit enough).

Big Brother’s just getting started

The Communist Party wants to roll this out nationwide by 2020, when they hope to draw on bigger data pools from things like online shopping history and social media activity.

In fact, Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma has hinted that he’s on board with giving the government access to user data.

Pretty scary stuff, but hey, not our problem, right?

Actually, Eddie Snowden exposed the NSA for similar surveillance tactics. So maybe it’s not as foreign as we thought…

 

Astroscale wants to be Earth’s trashstronauts

Or, as founder Mistsunobu Okada prefers, “Space Sweepers.”

The Japanese-based company wants to privatize space waste management and it seems like most government officials agree.

Because, as it turns out, the top astrophysicist minds of our generation didn’t grow up dreaming about being garbage men.

With advancements in satellite technology and low-orbit commercial programs like SpaceX, we’re sending more objects into space than ever before. But what happens once we’re done using them?

Out of sight, but not out of mind

Like most of the trash humans create, we rarely see the full scope. But, the problem is big enough that even NASA has a program devoted to mapping out every piece of space debris that could pose a danger to manned spacecraft.

For shuttles and satellites alike, navigating low orbit space is like flying through a minefield — a single collision could set off a chain reaction of shrapnel, making it impossible to navigate and leaving Elon Musk in a pool of his own tears.

How are they going to solve it?

Giant sticky space paddles,

Astroscale is looking for early-stage funding to launch a craft called the ELSA 1, equipped with sensors to locate the space trash and dinner plate-sized adhesive pads to collect it.

Basically, it’s a billion dollar version of those sweet velcro paddles you used to bring to the beach.

The solution seems simple enough: Do what we do on the planet and push all of our trash to a designated dump zone. Or what we like to call the “sweeping under the carpet” maneuver.

Trash Planet by 2020, mark our words…

 

The evolution of Dick’s Sporting Goods

For the past few years, Dick’s Sporting Goods has been in survival mode.

Competitors like Sports Authority have gone out of business, online sellers like Amazon continue to eat into sales, and Dick’s own suppliers are now selling direct-to-consumers online.

In many ways, Dick’s is like Barnes & Noble — a company that’s managed to outlast its competitors, but still finds itself struggling to stay afloat in a failing industry.

Which is why they’ve decided to change course…

Surviving is cool, but evolving is cooler. And that’s exactly what Dick’s is doing.

Footballs and tennis rackets? That’s in the past. Now their focus is on digital. More specifically, becoming the preeminent youth sports tech company.

Here’s how they’re doing it

Over the course of 2016, Dick’s has been building up its suite of digital products for youth sports, which it calls Dick’s Team Sports HQ.

To help in that effort, they’ve acquired Blue Sombrero (youth sports league gear) and Affinity Sports (league registration software).

And just this month, they made 2 more big announcements:

First, a deal to make Dick’s Team Sports HQ the official technology platform of Little League Baseball and Softball. That’s 3.4 million players (plus their coaches) using Dick’s technology.

Second, they acquired GameChanger, a company that tracks scores and statistics for youth leagues, as well as creating game stories so relatives and friends can check in on little Timmy’s at-bat.

Will this evolution save the company? Maybe, maybe not. we’re just happy we don’t have to write the word “dick” anymore.

 

iCal offers phishers new angle

With email filters becoming more adept at weeding out the riff raff, spammers are finding new ways of getting on our radar.

So if you own an apple device, chances are you’ve received some black Friday offers that look a little suspect… unless you typically schedule appointments to buy Ray Bans for $19.99.

Reports of fake iCal invitations coming from Chinese users for things like discount sunglasses have been cropping up with alarming frequency from scammers hoping you can pencil them in.  

Invites are still ungoverned waters

There are almost no rules iCal invites, all you need is an email — macOS and iOS automatically scan users’ inboxes for calendar invites — without the same restrictions as a traditional spam filter.

This new wave of phishing offers only “Accept,” or “Decline” as a course of action, both of which give the attackers exactly what they want; proof that that your email is active.

According to TechCrunch, one of the reasons Apple hasn’t been able to get ahead of this trend is the fact that your calendar data is encrypted, making it difficult to access (and therefore protect) your calendar from shady business.

SOS (save our schedules)

If Apple doesn’t save us, how can we protect ourselves? For now, the quickest route is changing your Advanced Preferences in Calendars to receive invitations via email, rather than directly in-app.

The idea is that your email spam filter can take it from there. Hope so, because we’re late for an appointment at Sunglass Hut.

 
 
a few good reads
 

The Quiet German (The New Yorker)

An in-depth look at the rise of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany and the most powerful woman in the world.

How the Internet Works in North Korea (Slate)

Newsflash: North Korea is an absurd place. The vast majority of the country’s 25 million citizens have no idea what an actual website looks like and even at elite universities internet access is mainly for show.

World Chess Has a Big Problem (Bloomberg)

The World Chess Championship (November 11th-30th) is back in the US for the first time since 1999, and thanks to its charismatic young stars, the sport’s fanbase is increasing. But the World Chess Federation’s ties to some of the world’s worst regimes is worrisome.

How Snapchat Secretly Bought a Struggling Startup, Then Bet the Future on it (Business Insider)

The idea for Spectacles didn’t come from Evan Spiegel, it came from Vergence Labs — a small LA startup that Snapchat quietly snatched up for $15m in 2014.

 
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Kendall "Sporting Goods Enthusiast" Baker
WRITER
Lindsey Quinn
WORDSMITH
John Havel
EDITOR
Bea Ferrone
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