Behavior in space adds a new frontier in media psychology

Media psychology and law must be combined as space exploration and applications become an increasing reality.

By Bernard Luskin, PhD

I recently interviewed two leading attorneys about the emerging field of space law, Michael Singer, Esq., a partner in a law firm specializing in space law, and Robert Lutz, Esq., a respected professor of International Law at Southwestern University School of Law. Both told me that application of the law includes the effects of the law on human behavior and they agreed that Media Psychology and Law must be combined as space exploration and applications become an increasing reality.

Singer told me that his grandfather and uncle were founders of SEGA, the renowned entertainment game company, and served on its board of directors. Singer said, “Entertainment media stimulates and challenges the imagination increasing the enthusiasm and vision of space technology innovators.” Robert Lutz added, “The military also extensively studies the psychology of media-centric games,” and helped refine the conversation by pointing out that domestic law, international law, maritime law, and space law overlap and also break new ground in law and human behavior.

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Space law includes property rights, mining rights, multimedia entertainment, travel and tourism, intellectual property including copyright, trademarks, and patents. It frames how each affects specific areas of media such as e-communications, film, telecommunications, telemedicine, telehealth, telepsychology and other variations. “The University of Mississippi Law School now offers the first ‘Certificate in Space Law’ and also publishes the Journal of Space Law twice each year. The University of Nebraska and McGeorge University of the Pacific also have space law forums,” Singer said.

Singer and Lutz agreed that the tort field of space law is rapidly growing as a result of the millions of dollars of satellite damage due to negligently placed space debris that continues to collide; efforts to communicate in space increase as fanaticized galactic functioning becomes a reality. There will be hundreds of new inventions and thousands of new patents making their way to the US patent office. Lawyers have begun debating a myriad of issues related to ownership rights on the Moon, Mars … and beyond. I have testified as an expert witness regarding media effects on behavior in many intellectual property, trademark and copyright cases.

Examples of early players include Conrad Hilton who, before his passing in 1969, announced his own plans for a hotel on the moon and charged the Hilton family to continue to work to fulfill his dream. Elon Musk from Space X, who recently launched a private rocket with a payload that docked with the Mir space station, and entrepreneur Richard Branson, who formed the Virgin Group of more than 400 companies, is building a spaceport in New Mexico and a space ship called the “Enterprise” that plans to take off, explore space, and return to earth. Google also has announced plans to launch space telescopes as Google’s first venture into mining asteroids. Singer believes that Google users will soon be space spotting as part of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, in partnership with major universities and lone home enthusiasts interested in experimenting with outer space communications.

Singer described his Universe Broadcasting Corporation (UBC), dedicated to the exploration and colonization of outer space. UBC has developed a proprietary communication system allowing users to send messages to space in search of response. He said that “by applying the psychological fundamentals of game entertainment media, UBC gives everyone the chance to be a space explorer and participate in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “In the near future, UBC plans to broadcast entertainment, higher education, legal and media training programs in new forms of publishing,” he said.

Areas identified for media psychology study during the interviews are:

  • Social Networking

  • Education

  • Promotional Transmissions—marketing, advertising, sales

  • Video Games

  • Publishing

  • Telehealth

  • Mining

  • Military and Security Applications

  • Entertainment Programming, and

  • New Product Development

  • Geostationary orbit allocation

When I was CEO of Jones Interactive, Inc., a company of Jones International, Inc., headed by legendary cable mogul Glenn Jones, we operated four satellite transponders on a satellite in geostationary orbit. Using our transponders we managed a series of commercial and educational satellite cable networks including Jones Education Networks, Mind Extension University, a pioneering education network, and the (PIN) Product Information Network, a pioneering network that broke new ground in the format and use of infomercials. Each of the Jones networks coupled the emerging technology with the psychology of their applications from education to product sales and was an important vehicle for our study of media effects in order to increasingly understand how and why people responded as they did.

The UN Office for Outer Space Affairs

The United Nations has now established the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs as part of the United Nations Secretariat. It is located at the United Nations Office in Vienna as a symbol acknowledging the importance of space as an area of world interest.

Progress in space will trigger discussions about the freedom of exploration, liability for damage caused by space objects, the safety and rescue of spacecraft and astronauts, arms control issues, the prevention of harmful interference with space activities and the environment, the notification and registration of space activities, new globalization in entertainment and education, new rules for publishing and media communications, new types of entertainment programming, scientific investigation and the exploitation of natural resources in outer space and other yet unidentified areas that will ultimately be included in our field of media psychology.

Redacted and revised from my Psychology Today Blog—Media Psychology Effects, dated Sept. 25, 2012