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Finding new language for space missions that fly without humans

Unmanned? Robotic? Unpiloted? Uncrewed? Unoccupied? Unhumaned? Drone? Autonomous? Crewless?

Posted by Emily Lakdawalla

05-10-2015 11:14 CDT

Topics: about science writing

Historically, human spaceflight was described using the words "manned" and "unmanned," but NASA has shifted to using gender-neutral words to describe human space exploration. Since 2006, the NASA History Program Office Style Guide has stated:

All references referring to the space program should be non-gender specific (e.g. human, piloted, un-piloted, robotic). The exception to the rule is when referring to the Manned Spacecraft Center, the predecessor to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, or any other official program name or title that included "manned" (e.g. Associate Administrator for Manned Spaceflight).

Why is this important? The words that we use to describe human endeavors matter, and professional organizations are working now to shape a future that is more inclusive of people who are not male or white. As one example, the National Council of Teachers of English writes: "Word choices often reflect unconscious assumptions about gender roles. As professionals, we all need to examine our language to reduce or eliminate choices that silence, stereotype, or constrain others."

Many space news outlets now use the words "crewed" and "uncrewed" to distinguish spaceships that contain humans from ones that do not. While I like the gender-neutral shift, I personally don't like these words much; when spoken aloud, the unfamiliar "crewed" sounds like the more-familiar "crude," which is both negative-sounding and confusing. I usually use "human" and "robotic."

The Associated Press Stylebook (the law for many news organizations) has nothing specific to say on the matter, but in response to online questions, they still use the outdated "unmanned" and "manned":

AP editor answers to questions about usage of

On May 1, my fellow space blogger Jason Davis submitted his own question to the AP about their policy regarding the use of gender-neutral language to describe human spaceflight, pointing to the NASA History style guide. They have not responded.

That leaves mainstream media reporters who want to use more inclusive language in a tough position. Last week, there was a lengthy discussion on Twitter between New York Times science writer Kenneth Chang and several researchers about alternatives to the word "unmanned." I Storified the discussion, which is very much worth reading in its entirety, but here's the gist.

The conversation began when scientist David Grinspoon suggested another science writer use the word "robotic" rather than "unmanned" in an online article. Chang responded to Grinspoon that there were situations in which he has no choice but to use the word "unmanned." Chang's specific example was: the first line of an article in which a Space Station cargo resupply ship blows up. Chang said that he has written entire articles using gender-neutral language, only to have editors (often women, he pointed out), insert the word "unmanned" in the lede.

They insert the word because it's important to establish in the first line in as few words as possible that there were no people aboard the unfortunate spacecraft, and Chang's editors won't allow "uncrewed" because it's not in the dictionary. "Unpiloted" doesn't work because, in fact, the ships are piloted, with tightly controlled ascent and descent -- it's just not always a human doing the piloting. "Autonomous", "drone", or "robotic" vehicles could all contain humans, and indeed many modern vehicles are at least partially autonomous, from self-driving cars to passenger planes to human-carrying spaceflight capsules. In the cordial conversation that followed among Grinspoon, Chang, and several other researchers, they discussed a variety of alternative words and eventually hit upon the word "crewless," first suggested by astronomer Michele Bannister. Meanwhile, astronomer Alex Parker suggested that people submit "uncrewed" to the dictionary as a different way to solve the problem.

The conversation was interesting on its own merits. But I also think it demonstrates the value of Twitter as a platform for reasoned discussion. Read the entire conversation here.

I'm writing about this subject because I care about it personally, but The Planetary Society considers it an important organizational issue, too. Erin Greeson, our director of communications, told me:

Our mission is to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration. Our mission, by nature, is all-inclusive. Language that potentially alienates any given group of people - whether based on gender, ethnicity, age, ability, or other - may impede our success. We thus strive to communicate in a way that reminds people of all walks of life that they do have a place in space: space is not for limited, isolated groups. This adventure is for everyone.

Hear, hear!

 
See other posts from October 2015

 

Or read more blog entries about: about science writing

Comments:

Gregk: 10/05/2015 11:41 CDT

Thornier problem than I realized. Re crew, and it's derivations, there will be tourists and passengers on spacecraft. Crewless doesn't necessarily imply no passengers.

SpeedW: 10/05/2015 12:05 CDT

Agreed that gender-neutrality is a issue that needs to be addressed, but wonder if funds should be diverted to the issue when lack of mission funding is present within a space agency?

Gene: 10/05/2015 12:22 CDT

I figure uncrewed will work OK; crueless is too close to clueless :-/ But I think to myself of race cars having plenty of crew who aren't with the vehicle. Is an autonomous vehicle really uncrewed? I guess I would've preferred ridden / unridden (riderless), but someone will probably find flaws with that too.

David Frankis: 10/05/2015 12:34 CDT

SpeedW, it's hard to see how any cost (really, is there any cost?) could possibly outweigh the benefit here.

spekny: 10/05/2015 12:41 CDT

Any plans to change unmannedspaceflight.com?

Asteroid: 10/05/2015 12:48 CDT

How about unoccupied?

Messy: 10/05/2015 02:41 CDT

Keep the term "man," as it is the common name for the species Homo sapiens. Men are men and women are men.

Rich: 10/05/2015 02:49 CDT

Shame micheal1955s comment was deleted as it perfectly represented the attitude that these efforts seek to address. Wording wise, I did think "vacant", although that probably has too many bathroom connotations...

Emily Lakdawalla: 10/05/2015 03:40 CDT

@spekny: This is a good question and we've discussed it among the moderators. I advocate a name change, but it has to be a decision taken by the community, not imposed by me -- and then it'll take time for volunteer admins to get around to getting job done (which is mostly on me). @Asteroid: Read the storify; it was suggested. @Rich: You have a point, but those kinds of hostile comments have been shown to polarize conversation and encourage politer people to just leave -- this is why most comment sections on the Internet are garbage. FWIW, I tweeted a screen cap here: https://twitter.com/elakdawalla/status/651121181462953984

Bluemold: 10/05/2015 04:18 CDT

I suggest reserving "uncrewed" for spacecraft destined to carry people, but currently without people, as in test flights. Robotic works fine for craft like New Horizons, Juno, Rostta, etc, although "autonomous" has a nice ring to it, emphasizing onboard independent capabilities.

stevesliva: 10/05/2015 04:55 CDT

Many spacecraft without meatbags are far from autonomous. I don't see the issue with calling them "drone" or "robotic" at the present.

voyagerbuddy: 10/05/2015 07:18 CDT

In my dictionary the term "man" has as its first definition "a human being". This political correctness BS is completely out of hand. Manned is the correct usage for what is being described so why not use it?

PEHook: 10/05/2015 07:40 CDT

"Crewless" sounds a bit too much like "clueless"!

PEHook: 10/05/2015 07:44 CDT

I see that Gene has already noted the crewless - clueless problem! If we have "self-driving cars" on the horizon then why not "self-piloting spacecraft"?

Karen: 10/06/2015 04:18 CDT

@voyagerbuddy What dictionary and what publication date? There has long since been an English language shift toward the concept that it is improper to refer to both the male sex, and all humans, by the same word, with the female sex denoted by an alternative word. This has been reflected very broadly in style guidelines and other publication standards, and follows a corresponding shift in how the language has been used. Dictionary.com has a long usage note in the entry for "man": --- The use of man to mean “human being,” both alone and in compounds such as mankind, has met with objection in recent years, and the use is declining. The objection is based on the idea that man is most commonly used as an exclusive, sex-marked noun meaning “male human being.” Critics of the use of man as a generic maintain that it is sometimes ambiguous when the wider sense is intended (Man has built magnificent civilizations in the desert), but more often flatly discriminatory in that it slights or ignores the membership of women in the human race: The man in the street wants peace, not war. Although some editors and writers reject or disregard these objections to man as a generic, many now choose instead to use such terms as human being(s), human race, humankind, people, or, when called for by style or context, women and men or men and women. See also -man, -person, -woman. --- I think they could have just done one better and simply marked that entry for generic "man" with the tag "archaic".

Goldor0ck: 10/06/2015 04:22 CDT

I would suggest to look for other languages to find some clues. For example, in French, we say "habité" and "inhabité"; I don't know if "inhabited" and "uninhabited" would fit here, but that would get rid of this problem, and it perfectly undestandable by the layperson...

doc: 10/06/2015 05:53 CDT

Was Armstrong wrong in referring to "MANkind" when he stepped out onto the lunar surface? Does anyone honestly think he meant to belittle an entire gender? The answer of course is no. It feels incredibly petty of the spaceflight community to bicker over etymology and the ranking of multiple definitions of one word. It only serves now to alienate the majority of spaceflight enthusiasts, as if their gender had done something wrong and needs to be expunged from the lingo, despite the actual definition of "manned" not even being gender specific to begin with. Google 'manned': >(especially of an aircraft or spacecraft) having a human crew. "a manned mission to Mars"

Gerrit_BR: 10/06/2015 06:06 CDT

Manned refers to Human Being, period. Man as in 'Homo sapiens', 'wise Man'. Never thought someone was going to make an issue of this.

steronydh: 10/06/2015 07:27 CDT

I agree with the comments that "uncrewed" sounds like it's a craft designed for crew that's being flown without one. I think we need different words to describe craft flown with a crew, craft designed for crew being flown empty and for craft that were never designed to have one. Maybe crewed, uncrewed and robotic?

Mewo: 10/06/2015 08:19 CDT

I like "autonomous" for spacecraft without people inside, but I also cannot think of a good word for the reverse. I guess sticking with "manned" is the least bad alternative.

sepiae: 10/06/2015 09:05 CDT

I agree, 'crewed' doesn't really sound right, not only like 'crude', but worse still, a bit like 'screwed'. How about 'staffed'? That is, if we define 'staff' as paid, human operators, not unpaid robot operators. That however might sound a little like 'stuffed.' Which is, given the space within a space vehicle, probably not *that* inaccurate.

sepiae: 10/06/2015 09:07 CDT

p.s. oh b......., just *read* the word 'unstaffed'....

McBeef : 10/06/2015 09:39 CDT

Please consult a dictionary - "man" in this sense has the root meaning of humanity or people in general. Given that the verb "man" means to be staffed by any person or people, and is already gender neutral, this hand wringing is completely unnecessary. I'm surprised the Planetary Society and intelligent people like Emily Lakdawalla are wasting their time on it. One suspects that, much like the ridiculous "shirtgate" twitterstorm, those objecting to terms like "manned spaceflight" must harbour a wilful desire to take offence despite the facts.

AstroTalk: 10/06/2015 10:29 CDT

I prefer robotic and crewed. I doubt we'll ever settled upon a perfect definition but those two are close enouhg. As to the whole question, I'm am 100% for expunging manned and unmanned except when referring to the era when American astronauts were all men (and women were imporperly excluded). It was a manned space program then (as exemplified by the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston) and to retroactively apply a different name clouds what it was, for better or for worse. The writer (as well as the engineer) in me says we should use words that are as precise as possible.

AstroTalk: 10/06/2015 10:31 CDT

And the writer in me really should have proofread that post. ;)

Sean: 10/06/2015 11:12 CDT

As someone with more of an arts/humanities background, but someone dazzled by the space program since my Dad & I used to awaken early to watch satellite launches in the 1950s, I appreciate both this article about our language and the Society’s efforts at inclusion. I was just thinking, after recently joining to post a question about the Dawn probe to Dr. Rayman, how amazing it is to have a person of this gentleman’s stature answer a question. In my arcane, ordinary person, unfunded art research, except for the occasional kind person or institution, it has been my experience that not even important people’s people reply to my letters. On this topic, I agree with Ms. Lakdawalla and prefer the terms ‘human’ and ‘robotic’ but can foresee a day when robots may object. May I offer something along the lines of movie ratings (but not locked to the letters used by the MPAA) as a short-hand for any bio component on board a craft ranging from cellular (G?) to full-bore human (XXX?)? As an example, using the example only MPAA letters, a crashed supply vehicle carrying microscopic samples and lab animals would be a ‘G & PG-13 laden supply ship’. Just a thought…

Emily Lakdawalla: 10/06/2015 12:21 CDT

@doc: You say: "It only serves now to alienate the majority of spaceflight enthusiasts." You are quite correct that the majority of spaceflight enthusiasts consists of men. So let me ask you: why do you think that is? And: Do you think that this is a problem? Because I do. I think that the only way space exploration will have a future in an increasingly diverse society is to add more people to space fandom. Recognize that this is not a zero-sum game; there's no limit to the potential number of space fans. The people who are already here can stay here; let's widen the appeal to more groups, because right now space fandom is demonstrably not appealing to people who are not white or male. Also, asking people to change the language they use is *not* attempting to assign blame for past wrongs. It is very common for people who are in a privileged position to react defensively to being asked to change their behavior for the benefit of others who are not, to take that request as an accusation. Google the concept of "fragility" (e.g. "white fragility" or "masculine fragility") to read more about this. @MacBeef: Believe me, people don't have to go around looking for things to get offended by. It happens all the time, blindsiding you, when you are not a member of the default group. You're just minding your own business, and boom, someone sticks a pin in you. Any one thing is just a little pinprick. But after dozens and hundreds of pinpricks, you can't take any more. Google "microagression" to learn more about this.

Kerbal: 10/06/2015 12:42 CDT

The simple fact is that we need way more fans of space, space exploration, space flight, and the technology associated with them. Let's encourage more people to share our passion of space, no matter who they are.

Nina Serven: 10/06/2015 12:47 CDT

I quite like Gold0rock's suggestion of "inhabited," but I'd like to propose "Earth-operated" as the opposite case. They're clear and both have positive connotations. I like "inhabited" because it conjures images of an actual, dynamic, full life in the spacecraft, instead of simply employees living at their job. "Earth-operated spacecraft" connects our planet (and species, since humans hubristically conflate the planet itself and humanity) with the rest of the universe.

Jonathan McDowell: 10/06/2015 12:53 CDT

Hardly a new issue, I remember arguments about this in the 1980s, but some people are slow to get with the program(me). I usually use 'robotic' and adopt the term 'spaceship' to mean 'spacecraft with humans aboard' - reword sentences to use 'human spaceflight' etc. I find the 'crewed'/'crude' confusion awkward so avoid that one personally. But (per the discussion of drone/robotic/unstaffed/autonomous) there is a slight hole of nuance in the language where 'manned/unmanned' used to be. Once we are all cyborg/AI hybrids, the problem will go away.

Jonathan McDowell: 10/06/2015 12:55 CDT

PS. Was on TV yesterday talking about humans-to-Mars. In setup email correspondence, pointed out to them the need to avoid 'manned'. First words out of interviewer's mouth 'Manned missions to Mars'. Sigh....

Nina Serven: 10/06/2015 01:03 CDT

Also, Emily is completely right that conversations like this are important and that amending our language is essential to build a wider fandom. As a woman and a space enthusiast, I find it very alienating that our language regarding spaceflight is so gendered. "Manned" isn't inclusive. The use of the word "man" as describing the whole of humanity is so far out of common usage, we only ever really hear it when quoting the past. Think about this in relation to language acquisition. Children are used to hearing the word "man" and visualizing a male person, not the whole of humanity. When they parse the phrase "manned spaceflight," they break it down mentally (sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously). "Man" = male. "Spaceflight" = flying in space. So the natural conclusion, explicitly or not, is that manned spaceflight is when male people fly around in space. The term reinforces their societal exposure to astronaut/astronomer/astrophysicist as a "male" career. In order to bring more girls and women into the space fandom, we need to stop using language that leads them to the conclusion that space is for men. We have the ability to be more inclusive- why not actually do it? It takes only a tiny bit of effort from everyone to subtly encourage half of the population into getting into space.

spekny: 10/06/2015 01:11 CDT

The AP and other language authorities use "unmanned" because it is quickly and broadly understood for historical reasons, and their job is to reinforce standards and create consistency. However, language evolves and gets better over time, reflecting changes in the way we use words. These changes take time and are led by popular communicators. In space exploration, they include science fiction writers, science journalists, and their sources at NASA and ESA. Kudos to Emily Lakdawalla for pushing the language to become better and more inclusive. The AP will catch up when they see that a better word is widely used and understood. Searching for that better word is a very practical and useful endeavor -- just what I want to support as a Society member.

Dr Space Junk: 10/06/2015 01:11 CDT

So many little girls out there think they can't be astronauts because it's for boys. I've read of little girls who actually wish they had been born male so they can be astronauts. Language isn't the only reason for this - but it must be a factor. It's interesting that when a problem is raised with 'manned' and derivatives it's making a fuss about nothing; but a problem with 'crewed' and other alternatives is taken as a serious impediment to change.

Glompzilla: 10/06/2015 01:26 CDT

To address the general issue: as a man, I was unaware this was an issue, but I feel it has been adequately explained why it is one. I do not think my being unaware of the effects terminology has, lessens the impact. Otherwise ignorance would be the solution to many other problems as well. I would also like to point out, some people (not just on this site) seem offended that they are searching for a different word for "manned". I think that illustrates another related problem. Many people are discouraged by those who are so eager to defend their "territory", they do not seem to want people "not like them" to "invade" it. Please get over that. If you convinced me that my beard somehow discourages anyone from pursuing a dream they have, I would shave it today. And trust me, it means more to me than keeping the word "manned" should mean to anyone. I also think that the term should be picked, since it is being discussed at all, based on what will have the maximum positive effect on those we are trying to encourage, ALL people who are hearing the word, but especially the little ones, of either sex. Marketing should be included in the debate.

JohnP: 10/06/2015 01:35 CDT

Language evolves as society evolves and so the meaning of "man" has evolved since the 1960s (as used in one small step) and is less often used to define humanity. Indeed, it is better not to, as it is more transparent and accurate if the words "man" and "humanity" have single but different meanings. Spaceflight is an activity that both men and women can clearly both do and be involved in and so it is better to make that clear and use gender neutral terms. There can be many reasons for this: - inclusive, to ensure STEM is considered open to all - accurate, to describe both genders - supportive, the space sector needs the support of all, and isn't helped if half the population might feel excluded. I support "crewed" and "uncrewed" for spacecraft that can transport humans and either do or do not actually have occupants respectively. Automatic craft could be robotic or described as lander, orbiter etc. I was involved in the BIS's Project Boreas and used "crewed" in my paper back in 2006 and support NASA's moves for gender neutral language (about time to be honest) and hope other agencies follow.

Chris Maka: 10/06/2015 01:38 CDT

As a white, male space enthusiast, I have to admit, I don't understand how using different terminology is going to "alienate the majority of spaceflight enthusiasts". There are many phrases that were used years ago that have changed because the language is now offensive (old synonyms for "jury rig" or "dog pile" spring to mind). Language standards change over time; happens all the time. If we can do better and be more inclusive with some simple rewording, then we should definitely do it. No one should feel excluded, left out, or marginalized here. I really don't understand how "Well, I'm not bothered by it, so we shouldn't change it" is a productive stance here. If we can do better, we should. Isn't that part of the argument for going to space in the first place?

McBeef: 10/06/2015 01:56 CDT

So many assertions, such little evidence... Perhaps Emily and others could google the words you apparently wish to expunge from the English language, to learn more. You might realise that you are mistaken in assuming that "manned" refers only to men and is thus a gendered term. It's odd to have to repeat this - I would have thought scientists of all people would be able to comprehend that a word can have several meanings. TBH I would have thought them capable of picking up the non-specific meaning from usage, without needing to consult a dictionary, but I suppose gender feminism (like all ideologies) is a powerful motivator. If despite the fact "manned" is neither defined as nor refers exclusively to men, the issue remains that some women find the word alienating or offputting, well isn't that the definition of "fragility"? I would suggest their problems with misunderstanding words are their own to deal with.

astockham: 10/06/2015 02:12 CDT

peopled/unpeopled

Jason Davis: 10/06/2015 02:34 CDT

I don't understand the dictionary argument. Just because a word is in the dictionary doesn't mean people don't find it offensive or off-putting. As a white male American, I belong to one of the most privileged social classes on the planet. I don't know how it feels to be part of a race that has faced systematic oppression dating back to the founding of our country. I don't know how it feels to earn 78% less than the opposite sex. I don't know how it feels to be ostracized for having a different sexual orientation. So when one of these groups tells me something offends them, I feel I should listen and accommodate rather than reacting with ire and disdain. "Manned" spaceflight is associated with great things that NASA and our country did: Apollo, JFK and all that good stuff. It's also associated with a period decades before America had the courage to send a woman into space. We still have a long way to go before we can truly say men and women are treated equally. So let's help by making one very small change to our language.

stevesliva: 10/06/2015 02:50 CDT

I'll add another white male voice to the chorus of support. At this point, I'm over 10 years into an engineering career and have had basically zero female colleagues. At every step of the way there's attrition, and it's no one thing that does it, so if it's easy to fix something, for godssakes fix it. It's a word. There's no logical reason to mandate it for taxonomy. Logic and language do not intersect well. Both sides argue from emotion. The idea that it's the right word because it's the current standard is a fallacy. If someone coins a new term and promotes its usage, what is the problem, exactly? If you preferred male terms for boats and called your Alma Mater your Alma Pater, why would that be my problem?

JohnP: 10/06/2015 03:30 CDT

As an additional point, it should be noted that gender issues are complex and words like privileged can over simplify. Take the following metric: a) more men than women study STEM Ok, this is something worth working on to improve. But consider the following metric: b) more women than men go to university (in the UK about 40% more) From a) and b) we can deduce that: c) There are many more women than men studying non-STEM subjects. Yes, a) is important but b) and c) are too. Focussing just on a) will not show the whole problem and identify that there are areas where men need support. As well as supporting women studying STEM subjects we should support men in going to uni and studying non-STEM subjects. Just as it is easier to get both genders behind "crewed" than "manned", so it is important to have a discussion on gender that is inclusive and accepts that both men and women can require support.

Antonio: 10/06/2015 03:37 CDT

Is this what NASA wastes his time with instead of sending humans beyond LEO? How depressing...

John: 10/06/2015 04:35 CDT

Just another childish complaint brought to you by individuals who do not see the irony of attempting to impose their worldview on others to replace one they choose to be offended by. Nothing to see here. Move along. Move along. [Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.]

doc: 10/06/2015 05:43 CDT

@Emily Lakdawalla You say: "You are quite correct that the majority of spaceflight enthusiasts consists of men. So let me ask you: why do you think that is?" Why do you think the wrestling or F1-racing audience is primarily male? Why are trainspotters so commonly white males? Where is the barrier that prevents females from trainspotting? Why are *you* not particularly interested in wrestling? Is it the adjectives they use, or is that you're just not that interested? You say: "because right now space fandom is demonstrably not appealing to people who are not white or male." Spaceflight appeals to the STEM graduate, which is highly biased towards white males. Fix that and you'll "fix" your spaceflight enthusiast demographic. You cannot force women to be interested in spaceflight by changing adjectives any less than you can erase the historical African-American perception of spaceflight being an elitist, primarily white endeavor which mocked their socio-economic plight with seemingly pointless and massive spending. I'm sure you're familiar with "Whiteys on the Moon" by Gil Scott-Heron. You say: "Google the concept of "fragility" (e.g. "white fragility" or "masculine fragility") to read more about this." It is alarming to see a representative of the planetary society spreading racist and sexist ideology on an official planetary blog rather than just your own twitter. Racism towards *any* race is unacceptable.

Enzo: 10/06/2015 06:40 CDT

This is really good work, but incomplete. I suggest that we set up a committee to make all English words politically correct and gender neutral. For example "human" contains substring "man" that could be offensive. Also "manager", "manifest". Some scientists should change their name too like, Mandelbrot who has the cheek to have it in "man" in it's name with a capital letter :-)

Emily Lakdawalla: 10/06/2015 07:42 CDT

There are clearly some people here whose minds I will not be able to change, but I hope that there are some among you not yet convinced of the need to change language who have sufficient respect for me to listen and at least consider my point of view when I say that I think this is an important issue, and that many other women do, too; to do some reading and try to understand the points of view of the writers. Thanks to Twitter, over the last two years I've had the opportunity to listen to a much wider variety of people whose experiences are vastly different from mine to reconsider my own stance on the importance of advocating for societal change. At first, I was surprised, dismissive, and defensive as well. I used to agree that whoever can't take the environment, doesn't belong. But through listening, I've learned that the environment really is not the same for different genders or different races. I've recognized that my thinking is clouded by unconscious bias, and changed my mind about many things. I'm tired of being the only woman on a panel, facing an audience that is more than 80% men, fielding questions about "manned" spaceflight and feeling very alone. I've experienced some of the gendered attacks that other women online have experienced. That has made me fear to speak, and I'm guessing I'll be targeted more as a result of this post. But I've watched young women of color suffer frequent insults, intended and unintended, and seen them choose to exit a community that does not support them, taking their skills to private industry, leaving planetary science poorer for their loss. I've decided that part of making a truly Planetary Society is to work to counteract these insults, one at a time.

jetjocko: 10/06/2015 08:23 CDT

Hi! I'm an editor at Wired, and I run a lot of our science coverage. Our house style is to use non-gendered pronouns in cases where we're talking about groups of humans or when we don't know the gender of the person we're talking about. Same policy for titles and jobs--fire fighter, not fireman...mail carrier, not mailman...and so on. Oh, and we tend to use "crewed" and "uncrewed" when we're talking about rockets, though sometimes we describe an uncrewed probe as a robot, even though I know that's not precise. Mostly we like to talk about space robots, because that's a cool idea. But why do we have this style? Why do spend the extra brain power trying to figure out how to write around assumptions? Because we're trying not to be jerks. By which I mean, it's important to us--or, I'll be more precise and say, to me as an editor--to have a wide appeal. I want as many people to be interested in what Wired has to say as possible. I don't people to click away, or throw the magazine down, because they think we're not talking to them--because we seem to imply that all astronauts are (and always will be) men, or white, or whatever. We cover technology, science, and business, and upwellings of the future in the present. None of these things have, by dint of their content, more appeal to women or men, or white people versus people of color. If we write them as if they do, we're doing it wrong. Sometimes we blow it. So we try again. As a language nerd, I find this challenge fascinating. How do we make sure to include the people who want to be included? As a person who would like to stay employed, I want a wide, diverse audience. All of which is to say: The linguistic past is not prologue. Part of covering the future is making it happen. And Emily is right.

Tony Fisk: 10/06/2015 08:39 CDT

People who say that 'man' has a dictionary meaning inclusive to all Humanity would have a valid point, if they chose to leave it at that. (as do those who say that the meaning has changed with time) It becomes clear the agenda is something else entirely when 'nanny state' and 'pc', is mentioned. Anyway, Shakespeare wasn't afraid to coin terms, and neither should we. As for the conversation many wish we weren't having, here are my two cents: - any replacement term should be as readily pronounceable (ie monosyllabic). For this reason, I have never liked the use of 'person' instead of 'man'. If you can get through the oddness of unfamiliarity, 'being' works quite well, (and is even species neutral: First Contact ready!) cf 'spokesman', 'spokesperson', 'spokesbeing' Can we described Orion or ISS as 'embeinged' craft? (We need not clumsily refer to the likes of New Horizons as 'non-embeinged' since that is the default state)

gevmage: 10/06/2015 08:58 CDT

Several of you are (willfully) missing the point. The word "man" or "manned" isn't "offensive". It's just not the right word. Yes, it would be fine to make sure that all of our significant personal pronouns had a gender-neutral equivalent, and to use that when appropriate. That is, in fact, what this article is about. Yes, in an archaic sense, "man" as in "mankind" could sometimes be considered gender-inclusive. But in the same language space where you refer to "man's work" as a specifically male, masculine thing, then that's clearly bollocks and in that sense "man" and "manned" sort of becomes bro code for "huMAN but we REALLY mean MEN, right guys? *nudge nudge*". And that's pretending to use "man" and "manned" as inclusive is dumb and we should find better words.

gevmage: 10/06/2015 09:10 CDT

The point is, I think even the people who are strongly trying to promote gender-neutral pronouns (like yon author) agree that while perfectly descriptive, "crewed" and "uncrewed" are verbally awkward and too easily confused with other words. "Inhabited" and "uninhabited" are even worse. Hmm. How about "complimented" and "uncomplimented". As in "spacecraft's compliment was zero, thus uncomplimented". Nah, too many syllables. Using "souled" spacecraft vs. an "unsouled" spacecraft might actually work, it's short, but unfortunately easily mistaken for "sold" and "unsold". (When you call in a flight plan for an aircraft, you list "souls on board" to distinguish from possibly dead bodies being carried.)

Agate: 10/06/2015 09:24 CDT

Use "Robotic" unless it's a capsule intended for crew, in which case "uncrewed". Insisting that a science writer use only words in the dictionary is insane, given that they're writing about new discoveries, and just plain wrong in the case of "crewed", which appears in the American Heritage, Merriam-Webster, and Oxford English dictionaries (I checked.)

Tony Fisk: 10/06/2015 09:42 CDT

I agree that we shouldn't limit ourselves to 'dictionary' definitions. Most words in common use today were once not in dictionaries and, as I said earlier, Shakespeare rolled his own with little adverse effect. (Capcha can be a good inspiration...) Having said that, we could go the *other* way and coin phrases using the 1000 most commonly used words in English.

Deanna: 10/06/2015 09:43 CDT

Thank you for this post. I have been interested in using gender neutral words since my first days as one of the few women in my engineering office, recording how many "man-hours" I spent designing roads for a project. I looked up gender-neutral terms that day (labor-hours) and have noticed non-neutral words ever since.

Enzo: 10/06/2015 10:05 CDT

Personally, I couldn't care less if missions are called "manned" or "crewed". What I really hate is that, once a PC term is coined, then its use becomes compulsory. If you do not abide then someone will imply you are a jerk, like jetjocko did : "Because we're trying not to be jerks." Or tell you outright. Or suggest to look up "white fragility". Which I looked up and the definition is "White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves" Now if you do not think it's sexist or racist, just think if one just changed the definition by two words (in capital for evidence) "WOMAN Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of GENDER stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves" Do you still like it ? How about one word change ? "BLACK Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves" And, by the way, I AM NOT advocating the phrases above, just showing you how the original is offensive in the first place.

gevmage: 10/06/2015 10:06 CDT

By the way, thanks for the article, Emily. Keep up the great work! The comments on this article seem to be pretty good; several people being constructive, some disagreeing, and only two real trolls. As far as panels; I know what you mean. I do feel awkward when I think of all the kids watching the NASA panels, in our melting pot of a nation, and seeing accomplishments explained by 5 white dudes. And no, that's not offensive, it's just grossly misrepresentative of the constituency of the tax base that pays for NASA, not to mention misrepresenative of the personnel of NASA itself. And so the understate but still clearly stated message from NASA when facing the world is that white men are the people who are in charge. The damage that does is girls watching such press conferences get the subtle push that being called NASA best and brightest is not something that girls should aspire to. That's the problem. It's not one of language, it's one of what people SEE (and hear) that shapes the perception of who does cool stuff. It's not just white men, but if often SEEMS like that's the case. And that should change.

Justin Beach: 10/06/2015 10:08 CDT

I think that all you need to do, to be fully inclusive, is be a little more accurate in descriptions. For example human operated spaceflight, remotely operated spaceflight, fully automated spaceflight etc. Surely even those concerned about 'political correctness' can't object to improved accuracy.

Justin Beach: 10/06/2015 10:26 CDT

The problem with arguing against 'political correctness' is that people who are bothered by PC are generally white and male - which means that they aren't excluded from much. The reality for those who are excluded is that some words are offensive or make them feel like they are not welcome in the club. You do not have to agree but you do need to ask yourself "is keeping this word or phrase important enough to me that I'm willing to offend or exclude people so I can keep using it?" If the answer to that question is "Yes" then you really need to ask yourself why you feel that way.

Elizabeth Tasker: 10/06/2015 10:32 CDT

It is great to see this topic raised on the Planetary Society blog. I agree with comments that "manned missions" were never intended to exclude women. However, there is a large body of evidence that biased language makes a significant difference to the aspirations of young girls and other minority groups. I want to see the very best minds working on today's scientific challenges. Why would we not want to make this clear with a switch to more neutral language?

gevmage: 10/06/2015 10:34 CDT

Quoting Enzo: "...If you do not abide then someone will imply you are a jerk...." Yes. As language moves away from a certain usage because it's out-of-date and no longer accurate, then if you keep using the old language due to (willful or not) ignorance, then people will indeed imply that you are a jerk. Manners change. Acceptabilities change. 50 years ago, it would have been more likely than not for a dinner guest to light a cigarrette inside. Nowadays, in most people's house, you'd be invited to take it outside immediately. As part of the population who's sick and tired of putting up with the horrible awful stink of cigarette smoke, I'm quite delighted with this change. Similarly, as someone who wants my niece to become an astronaut and/or a rocket scientist (she's all for it), I am going to freely correct people who only refer to men as making or flying rockets.

reader: 10/06/2015 10:41 CDT

Expeditions and robotic probes. It's what happens at oceans and remote places on earth. Nobody sails 'manned' or 'piloted' ships around the seas. Space is a tad more expensive and difficult than undersea or polar expeditions, but will not hopefully remain so forever. Don't see why the language wouldnt follow the same patterns either. Look to polar exploration and associated language for useful constructs.

Enzo: 10/06/2015 10:51 CDT

@gevmage, Bad example : smoke actually causes harm. So there is a logical reason to avoid it. You are just making the unproven assumption that women are precluded from STEM by off-puttiing words. This is patently false as many women go into law which is a very rough environment where you must be a person that doesn't get put off easily. So your reason given is not logical, just thought police.

Rocko: 10/06/2015 10:58 CDT

I honestly didn't even consider "manned" to be a gendered word. Like mankind refers to humanity, manned mission is a human mission. The words themselves may have their origins in gender, but whatever gendered connotations they've held in the past certainly no longer apply. In other words, their meaning has become agendered.

Trilobite: 10/06/2015 11:14 CDT

“Crewed/uncrewed” is already seeping into the vernacular, though I agree that non-crew passengers may make this confusing. Perhaps “populated/unpopulated”? Also, as others pointed out, the best source for modern language use is not a dictionary, but a style manual. Any current one will discourage the use of gendered words. Children do not understand the (archaic) meanings of words like “manned”, but they seem to internalize the gendered root. I study geology and always participate in outreach for women/minority students in K-12. Girls consistently remark that they hadn’t considered science as a career. On my last guided hike, one parent confided that she even discouraged her daughter from collecting rocks because “girls just aren’t geologists.” Thankfully, our time together changed her mind. Emily’s blog even inspired me to study planetary after completing a humanities degree, and as it turns out, I’m talented in geology and chemistry. So, it’s not dictionary-obsessed men we need to convince. It’s people like me who need the push!

gevmage: 10/06/2015 11:20 CDT

"You are just making the unproven assumption that women are precluded from STEM by off-puttiing words." You are assuming that language DOESN'T effect people's career paths, which is just as unproven. "So your reason given is not logical" If that's your conclusion I don't think you really understand what logic is. Something happens to girls that makes them think that mathematics/science/compputers/space is not for them. Women enter college in roughly the same numbers as men do, but their participation in science fields is dismally small, frequently as low as 1 in 10 (from my undergraduate physics major class, 2 of 20). Something's convincing girls that science and math is not for them. The question is, what is it? No double a combination of many things. Probably not least of which is the insidious comments of well-meaning older teachers telling them "well girls really don't do that sort of thing" in their young impressionable years. I have believe that a big part of it is also the sort of people that talk about "a man's world" and "men's work" and referring to "manned space flight" as a part of that insidious drum beat of language that says "the best parts of this society are not for you". Something's convincing girls to not go into science. What is it? I don't know, but saying that some girls become lawyers certainly doesn't prove that an ignorant insistence on talking about "manned space flight" isn't a brick in that particular wall.

Enzo: 10/07/2015 12:00 CDT

"You are assuming that language DOESN'T effect people's career paths, which is just as unproven." I am assuming nothing : if you want to force other people to use your own pet words and punish them with insults if they don't, the onus is onto you to prove that it's necessary and it makes a difference. You haven't. Saying "you haven't proved otherwise", it's just the same as creationist's thinking. Authoritarian thinking. "Something's convincing girls to not go into science. What is it? I don't know," So, you don't know it yourself, but must force everyone else to follow your diktat or else. As for the law, it's just an example of a much less friendly environment to women that doesn't put them off. So it seems unlikely that policing other people language will make a difference. Just a counter-example.

doc: 10/07/2015 01:09 CDT

One more thing. You brought up the racialist concept of "white fragility" Emily so I find race relevant to this discussion. Why do you, as a white American, believe you can impose a historically white field of interest on non-whites? The Iraqis suffered through the white-American attempt to impose another western behavior on them: representative democracy. You, as your elected leaders did, are re-enacting the White Man's Burden of spreading science/civilization to the rest of us. It is the height of self-centeredness to assume everyone needs to be like you and it's a problem if they're not. African-Americans have very good reasons to distance themselves from spaceflight, while they struggled to gain legal parity with whites in the USA you seemingly flaunted their malcontent by wasting billions on rushing headlong to the Moon instead of in social programs for the poor (which they were overwhelmingly in need of). Now you think you can trick them into supporting spaceflight with a vocabulary swap? Do you not see how incredibly denigrating that is to completely ignore the historical context of their relationship to spaceflight? Why try to get get Muslims into aerospace so they can also design American drones and bombs? Or does that sound insensitive? Do not dare dismiss my opinion with your American notion of "white privilege". I'm a Tunisian emigré in STEM. Additionally, I am ashamed in your place that you as an educated scientist would choose to post only the most ridiculous troll responses to your twitter, selectively and misleadingly painting any form of opposition to your language games as racist or sexist to the extreme.

doc: 10/07/2015 01:10 CDT

Spelling correction: "Why not try to get..."

Jamie: 10/07/2015 01:24 CDT

I think Occam's principal of economy is worth using here. I think human and robotic sum it up well. Sorry for some of the troll responses, but that's social media.

Antonio: 10/07/2015 02:41 CDT

Due to posts like this one and the one about Phobos mission, I decided to stop following this blog and the PS website altogether. Since this is the intellectual level over here, I'll not waste my time anymore. Time to move on. Nothing to see here.

Karen: 10/07/2015 03:03 CDT

@Emily Lackdawalla " I've experienced some of the gendered attacks that other women online have experienced. That has made me fear to speak, and I'm guessing I'll be targeted more as a result of this post." I just wanted to add... I'm sure that I'm not the only one who immediately recognized the risk you were taking with this post, and appreciated it. Know that though such posts can invite a world of aggression on you from certain groups, they also garner you a great deal of respect from others who know what you risk to post things like this.

JohnP: 10/07/2015 03:25 CDT

Firstly, thanks Emily for raising this as it is an important issue and I'm sorry for all the push-back you (and others) have received. It was sad to hear of a woman feeling she didn't have a place in this exciting industry. Also thanks for all the great updates - your feed is my favourite go-to and you're a huge asset to the planetary society. One problem, however, is the wider gender debate itself. For example, the writer Matt Haig (The Humans) announced on twitter he was thinking of writing a book on gender (neutral) issues from a male perspective. The response was such a wave of abuse (including physical threats) that despite offers from two publishing houses he abandoned the project. Debates about gender issues should be inclusive and supportive of the views and positions of both men and women but often this is not the case, with non-neutral methodologies and selection of metrics. This post started on the subject of naming, and in particular ensuring gender neutral terms. If I wanted to name a gender equality movement I'd call it the Gender Equality Movement (GEM) as in the same way that "manned" introduces gender bias so does "feminism". We can't solve all the world's problems in this thread but I hope we have at least raised the need for gender neutral language like "crewed" and "uncrewed" spacecraft which is a definite step forward.

Lisa: 10/07/2015 03:31 CDT

Thank you so much for writing this blog post, I've just been reading through the Twitter conversations and the one here. I did my physics degree around 20 years ago and by my final year was the only female student left. I chose not to continue with my (then) dream of being an astrophysicist, partly because I was so disappointed that I felt so excluded as a woman. I didn't want to be a pioneer, I just wanted to do a job I loved. So I ended up in 3d animation and eventually games (lol!). And then realised I was never going to get away from that feeling of always being an outsider, or sometimes (even worse, really) being granted an "honorary penis" and treated as one of the guys. I used to feel very angry about "manned/unmanned" terminology, and then I chose not to be. I decided to just think of a woman by default when I heard the term "manned", as a kind of silent protest. But I would love for that word to go away so we can all just enjoy doing what we love without doing that kind of extra work. If "crewed/uncrewed" is clumsy, maybe we need a new word. Maybe "peeped/unpeeped" (as in people) :)

RoseAnniston: 10/07/2015 05:28 CDT

I'm really quite astonished at this post! Everyone knows that manned doesn't mean "men only" and I for one am not a delicate flower that needs language sanitising to get me into science.

PaulFR: 10/07/2015 07:53 CDT

This is a interesting post, Emily, and it's the comments that show why. You see people starting to think about the subject in all directions. Not all the thoughts are pleasant, but the result is fertile. Even my own internal reaction to your post was a firework of contrasting thoughts and feelings. First it started with "what a nonsense!". Isn't language something to be learned? You can without problem explain children that words can have more meanings. If you say "I planted ten bulbs and now I have a little tulip border" nobody thinks that you are talking about light bulbs. As an adolescent I loved the documentary series "The Ascent of Man" by Jacob Bronowski and not a thread of me thought that "man" meant "men". But your experiences and the comments show that there are people, despite their education in language by parents and school, dó read meanings in words that they don't officially have. And what counts is not what should be but what is. And if for whatever reason for a growing group a word starts having another meaning, one that can have adverse effects on life-choices of children, then we should give it attention. And if the solution simply is choosing another word, then by all means let's do it! So I add to the choir of proposals: I like Agate's proposition. She wrote "Use "Robotic" unless it's a capsule intended for crew, in which case "uncrewed". Should the capsule be crewed, simply call it a spaceship. A ship always has people on board.

Messy: 10/07/2015 08:02 CDT

This is about a group of people who WANT to be offended. It's about gaining power by a group who wishes to attack innocent people by claiming they are bigots when they are not. By saying that the term "unmanned" is sexist and needs to be replaced, they are demonstrating their power over everyone else. It's been done before many times and has hurt the English language.

Vikingmars: 10/07/2015 08:11 CDT

Totally agree with Messy (hereabove 10/05/2015 02:41 CDT) : "Keep the term "man," as it is the common name for the species Homo sapiens. Men are men and women are men.". This "gender" debate is becoming ridiculous and in France they tried in primary school -without success- to introduce US-led Gender-ideologies to teach children "neutral" behaviours, telling boys and girls that they are to become later what they want ("sex is a social category/behaviour" rather than "sex makes the gender"). Sorry, but from Europe, this debate is now more and more seen as fueling Islam fundamentalists which consider our Western civilization as "un-natural" and "apostate"...

Stephen: 10/07/2015 08:15 CDT

I think this issue should be filed under the heading "Only In America". Do the Chinese and the Indians (or the French or the Russians) spend time and column inches worrying about gender-neutral language? (The French in particular must have a real problem because gendered language in their tongue isn't just confined to verbalised nouns like "manned"? After all, their pronouns are gendered as well. And as long as NASA is going to spend time and money researching the alternatives to "manned" and "unmanned", I would like to draw attention to another pressing issue: the word ":woman" ("wo(e)-man") and "female" ("fe(e)-male") are surely also in need of de-male-ing. After all, how can MASA excise the word "unmanned" from their (English) press releases yet continue to use such gender-insenstive words like "woman" and "female"? Oh and BTW, just what gender-neutral terms would they use should they ever issue a French-language press release?

Jansob: 10/07/2015 08:24 CDT

It may not be possible to replace "manned/unmanned" with a single pair of terms. The only nongendered terms that have almost all the same meanings and nuances are "crewed" and "uncrewed". They are collective, nongendered, and imply a vehicle or station of some sort. But as many have pointed out, they are awkward, as they sound too much like "crude" and "unscrewed" to most people. "Robotic" or "autonomous" can be used for missions with no people aboard. - robotic spacecraft, robotic probe, robotic cargo ship, robotic lander -autonomous spacecraft, autonomous probe, autonomous cargo ship etc For missions with people, referencing people somewhere in the sentence seems easy and natural. "NASA plans a manned mission to Mars in 2040" = "NASA plans a mission with a crew of 3 to Mars in 2040" "NASA plans to send humans to Mars in 2040" ".......first flight of a manned spacecraft to the Moon since 1975." = ".... first flight of astronauts to the moon since 1975."

Newhorizon: 10/07/2015 08:49 CDT

This is a joke right? Please tell me this is a joke. If the planetary society has been taken over by PC morons and their ideological zealotry, you can count me out.

Jansob: 10/07/2015 09:18 CDT

Although I'm fine with making this change, which is pretty easy, if the Society begins to revolve around SJW topics, I won't be staying. I'm here for the space stuff. This has, in other organizations, ended up being a "good riddance to the people who aren't willing to become gender activists" movement. Let's hope we're not seeing the start of that.

Squirreltape: 10/07/2015 09:30 CDT

Hi. I'm a 43yr old Englishman with two children; my daughter is 9 and my son is 12. I make sure to tread responsibly around language and avoid stereotyping my childrens worldviews in a bid to teach them that they are equals and that the world is their oyster no matter what they choose to persue in the future. However it's a battle when confronted by the differences children naturally display, differences that are obvious when you see how groups children behave on the schoolyard, for example. The first prong of attack to change the world has to take place at home and this needs reinforcing when they are at school. The key here is the word 'teach'. So, 'Crewed/Uncrewed' should be perfect replacements for 'manned/unmanned' if we really want a non-gender-specific way of talking. Anyone raising objections based on, "This word sounds like another word," really needs to rethink their perspective as to what is more important... getting rid of an outdated and misleadingly descriptive word, or, finding an english word that sounds like no other english word?... especially in a language filled with homophones.

Meteoroid: 10/07/2015 10:05 CDT

Hi Emily, Your blog begs up a bit of linguistic history about the use of the word man. When discussing the proper usage of a word I think it is important to understand how that word came to be. The word "man" predates the English language and is shared by many related languages. The ancient use of the word and the modern use of the word in other closely related languages means person. An example of this would be the German phrase "Man Kann" which in English means "one can". Its use to mean an individual of a specific gender is relatively new. So the phrases mankind and manned represent the tendrils of English's ancestors permeating today's language. When first coined whay back when they were not meant as exclusionary. In fact it was quite the opposite, meant to represent everyone! However language changes over time. A word can start to take on an offensive aspect. When that happens it's likely easier to use another one if it happens to also work than attempt to rehabilitate the word in question. We are perfectly capable of using the words crewed, uncrewed, and robotic to describe types of space missions. I think that the ambiguity in using those words will be resolved by the context in which the mission is discussed.

Olaf: 10/07/2015 10:17 CDT

Can those who take offense explain one thing to me: How does seeking language that tries to be *inclusive* of everybody become *excluding* one specific group in your logic? It seem to me the only way you can arrive at "OMG white males are slighted! HOLY WAR!!" on a topic like this is by carefully ignoring the most basic blindingly obvious issue at hand (see above), i.e. being irrational. Guys, if we can't even argue rationally about STEM topics, what else then? This is really bugging me to no end, since every attempt at discussing inclusiveness is going toxic pdq, and yes, it's always those who are already included who are spilling the tox'. As for the topic: "Manned" can refer both to "men" and "mankind", so it is at the least confusing and that is reason enough to avoid it. I think replacing it with "human", as in "human spaceflight" works fine without any ambiguities, so thats not a problem and easy to do. The trouble lies with the other case, I think. Most of the replacements are negatively defined, always with "un-", via something that isn't the case. Defining it positively may be a much better option, e.g. "robotic", except that still does not exclude a robotic probe with humans on board. Which is pretty much what the human rated Dragon spaceship will be, so thats a relevant issue. This might really only be solvable on a case-by-case base: Anything that goes beyond LEO is either a human spaceship or a robotic probe, while Earth orbit transportation is either a cargo ship without crew, or a ferry with crew. Or a passenger ship, just to name some options. Same with more permanent vehicles: with crew: station; without: satellite.

Björn: 10/07/2015 10:45 CDT

To everybody stating that language evolves. Yes it does. By usage and not by decree. What does not change is the history of a language. As several people has pointed out the historic meaning of the word manned does not tell you if the person inside a manned spacecraft is a man or a woman. Now, if there is a need for a better word: let's find one and just use it. If the majority of the users of the language think it fits that need, it will catch on. It is how languages work. Telling people how to speak and write does not change the language in the long term.

Gunnar: 10/07/2015 10:50 CDT

I agree with sepiae; I have been reading "manned" in SF for years and thinking "that's not right". "Staffed" does not have the same audio confusion as "crewed". McBeef's hidebound "Dictionary" argument no longer applies.

McBeef: 10/07/2015 11:23 CDT

So despite the fact that "manned" does not refer exclusively to men - whether we consider etymology, dictionary definition, or colloquial usage - you're all going to insist that it is "exclusionary" anyway. Such insistence on manufacturing grievances where none exist suggests delusions of persecution and/or a desire to promote victimhood narratives. It's really quite sad.

Administrator: 10/07/2015 01:41 CDT

Thank you all for participating in this conversation. We are no longer moderating comments for the discussion so have closed this post to further comment.

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