Put an end to blindness, bullshit, copyright laws and Time Warner's dark hegemony? Sure: the top tech stories of the week are all about the death of things that Web nerds hate--and that includes Bing, whether you like the idyllic backgrounds or not.
Intel's "Bullshit Filter"
VentureBeat reports that a research team at Intel just launched a tool called "Dispute Finder" that lets you see when something you're reading contains controversial or disputed information. VB has kindly dubbed it the Bullshit Filter for its ability to eliminate misinformation and provide true parity between nonsense and evidence.
The project is being developed in conjunction with a research team at UC Berkeley (above), where developers have created a Firefox plug-in that will highlight information that might deserve another perspective. It doesn't do this by any algorithmic wizardry--it's user-driven, and it allows anyone to flag controversial text and submit a contrapuntal source. Check out how it works in the video below.
The Governator's Other Accent
If you had to guess what Arnold Schwarzenegger's day is like, you'd probably think it involved meetings, stumping, speeches, and policy edits. Little do you know, dear reader, that he still manages to squeeze in the occasional movie cameo. This now-viral deleted scene from the last Terminator movie may change the way you look at the Governator since he became the Governator.
You can also check out Fast Company writer Mark Borden's interview of Terminator: Salvation director McG here:
Are Weak Copyright Laws Better for Innovation?
A musician friend of mine was in despair lately over the ubiquity of music piracy, saying that it stifled innovation. Being the Internet libertarian I am, I suggested to him that looser copyright restrictions don't necessarily restrict creativity--creatives will create no matter the conditions--and that losing tight copyright control might only hurt the middlemen at the record companies. (Whether or not that is a good or bad thing is debatable.)
Now, I have Harvard research to back up my argument: a newly released Harvard Business School working paper called "File Sharing and Copyright" details the many positive aspects of our present, Wild Western system of illegal music distribution. Read it here.
New "Screw Time Warner Bill" Needs Your Support
There's a new bill in the House of Representatives that would allow the FTC to reject any bandwidth caps that your ISP might try to place on your account. After Time Warner pilot-tested a capping program earlier this year, the company later killed it because of public outrage--but that doesn't mean users have seen the end of usage-based billing. Below, the Time Warner Center building in New York.
If you care about the free and easy use of YouTube videos, Hulu shows, iTunes downloads, Web conferencing, video chatting, and all other data-intensive Web habits, give your representative a call and tell them to co-sponsor representative Eric Massa's (D-NY) Broadband Internet Fairness Act. To read more, check out yesterday's post on the bill. You can read the text of the act here.
Will Stem Cells End Blindness?
A stem cell therapy for degenerative blindness may go into the human testing phase in the next few months if it passes muster with the FDA. The therapy has proven efficacious in animals, but the challenge will be to prove that the cells are safe; embryonic stem cells have the potential to grow into any kind of human cell, including cancer. (Below, a stem cell in action, deciding what to become.)
There are also issues with cell rejection, so prospective patients would have to be put on severe immunosuppressants--another dangerous caveat. Still, a biotech company called Geron recently received approval for the use of stem cells to remedy spinal-cord injuries in human patients, so prospects are looking good.
[Via Technology Review]
Got an iPhone to Sell? Join the Club
A lot of current iPhone owners may be looking to upgrade to the iPhone 3G S when it is released on Friday. That'll mean a glut of used iPhones--but no one wants to junk their beloved device, and eBaying is too much of a hassle. So where is a decommissioned iPhone to go?
According to The New York Times, they go to a group of specialized dealers who are making their bread on turning over the used smartphones of the tech-obsessed. The dealers--which include Gazelle and Flipswap--say they're about to see an uptick in trade-ins. The companies give about $200 for a good-condition 16GB iPhone 3G, although with the $99-with-contract iPhone about to drop, those rates may drop substantially.
[Via The New York Times]
Will Bing Lose to the House?
A new piece in the Silicon Valley Insider calls Microsoft's titanic investment in Bing a losing gamble. The subtly-titled piece called "Steve Ballmer is Making a Bad $10 Billion Bet" evaluates the dubious wisdom behind CEO Steve Ballmer's investment in Bing; he has said he will allocate 5% to 10% of Redmond's annual operating income on the search project over the next five years. (Below, Ballmer deep in thought over Bing's future.)
That's somewhere between $6 billion to $12 billion clams for a business that is only nominally new and has done nothing but hemorrhage money for the last decade. Read the piece to hear writer Henry Blodget's excellent IPO metaphor: would you invest in Bing if it were a discrete company, based on the evidence? The answer, of course, is no.