To keep the internet free and open 5

Solid is the technically potent open-source platform built to decentralize the web. Inrupt is the company that’s helping to fuel Solid’s success.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and its subsidiary YouTube are virtual monopolies – and they discriminate against conservative users.

Will someone come to the aid of conservatives?

Yes!  The greatest of all the technological innovators is riding his computer to the rescue: the true knight, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

We quote from a report by Katrina Brooker at Fast Company, a website that specializes in discussion of technological innovation:

Last week, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, asked me [and other reporters] to come and see a project he has been working on … He leads us into a sparse conference room. At one end of a long table is a battered laptop covered with stickers. Here, on this computer, he is working on a plan to radically alter how all of us live and work on the web.

“The intent is world domination,” Berners-Lee says with a wry smile. … But he is not joking.

This week, Berners-Lee will launch Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. … Its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon. For years now, Berners-Lee and other internet activists have been dreaming of a digital utopia where individuals control their own data and the internet remains free and open. But for Berners-Lee, the time for dreaming is over.

“We have to do it now,” he says … “It’s an historical moment.”

Ever since revelations emerged that Facebook had allowed people’s data to be misused by political operatives, Berners-Lee has felt an imperative to get this digital idyll into the real world. In a post published this weekend, Berners-Lee explains that he is taking a sabbatical from MIT to work full time on Inrupt. The company will be the first major commercial venture built off of Solid, a decentralized web platform he and others at MIT have spent years building.

If all goes as planned, Inrupt will be to Solid what Netscape once was for many first-time users of the web: an easy way in. And like with Netscape, Berners-Lee hopes Inrupt will be just the first of many companies to emerge from Solid.

“I have been imagining this for a very long time,” says Berners-Lee. …

[He shows us how] on Solid, all the information is under his control. Every bit of data he creates or adds on Solid exists within a Solid pod … These pods are what give Solid users control over their applications and information on the web. Anyone using the platform will get a Solid identity and Solid pod. This is how people, Berners-Lee says, will take back the power of the web from corporations. …

Berners-Lee believes Solid will resonate with the global community of developers, hackers, and internet activists who bristle over corporate and government control of the web. …

Developers around the world will be able to start building their own decentralized apps with tools through the Inrupt site. Berners-Lee will spend this fall crisscrossing the globe, giving tutorials and presentations to developers about Solid and Inrupt. (There will be a Solid tutorial at our Fast Company Innovation Festival on October 23.)

“What’s great about having a startup versus a research group is things get done,” he says. …

It’s not likely that the big powers of the web will give up control without a fight.

When asked about this, Berners-Lee says flatly: “We are not talking to Facebook and Google about whether or not to introduce a complete change where all their business models are completely upended overnight. We are not asking their permission.”

Game on.

 

(Hat-tip to liz)

Posted under Technology by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, October 2, 2018

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The Travelling Wave 12

A socialist society is a stagnant society. And stagnation is a terminal illness of powers and peoples.

Invention springs from one brain, even if the development of it is advanced by other brains. A committee, a commune, a community, a jolly gathering of drinking chums will never do it.

Not only is there no incentive under socialism for an inventor to invent, there is also a lack of what he (have you noticed an inventor is always a “he”?) needs to do it: spare money, spare time, and above all freedom. No one interfering with him, no one saying you may or may not do this or that. No one directing him how to use his time. No one sharing his facilities and tools.

Only freedom fosters innovation.

Look how little in the way of important invention has come out of socialist Europe since WW2. It’s not because Europeans can no longer invent, it’s just that they have to go to non-socialist countries to do it. (Vide Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the Briton who invented the World Wide Web – in capitalist Switzerland.)

Fortunately in America, despite Obama’s efforts to turn the United States into Big Sweden, there are still some of the right conditions – some freedom and capital and incentive – for invention. But already ideas conceived in America need to be taken elsewhere for their development. Where? Shamefully, to communist China, because it has a freer economic system, less government regulation, and no pestilential environmentalist lobby. 

Here’s the story of an American inventor and his idea, from an article by Carl Shockley in the National Review:

An extraordinary pair of events occurred this week. They concerned the future of energy and two of the world’s richest men, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. No one took much notice but they have remarkable implications for the future of the American economy.

First, Gates returned from a secret visit to China where, it was revealed in the Chinese press, he struck a deal with the Chinese National Nuclear Corporation to develop the Travelling Wave Reactor, a highly innovative technology that Gates has been developing with his spin-off company, TerraPower.

The Travelling Wave is a profoundly sophisticated technology that, thus far, exists only on paper. The idea is this: First, you design a fuel assembly in the shape of a long cigar, so that it burns slowly end-to-end. The uranium first “burns,” producing heat and electricity and transforming into plutonium and other highly radioactive isotopes in the process – creating what is usually called “nuclear waste.” But this is no “waste,” as the design of the reactor then allows the plutonium to “react” with itself as well, producing another round of nuclear fission and burning up the “waste” fuel in the process. By the time the “wave” has travelled end-to-end it will have generated up to 1000mW or more of electricity for a century with no refueling and very little waste remaining at the end of the process.

The Travelling Wave is the brainchild of Nathan Myhrvold, the legendary chief of research at Microsoft who, a decade ago, founded his own company, Intellectual Ventures, to research futuristic technology. Myhrvold settled on the Travelling Wave as the wave of the future and convinced Gates to fund TerraPower in order to develop it. The company is now working on the design with the aid of “1,024 Xeon core processors assembled on 128 blade servers,” which is a cluster that has “over 1,000 times the computational ability as a desktop computer,” according to its own report. TerraPower President John Gilleland estimates that a demonstration model can be assembled within ten years, with commercialization in 15.

But where to do all this? Developing nuclear technology in the United States means squeezing through the portals of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, that 11-story building in Beltsville, Md., that serves as corporate headquarters and clearinghouse for all new ideas in the nuclear industry. Right now, NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko is complaining he doesn’t have enough staff to conduct license-renewal applications for aging reactors such as Vermont Yankee and New York’s Indian Point (which will conveniently allow him to postpone these contentious issues until after the 2012 election, thereby protecting President Obama’s environmental flank). Getting approval from the NRC to build anything new is basically a lost cause. …  Several start-up companies have been trying to commercialize small-modular reactors but so far they have barely managed to get a foot in the door at the NRC.

So where to go with your revolutionary ideas? Why, China, of course! There they don’t have a mandarinate bureaucracy or hordes of environmental lawyers waiting to oppose your every move. So Gates has taken his pet idea to China — which means, of course, that if the Travelling Wave ever becomes a reality, China will be manufacturing them.

But wait — don’t we have “alternative technologies” that are going to make all this fossil fuel and nuclear stuff unnecessary? That’s what Warren Buffett thinks. Last week his MidAmerican Energy Holdings plunked down $2 billion to buy the 550-megawatt Topaz Solar Farm in the Central Valley of California. This is one of those projects in which about five square miles of photovoltaic panels are deployed in order to produce slightly less electricity than the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear facility — and only when the sun shines. During the night, when nuclear power just about runs the whole country, we’ll have to try something else.

Is Buffett riding the wave of the future? Does he see something that Gates and others don’t recognize? Well, not really. What he is perceiving most clearly is the array of federal and state subsidies, plus California’s “renewable portfolio standard” that requires utilities to build and buy solar electricity regardless of whether it’s reliable or even needed. … Even if these projects produce off-and-on electricity at four times the price of today’s power, they will be guaranteed a profit.

Under redistributionist big-government regimes there is always Obama-type “crony-capitalism”, which is not capitalism but the destruction of it.

We may soon see a wave of American inventors emigrating to anomalous China where, among other favorable conditions, fossil-fueled and nuclear power will reliably provide the energy to drive progress.

 

(Hat-tip Andrew M for the link)

How socialism will bring stagnation to the US 0

Hullo socialism, good-bye innovation. Socialism crushes inventiveness, as it purposefully does all private enterprise. Nothing new of any importance has come out of continental Europe since it turned socialist.

In Britain where the first Industrial Revolution took place, yes, there is still a remnant of the old inventive genius at work, though it’s slowly dying. Out of Britain has come one big new thing – the world-wide web, invented by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, blessings be upon him. (NOT by Al Gore, who claimed he invented it, but could not, we believe, invent a hand fan for a breeze.) 

To invent, men need not only their ideas but also a superfluity of time and money, even if they do it in their own garages as so many did in the Second Industrial Revolution in Silicone Valley. (I say men because women have invented sweet blow-all.) Free time and extra money, and the incentive of gaining great riches, are among the great benefits that only capitalism can bestow.  

Now that socialism is coming to the United States, incentive, opportunity and the urge to innovate will start to wither. Nationalized health care, for instance, will mean the stagnation of medical research. Will the billions needed to develop a new drug come from the state when the state is the only buyer?

The only sphere in which innovation has worked well under state control is the military. That was because American leaders have taken defense, the paramount responsibility of the state, very seriously. But now America has a president who believes that the nation is over armed – and should aim at totally giving up its nuclear defenses. Obama reckons, we are told, that if America castrates itself in this way, other nations will be so impressed by its ‘moral leadership’ that they too will give up the nuclear weapons they have, or the wish to obtain them. Either he really believes this sentimental hogwash or his motive is much darker and more sinister.

Michael Barone writes in Townhall:

Most people in the rest of the world are free riders on the productivity and ingenuity of the American military and American medicine. They get the benefits of American military protection and American medical innovation without paying, or without paying in full, for them. 

This has been the case all through the six decades after the Second World War. The American military has protected democracies from Communist expansion and today protects people all over the world from Islamist extremists. They get this service, if not free of charge, then at reduced rates. American taxpayers have been spending 4 percent of gross domestic product on our military and during the Cold War paid twice that share. NATO and most other allies spend significantly less.

American administrations of both parties have tried to get others to spend. But this is Sisyphus’s work. We are entitled to take pride in the fact that, in the spirit of “From those to whom much is given much is asked,” we are able to do so much for others.

Unfortunately, the Obama administration wants to do less. Defense has been scheduled for spending cuts. We are halting at lower than scheduled levels production of the F-22 fighter, whose brilliant advanced design is intended to assure American control of the skies for decades to come. The administration also seems to be scaling back missile defense, which could protect friends and allies from nuclear attack and over time might discourage nuclear proliferation…

We also may be at risk of squandering our high-tech advantage in medicine. As Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution points out, the top five American hospitals conduct more clinical trials than all the hospitals in all other developed countries. America has outpointed all other countries combined in Nobel Prizes for medical and physiology since 1970.

American theoretical health research financed by the National Institutes of Health and by American market-oriented pharmaceutical companies outshines the rest of the world combined. And the rest of the world tends to get the benefits at cut rates… 

Pharmaceutical companies that produce benefits for patients and consumers get the profits that support their research disproportionately from Americans, because other countries refuse to spend much more than the cost of producing pills, which is trivial next to the huge cost of research and regulatory approval. Getting these free riders to pay more is, again, Sisyphus’s work.

The Democratic health care bills threaten to undermine innovation in pharmaceuticals and medical technologies by sending those with private insurance into a government insurance plan that would be in a position to ration treatment and delay or squelch innovation. The danger is that we will freeze medicine in place and no longer be the nation that produces innovations that do so much for us and the rest of the world.