Posts Tagged ‘Northwestern University’

Storytelling can be patented

typewriter

credit: mpclemens via flickr(cc)

We already knew that computers, equipped with proper algorithms, could write stories pretty much indistinguishable from the work of professional journalists working under deadline pressure. And had I been paying attention, I’d know that the company behind this, a “spinout” from Northwestern University, is also moving into other “turn data into a story” tasks, which from the examples here seem to mainly focus on financial reporting, tho it also appears that buyers of used cars can be exposed to “automated and individualized vehicle stories” (pdf) about their cars, which presumably helps sales. And it’s no secret that In Q Tel, an affiliate of your Central Intelligence Agency, is one of several investors behind the company.

So, it’s technology, it’s government, it’s marketing– why am I surprised that it’s protected by a bunch of patents on different variations on “automatic generation of a story?” Here I am, using a computer with many automatic functions to generate a sort of story about this company, and I really haven’t time to read and try to understand all their patents. I guess I better stop before I get in more trouble.

h/t Crain’s.

The Wealth Defense Industry

Wonderful phrase; wish I had thought of it.  It’s Jeffrey Winters’ term for the pile of lawyers and others who contrive technically-legal ways for wealthy people to avoid paying most of the tax for which they would otherwise be liable. His recent book, Oligarchy, seems to have a lot of other details we haven’t seen elsewhere.

All I actually know about Winters and his work comes from this interview, broadcast this afternoon on WBEZ. I did note one error: The U S federal income tax imposed in 1894 was the second, not the first, which was in  1861. He seems to have compiled a lot of data that we don’t usually see (some of it presented in this pdf article).  Naturally, altho his work is descriptive, he is asked about the potential for the Occupants or other movements to alleviate the oligarchs’ control.  One wishes that he had mentioned the importance of taxing privilege, instead of production. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with the concept.