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The DEKA arm holds a lightbulb, demonstrating its dexterity. (Veterans Affairs and DEKA)
The DEKA arm holds a lightbulb, demonstrating its dexterity. (Veterans Affairs and DEKA)

Bionic arms, the FCC’s net neutrality disaster and Beats goes on Add to ...

The Segway was a party favour compared to what Dean Kamen has invented now: The DEKA arm prosthetic limb is the first partially mind-controlled bionic limb to be win the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s seal of approval.

The DEKA limb was designed under DARPA’s “revolutionizing prosthetics” program, aimed at replacing the still widely used metal hooks with a human-shaped and human weight artificial arm. The mind-blowing video, below, shows an amputee with the DEKA arm picking up eggs one after the other. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, “electrodes attached to the arm detect muscle contractions close to the prosthesis, and a computer translates them into movement.”

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With FDA approval Kamen’s group can now seek out a manufacturing partner and start shipping the arms to U.S. customers. Our bionic future is nearly here.

FCC doesn’t get net neutrality

The people in charge of setting telecommunications regulations in the United States seem to be sleepwalking their way through a burgeoning backlash. Over the weekend Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission tried to put a positive spin on the most contentious parts of the new and still-not-public proposed net neutrality rules. But his comments show he still doesn’t get it.

Last week, the FCC raised the ire of Internet lovers everywhere with its loose talk on allowing the creation of “fast lanes” for pay-for-play content on the Web. For the people who find FCC talk engaging, they immediately leaped to the realization that in reality this would mean that most of the Internet will be a badly broken “slow lane,” with some speed for wealthy friends of the last-mile providers.

The Wall Street Journal claims Wheeler is now promising – with words, not rules – to be a strong cop against potential abuse without changing the tack of the regulations. That suggests he still thinks a two-tier Internet is just fine as long as everyone agrees to play nice, and that there’s no need to mandate through regulation the prinicple of net neutrality. As journalism professor Jeff Jarvis neatly summarizes on Twitter: “Damnit, @TomWheelerFCC, it’s either neutral or it ISN’T.”

According the the WSJ, Mr. Wheeler’s colleagues at least understand this will not end well. “There is a wide feeling on the eighth floor that this is a debacle and I think people would like to see a change of course,” said another FCC official. “We may not agree on the course, but we agree the road we’re on is to disaster.”

Beats and bites

But there are still thousands of column inches devoted to the meaning of the purchase, whether it is for the music streaming, the team, the marketing and brand, or the headphones themselves. Perhaps the smartest bit of meta-analysis is from Alexia Tsotsis:

“Tech’s future goes beyond engineering. It has to. Dre may not be the world’s first rapper billionaire, but he is a member of a different, very small group: Dre is one of the first founders who started as an artist – and the first musician – to have a tech company exit for more than a billion.” And that is a big deal.

Speaking of billion-dollar startups, there has been much talk recently about Square, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey’s other billoin-dollar valued company. Talk of takeovers by Apple or Google, talk of it having no ability to go to IPO, talk of how its business data may be as valuable if not more as its business. Now, finally, some movement from the heavily scrutinized payments service: it is taking on existing takeout and delivery apps or services with Square Order, a new app that lets you know about nearby restaurants and also order food directly.

There’s too much chatter around Square for us to believe this is the only thing going on, stay tuned for more news on this front.

READER FEEDBACK

These are the tech news stories we’re most interested in this morning, if you want to know more about any one of them we’re happy to dig further (just let us know in the comments or on Twitter @globetechnology). Help direct our coverage!

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