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We'll kill spam in two years – Gates

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Bill Gates yesterday outlined a three-stage plan to eradicate spam within two years.

Microsoft's scheme calls for better filters to weed out spam messages and sender authentication via a form of challenge-response system. Secondly, Microsoft wants to see to a form of tar-pitting so that emails coming from unknown senders are slowed down to a point where bulk mail runs become impractical.

Lastly, and most promisingly as far as Gates is concerned, is a digital equivalent of stamps for email, to be paid out only if the recipient considers an email to be spam.

Of these ideas only the last offers a radical departure from schemes already on offer. Gates places huge faith in the power of the market to rid the world of junk mail, even offering a hostage to fortune.

"Two years from now, spam will be solved," Gates told delegates to a World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland last weekend, AP reports.

"In the long run, the monetary (method) will be dominant," Microsoft's chief software architect predicted.

Doubtless Microsoft will be looking for a slice from this lucrative new revenue stream, so we can see why the world's largest software company is so keen on the idea.

Previously Gates has emphasised the important of user education, legislation and enforcement of anti-spam laws in tackling the spam menace. There was little mention of those points last weekend as Gates looked to technology in delivering a spam-free future.

Such heady predictions. It must be the mountain air.

In fairness, Gates conceded some of his previous predictions - such as predicting Microsoft would trump Google in Internet search - had fallen short of the mark.

Google has "kicked our butts", he said. ®

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