Sophisticated tool removes burden of choice

Rarely do entertainers take the position that the world is awash in too much entertainment. But that’s the premise of a new Website called TheFilter.com backed by Peter Gabriel and U.K. firm Eden Ventures.

The site, which cost about $8.5 million to develop, launched April 15 in a beta version. It aims to bow commercially in the coming months, deriving revenue partly from ads and partly from fulfillment services for partners like Nokia and U.K. music company the Ministry of Sound.

Filter takes the algorithms used by Amazon.com and Netflix to a new level. Combining social networking, downloadable music, Web videoclips and movie and TV databases, the site touts itself as the most sophisticated tool yet for those wanting hyper-personalized entertainment.

“One of the many joys of the Internet would be freedom of choice, but many of us are now drowning in an ocean of options,” Gabriel says. “An intelligent filter can remove the burden and boredom of choice. ”

The pop star is famous for unorthodox detours, though he will be back in the mainstream this summer with the end-credits song on Disney/Pixar’s “Wall-E.”

The site’s underpinnings rely on a form of artificial intelligence called Bayesian mathematics. And it gets smarter the more information it gets. Sign up hundreds of friends, a la Facebook, and their recommendations enter the mix. Plug in credit card info and each purchase will be tracked and unexpected connections made.

The user experience is breezy: A sliding scale pops up for each item searched or recommended. As with Apple’s iTunes, it seeks user ratings, only with percentages instead of stars.

Backers of the site, Gabriel chief among them, see unlimited potential for the Filter.

“We’re sticking with entertainment for now,” says chief exec David Maher Roberts. “But Peter travels a lot and he says he can envision the Filter telling him where to go to eat when he turns up in Barcelona.”

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