Tag Archives | Computers

First ‘Quantum Computer’ No Faster Than Regular PCs

quantum computingHave they tried rebooting the modem?

The world’s first commercial quantum computer, made by the Canadian company D-Wave Systems Inc., performed no better than a classical computer in a recent analysis.

Quantum computers are thought to be able to solve complex problems thousands of times faster than classical computers, and scientists have been working on developing them for more than a decade. These devices could be useful for modeling quantum mechanics — the realm of physics that describes how matter at the sub-microscopic scale can exist as both a particle and a wave — or for cracking encrypted online information.

A team of researchers compared the performance of a D-Wave Two device to that of a classical computer on a specific set of problems, and failed to find evidence that the quantum computer was faster. [10 Technologies That Will Transform Your Life]

“We do not see any evidence of quantum speedup in the D-Wave device,” said Matthias Troyer, a theoretical physicist at ETH Zurich, in Switzerland, and co-author of the study, detailed today (June 19) in the journal Science.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Computers Will Be Like Humans By 2029

Spike Jonze - Her“Her” here we come! That’s the prediction of Ray Kurzweil, futurist in chief at Google, reports CNBC:

In less than two decades, you won’t just use your computers, you will have relationships with them.

Because of artificial intelligence, computers will be able to read at human levels by 2029 and will also begin to have different human characteristics, said Ray Kurzweil, the director of engineering at Google.

“My timeline is computers will be at human levels, such as you can have a human relationship with them, 15 years from now,” he said. Kurzweil’s comments came at the Exponential Finance conference in New York on Wednesday.

“When I say about human levels, I’m talking about emotional intelligence. The ability to tell a joke, to be funny, to be romantic, to be loving, to be sexy, that is the cutting edge of human intelligence, that is not a sideshow.”

The Oscar winning movie ‘Her,’ which was about a man who fell in love with his operating system, foreshadowed many of Kurzweil’s predictions about how artificial intelligence (AI) will evolve…

[continues at CNBC]

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Computer Knows When You’re Faking Pain

PIC: cryteria (CC)

PIC: cryteria (CC)

It looks like taking a sick day may get a lot harder. A UC San Diego research team says computer programs can tell the difference between genuine pain and fake pain a lot better than human beings:

Via Medical News Today:

They note that in social species like humans, faces have evolved to show valuable information in social contexts, and this includes expressions of emotions and pain.

However, “humans can simulate facial expressions and fake emotions well enough to deceive most observers,” says Prof. Kang Lee, senior author from the University of Toronto.

According to the study, there are two motor pathways in the brain that control facial movement:

  • Subcortical extrapyramidal motor system – which drives spontaneous facial expressions of felt emotions
  • Cortical pyramidal motor system – which controls voluntary (faked) facial expressions.

While humans are unable to consistently spot the subtle differences between the two, the team says a computer can.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Viewing The World Through The Lens Of Artificial Idiocy

road_testVia the Guardian Tom Chatfield on gazing at reality through computers’ data-crunching models:

When Facebook asks me what I “like”, it’s making the convenient assumption that I feel one of two ways about everything in the world – indifferent or affectionate. When it aggregates the results of mine and a billion other responses, marvellous insights emerge. But these remain based on a model of preference that might kindly be called moronic.

Similarly, every measurement embodies a series of choices: what to include, what to exclude. If a computer could learn to recognise images of cats with absolute accuracy, would that mean it knew what a cat was? Not unless you redefined cats as silent, immobile, odourless sequences of information describing two-dimensional images. If a computer could learn to identify you with absolute accuracy via surreptitiously scraped data from your social media presence, phone calls and banking activities, would that mean it knew what it means to be you?

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Inside China’s Internet Addiction Rehab Camps

internet addictionThe New York Times has a short film exploring life inside one of China's hundreds of boot-camp-style treatment centers for electronics-addled youth who spend night and day gaming online, in some cases allegedly wearing diapers to avoid taking bathroom breaks. The camp director compares the internet to "electronic heroin" and warns that the teens "know the internet inside and out, but nothing about human beings." Questions abound: Is China at the forefront of what will become a global epidemic of Compulsive Internet Use? Are computers being scapegoated for problems that are in fact more subtle and complex? Could you survive several months cold turkey?
Continue Reading

The Closing of the Scientific Mind

Pic: Repdan (CC)

Pic: Repdan (CC)

Yale Professor of Computer Science David Gelernter thinks that science as become an “international bully”. You may recall that Gelernter was severely injured after receiving a mail bomb from Ted Kaczynski. Wonder what an open dialogue between these two would have been like had Kaczynski chosen a more peaceable tactic for his activism?*

Via Commentary:

The huge cultural authority science has acquired over the past century imposes large duties on every scientist. Scientists have acquired the power to impress and intimidate every time they open their mouths, and it is their responsibility to keep this power in mind no matter what they say or do. Too many have forgotten their obligation to approach with due respect the scholarly, artistic, religious, humanistic work that has always been mankind’s main spiritual support. Scientists are (on average) no more likely to understand this work than the man in the street is to understand quantum physics.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

NSA Trying To Build Quantum Computer That Could Break All Forms Of Encryption

quantum computingTrying to maintain your privacy? Consider just giving up. The Washington Post reports:

In room-size metal boxes ­secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build “a cryptologically useful quantum computer” — a machine exponentially faster than classical computers — is part of a $79.7 million research program titled “Penetrating Hard Targets.” Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.

The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

Computers Can Be Hacked Using High-Pitched Sound That You Can’t Hear

800px-Sine_waves_different_frequencies.svgGetting pissed off and screaming at your computer still shown to have no effect.

Via Scientific American:

Using the microphones and speakers that come standard in many of today’s laptop computers and mobile devices, hackers can secretly transmit and receive data using high-frequency audio signals that are mostly inaudible to human ears, a new study shows.

Michael Hanspach and Michael Goetz, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Communication, Information Processing, and Ergonomics, recently performed a proof-of-concept experiment that showed that “covert acoustical networking,” a technique which had been hypothesized but considered improbable by most experts, is indeed possible.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

An Atlas Of The Worlds Of Cyberspace

Maps of the physical world are obsolete. The vintage web page Atlas of Cyberspaces offers a strange and wonderful collection of nineties-era renderings of digital geographies – including physical infrastructure, virtual gaming realms, website and surfing structures, flows of communication, and more:

This is an atlas of maps and graphic representations of the geographies of the new electronic territories of the Internet, the World-Wide Web and other emerging Cyberspaces.

These maps of Cyberspaces – cybermaps – help us visualise and comprehend the new digital landscapes beyond our computer screen, in the wires of the global communications networks and vast online information resources.

Some of the maps you will see in the Atlas of Cyberspaces will appear familiar, using the cartographic conventions of real-world maps, however, many of the maps are much more abstract representations of electronic spaces, using new metrics and grids.

cyber

Read the rest

Continue Reading

Pollution Makes Computers Sick, Too

Pic: Pluke (CC)

Pic: Pluke (CC)

Mike Rogoway writes at OregonLive:

The symptoms of industrial pollution are everywhere in Asia, where pedestrians wear surgical masks to filter the air and urban smog is sometimes so thick that Beijing’s Forbidden City is rendered nearly invisible behind a cloak of soot. Just this month, Chinese authorities canceled flights at Beijing’s main airport amid especially heavy pollution, and shuttered highways in and out of the city.

The implications for human health are obvious; studies show that pollution is shortening lifespans in northern China by five years or more.

Intel engineers in Oregon are now discovering that rotten air is also taking a toll on electronics in China and India, with sulfur corroding the copper circuitry that provides neural networks for PCs and servers and wrecking the motherboards that run whole systems.

“We got the board and it was pretty obvious. You open the chassis up and you see blackish material on every type of surface,” said Anil Kurella, the Hillsboro material scientist who’s leading Intel’s research effort.

Read the rest
Continue Reading