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Quantum supremacy ‘milestone’ achieved by light-emitting quantum computer

A research team in China has achieved quantum supremacy using a photonic quantum computer….

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In what has been hailed as a computing milestone, a team of researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China has achieved quantum supremacy thanks to a device that can manipulate tiny particles of light.

Dubbed Jiuzhang, the system performed a quantum computation called “Gaussian boson sampling”, which has been shown to be intractable for classical computers. Quantum supremacy is achieved when a quantum device is proven to be able to carry out a task that a classical computer would find impossible, or take too long to complete.

While Jiuzhang achieved Gaussian boson sampling in just 200 seconds, the researchers estimated that the same calculation would take the world’s fastest supercomputer, Fugaku, 600 million years to complete.

Quantum supremacy has only been claimed once before. Last year, Google’s researchers showed off a 54-qubit processor that they said could run a test computation in 200 seconds – a calculation that, according to the research, would take the world’s biggest supercomputers 10,000 years to complete.

Qubits come with unprecedented computational power due to their ability to exist in a dual quantum state, and therefore to carry out many calculations at one. Researchers expect that, armed with enough stable qubits, quantum computers will shake up industries ranging from AI to finance through transportation and supply-chains.

The crux of the challenge consists of creating and maintaining enough qubits to make a quantum computer useful, and there are different ways to do so. The quantum technology developed by Google, for example, is entirely different from Jiuzhang’s set up: the search giant, for its part, is investing in metal-based superconducting qubits.

This is also IBM’s preferred quantum technique, and both tech giants have poured large sums of money into superconducting circuits to push quantum computing research.

For superconducting qubits to remain controllable, however, they need to be kept in very cold temperatures – colder than in deep space. Needless to say, making this practical is still a significant barrier. The extreme sensitivity of qubits to their external environment also means that it is hard to scale up the devices.

Instead of particles of metal, Jiuzhang manipulates photons. The device was built specifically for the quantum task that it carried out, Gaussian boson sampling, which consists of simulating and predicting the erratic behavior of photons.

The task consists of injecting particles of light into a network of beam splitters and mirrors that give photons multiple choices of paths to travel through before reaching different output ports. Photons, however, come with strange quantum properties that complicate the matter: there is no way of knowing deterministically which way they will choose. What’s more, if two identical photons hit the beam splitter at exactly the same time, they will stick together and both travel the same randomly-chosen path.

All of this makes it very difficult for classical computers to identify patterns of photon behavior, and to predict the output configuration of photons based on how the particles were input. The difficulty of the calculation also exponentially increases as more photons get involved, which means that a Gaussian boson sampling device is difficult to scale up.

Christine Silberhorn, professor of integrated quantum optics at Paderborn University in Germany, has been working on Gaussian boson sampling for many years. “The scheme has its own challenges,” she tells ZDNet. “Scaling up the system is hard, because all components have to be engineered for a quantum experiment, and they have to work accurately together. Moreover, it requires the detections and processing of very large datasets.”

The researchers equipped Jiuzhang with 300 beam splitters and 75 mirrors, and said that they managed to measure up to 76 photons during their experiments – enough particles of light to make the calculation intractable for a classical computer.

Cracking the Gaussian boson sampling equation has limited usefulness. For now, in fact, the experiment has done little more than show that Jiuzhang is better than classical computers at solving one very specific task – simulating the unpredictable behavior of photons. That doesn’t mean, however, that a large-scale quantum computer will be built anytime soon to solve real-life problems.

The value of the experiment rather lies in the proof that light-based quantum computers might be just as promising as their matter-based counterparts, which so far, courtesy of big tech’s interest, have grabbed most of the headlines. “This experiment is an important milestone experiment for quantum simulations based on linear optical systems,” says Silberhorn. “It demonstrates the high potential for scalable quantum computation using photons.”

Researchers have recently taken interest in photonic quantum computers because of the potential that particles of light have to remain stable even in uncontrolled environments. Unlike devices based on superconducting qubits, photons don’t require extreme refrigeration, and could in theory scale up much faster.

“The Boson sampling experiment reported by the USTC group is a real tour de force, and illustrates the potential of photonics as a quantum technology platform,” Ian Walmsley, chair in experimental physics at Imperial College London, told ZDNet. “This is a real step forward in developing technologies that harness the power of quantum physics to perform tasks that that are not possible using current technologies.”

The new milestone achieved by the team at the University of Science and Technology of China, therefore, is likely to bring new impetus to the on-going race to build up quantum technologies. Google and IBM are only two examples of deep-pocketed players who have shown interest in developing quantum computers, and a rich ecosystem is growing at pace to bring new innovations to the space.

In addition to industry players, nation states have shown strong interest in developing quantum technologies. The Chinese government, for one, is investing heavily in the field. In fact, Jian-Wei Pan, who led the research team that worked on Jiuzhang, was also behind a recent quantum cryptography breakthrough that achieved quantum key distribution over a record-breaking 745 miles.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/quantum-supremacy-milestone-achieved-by-light-emitting-quantum-computer/

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ZDNET

Tencent Cloud pledges SEA expansion with launch of Indonesia data centre

Chinese internet giant launches its first data centre in Indonesia, with plans to open a second one in the Southeast Asian market as well as Thailand and South Korea within the year, as it looks to build out its cloud footprint across the region.

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Tencent has opened its first data centre in Indonesia, with plans to open a second within months alongside new sites in other Asian markets including Thailand and South Korea. The Chinese technology giant says the investment is part of an “aggressive” plan to build out its infrastructure in the region and tap growing cloud demand.

Located in Jakarta’s central business district, the data centre boasts two utility power lines and 2N redundant transformers as well as N+1 redundant diesel generator with capacity to support up to 72 hours at full load. Tencent’s cloud coverage currently encompasses 27 regions and 61 availability zones, most of which are located in China and the Asia-Pacific, and includes markets such as Singapore, Tokyo, Mumbai, Seoul, Moscow, Toronto, and Frankfurt.

The tech vendor operates more than 40 data centres in China alone, where its cloud business debut was a decade ago. Its international business was launched some three years ago across various regions and currently operates 19 to 20 data centres outside its domestic market.

It added a second data centre in South Korea early this year and, last month, announced plans to launch its first such facility in Bahrain by year-end to support the Middle East and North Africa region.

The latest site in Jakarta would better facilitate access to data and applications for customers in the region and support Indonesian organisations in their digital transformation efforts, said Poshu Yeung, Tencent Cloud International’s senior vice president, in a call with ZDNet. He added that there had been strong online demand across various verticals including financial services, e-commerce, games, education, and media and entertainment.

Tencent itself had seen significant growth for its online services in Indonesia, where its JOOX music streaming app was the second most popular in the country, Yeung said. It also launched WeTV last year, with plans to create more local production this year, and would soon introduce more games for the local market.

Strong demand for its consumer services had further underscored the need for Tencent to build its own data centres in Indonesia, he said, adding that a second data centre would be operational in the country likely in August. This marked the first time the company was launching two sites in the same market in the same year, he noted.

It also should signal how “aggressive and invested” Tencent was bolstering its presence in Indonesia, which he said was one of the leading growth markets for cloud in Southeast Asia. This demand was also evidence in other markets in the region as well as the wider Asia-Pacific, where it saw significant growth last year, he added.

This was despite the fact that the vendor last November had reported “lingering impact” of the global pandemic on its cloud revenue during its third quarter earnings. Tencent then had pointed to delays in project deployment and new customer signups as well as “non-recurring adjustments” to some IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) contracts, which led to a lower growth from its cloud and other business revenue.

Asked to elaborate, Yeung said 2020 was a tough year for many businesses but the cloud market was one of few to see robust growth–fuelled by accelerated digital transformation initiatives–not just for global players, but also Tencent. The vendor’s international cloud business last year had clocked triple-digit growth, he said, noting that this upward momentum was expected to continue this year.

He revealed that Tencent would soon launch a second data centre in Thailand as well as in Japan in June.

Apart from supporting its own business and local enterprise customers, its data centre buildout across the region would tap growth potential from Chinese enterprises looking to expand overseas as well as international companies investing in the local markets.

ZDNet asked if he saw fellow Chinese cloud vendors such as Huawei and Alibaba Cloud, which also were eyeing growth in Southeast Asia, as bigger rivals than global cloud players such as Google, Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft. Yeung noted that the cloud business remained sizeable and there was room for several major players.

He added that cloud providers also often worked together, since enterprise customers increasingly were looking to adopt multi-cloud deployments as part of efforts to avoid being locked into one cloud vendor.

“So there are clear opportunities for everyone,” he said, noting that Tencent aimed to offer added value with SaaS products developed for verticals, such as financial and fintech, media, retail, and healthcare.

The vendor also had a wide ecosystem backing its cloud infrastructure and services, including its WeChat platform, he added.

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Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/tencent-cloud-pledges-sea-expansion-with-launch-of-indonesia-data-centre/

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Blockchain-based Odysee keeps your social media content online

Upload whatever content you want without threat of removal and makes sure it stays online. But you will never be able to remove it – ever.

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Odysee ensures your social media content will not be monitored–or removed zdnet Odysee

If you want to put whatever video content you want online and keep it there without risk of it being removed, the Odysee platform will keep your content on the blockchain permanently.

Created in July 2020, video platform Odysee has grown its user base since its launch in December 2020. The YouTube-like platform hosts video content on the LBRY network. Unlike YouTube there are no moderators, and no safety filters for younger viewers – and the content remains on the blockchain permanently.

People forget – or do not know that once data has been added to the blockchain it can not be changed or removed.

Odysee is built on blockchain technology and ensures that its creators’ channels can never be deleted. When a channel is created, it is recorded permanently in a distributed ledger on the blockchain.

While this seems like a great idea, it could have far-reaching consequences for some content creators years down the line – especially as attitudes change over time. Content creators might be saddled with stupid content that they very much regret as they get older.

Placing video content on the blockchain means that no one entity controls or can change it, making de-platforming impossible no matter how extreme, violent, or untrue the content might be.

Odyssee says that there are about 300,000 content creators on Odysee who upload a wide range of video content across topics ranging from informative to downright odd. Users can view any of the videos for free – unlike other video streaming platforms like Streamanity where the content creator sets the price to view videos.

Its press release in December says that the platform boasts 8,7 million monthly active users, however, Sitechecker reckons that Odysee.com gets less than 10,000 unique visitors per month to get a good result.

Odysee is built using the LBRY protocol which developers use to build apps to interact with content on the LBRY network. The platform’s predecessor LBRY.TV has now been retired in favour of Odysee.

When users upload a video, they deposit a minimum amount of LBC (LBRY Credits) starting from 0.01. 0.01 LBC is less than a cent.

Content creators can set an LBC price to watch the video if they choose. Fans of the video can also tip the content creator if they like the video. Each video shows indicate how many credits they have earned for the creator.

The deposit to upload ensures that the content is registered on the LBRY blockchain and will become discoverable by other users.

Users need to have an Odysee wallet associated with their account, which is viewable once they are logged in. They can also use third-party cryptocurrency wallets to store their cash.

Earnings vary for content influencers. Odysee says that the amount typical influencers make varies, and creators “earn $100 per month all the way up to $5,000 per month” for their uploads.

LBRY Credits are not tied to the price of Bitcoin (BTC), but can be purchased via the app. You can also sell LBC at an exchange for cash.

Users can upload any video they want – which could lead to discussions about what should and should not be allowed and regulated – especially as international conversation around social media regulation is growing.

There are concerns that far-right, or extremist content will find it has a permanent home on platforms such as Odysee, with little moderation or takedown.

Odysee does have some general community guidelines – but its comment “We don’t care what you post for the most part” could encourage posters to push the boundaries.

Guideline number 4 says “It’s the internet, we get it; try not to be overtly abusive and nasty toward other users. This extends to continuously harassing other users, encouraging the slander and defamation of other users, and threatening or bullying others in videos.”

Does this mean that users can occasionally harass other users? The guidelines seem to encourage people to step over the line.

Using blockchain gives users and creators more control over their content. Just like in a bar, users still have to adhere to some terms and conditions such as not inciting violence. They are otherwise are free to post and engage as they would in a public setting.

Odyssey’s alternative to demonetization and deplatforming is delisting, whereby a user’s channel and content remain, but cannot be discovered using search, browsing channels, or other tools. This allows the content to continue to be shared as desired.

Users can issue a command to delist their own content. Odysee itself retains the right to delist extremist or troublesome users. However, the content is not delisted from the LBRY network, but just from Odysee.

There is certainly a lot of interesting content on the platform – as well as the usual conspiracy theories and parody accounts.

Top accounts have hundreds of thousands of support credits, whereas other, less compelling, and downright dumb videos, have earned nothing. Will it become a refuge for extremists and nutjobs? Time will tell.

But for content creators, who want to earn LBC right now, and ultimately convert it into cash from their efforts – without a third party dictating how much they can earn – Odysee could be the platform for them.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/blockchain-based-odysee-keeps-your-social-media-content-online/

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Optus believes telco customers want the ability to disconnect

Telco is adding functionality to its app for customers to pause connectivity to devices.

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Optus Pause: It starts with no

Image: Optus

Customers of Optus will soon have the ability to pause the very product they are paying for — telecommunications connectivity.

The telco has said the functionality available in its My Optus app will allow “our customers the freedom to ensure they enjoy the time that matters most”.

Switching off connectivity will be per device, with a timed period of unconnectedness.

“Optus is pioneering digital and customer innovation through a ‘one click’ solution that works across mobile and home WiFi connections; across Optus connected services and all devices connected via WiFi on Optus NBN plans with the latest Optus supplied modems, on the same account and household,” Optus vice president of TV, content, and product development Clive Dickens said.

“We’ve listened to our customers who’ve asked us to develop a product that gave them a right to disconnect.”

The telco said it would be rolling out the feature progressively to customers.

Customers of a certain supermarket-branded MVNO that uses the Optus network might feel like they have had a preview of the feature for years already.

On Wednesday, Optus claimed it reached a new 5G speed record with 10Gbps aggregated through a live 5G site.

Telstra retorted that it had hit 20Gbps over the weekend.

“Congratulations to Optus but, unfortunately, it’s not a new record,” a Telstra spokesperson said.

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Switching off connectivity will be per device, with a timed period of unconnectedness.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/optus-believes-telco-customers-want-the-ability-to-disconnect/

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