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Do You Celebrate/Acknowledge Pi Day?

  • Yes
  • No
  • No, because tau is the true circle constant, so get back to me in June
  • Yes, but I didn't start until I heard people grousing about tau
  • I don't know what you people are talking about

[ Results | Polls ]
Comments:24 | Votes:92

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16, @11:51PM   Printer-friendly

The US government looks poised to force tech companies to do more about security:

The US government, worried about the continuing growth of cybercrime, ransomware, and countries including Russia, Iran, and North Korea hacking into government and private networks, is in the middle of drastically changing its cybersecurity strategy. No longer will it rely largely on prodding businesses and tech companies to voluntarily take basic security measures such as patching vulnerable systems to keep them updated.

Instead, it now wants to establish baseline security requirements for businesses and tech companies and to fine those that don't comply.

It's not just companies that use the systems who might eventually need to abide by the regulations. Companies that make and sell them, such as Microsoft, Apple, and others could be held accountable as well. Early indications are that the feds already have Microsoft in their crosshairs — they've warned the company that, at the moment, it doesn't appear to be up to the task.

[...] In theory, if those standards aren't met, fines would eventually be imposed. Glenn S. Gerstell, former general counsel of the National Security Agency, explained it this way to the Times: "In the cyberworld, we're finally saying that Ford is responsible for Pintos that burst into flames, because they didn't spend money on safety." That's a reference to the Ford Pinto frequently bursting into flames when rear-ended in the 1970s. That led to a spate of lawsuits and a ramp-up in federal auto safety regulations.

But cybersecurity requirements backed by fines aren't here yet. Dig into the new document and you'll find that because the new strategy is only a policy document, it doesn't have the bite of law behind it. For it to go fully into effect, two things need to happen. President Biden has to issue an executive order to enforce some of the requirements. And Congress needs to pass laws for the rest.

It's not clear when lawmakers might get around to moving on the issue, if ever, although Biden could issue an executive order for parts of it.

[...] So, what does all this have to do with Microsoft? Plenty. The feds have made clear they believe Microsoft has a long way to go before it meets basic cybersecurity recommendations. At least one top government security official has already publicly called out Microsoft for poor security practices.

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly recently criticized the Microsoft during a speech at Carnegie Mellon University. She said that only about one-quarter of Microsoft enterprise customers use multifactor authentication, a number she called "disappointing." That might not sound like much of a condemnation, but remember, this is the federal government we're talking about. It parses its words very carefully. "Disappointing" to them is the equivalent of "terrible job" anywhere else.

[...] Even without laws and executive orders, the company could be in trouble. The US government spends billions of dollars on Microsoft systems and services every year, a revenue stream that could be endangered if Microsoft doesn't adhere to the standards.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16, @09:10PM   Printer-friendly

If you can detect any, it's too much:

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it had started the process that will see drinking water regulations place severe limits on the levels of several members of the PFAS (perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) chemical family. PFAS are widely used but have been associated with a wide range of health issues; their chemical stability has also earned them the term "forever chemicals." The agency is currently soliciting public feedback on rules that will mean that any detectable levels of two chemicals will be too much.

PFAS are a large group of chemicals that have uses in a wide range of products, including non-stick cooking pans, fire control foams, and waterproof clothing. They're primarily useful because of their water-repellant, hydrophobic nature. That nature also tends to keep them from taking part in chemical processes that might otherwise degrade them, so contamination problems tend to stick around long after any PFAS use. And that's bad, given that they seem to have a lot of negative effects on health—the EPA lists cancer risks, immune dysfunction, hormone signaling alterations, liver damage, and reproductive issues.

[...] The most striking thing about the proposal is that two of the chemicals, Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) will be set at the limits of our current ability to detect them: four parts per trillion. In other words, if there's any sign of the chemicals present, it would be above the legal limit. (Both of these are acidic hydrocarbons where all of the hydrogen has been replaced by fluorine.)

A second set of related chemicals (PFNA, PFHXs, PFBS, and GenX Chemicals) will be regulated as a collective. Each will have limits set on the levels allowable. The levels of each will be calculated as a percentage of that limit, and the percentages totalled; if they exceed 100 percent, then the regulations will kick in.

As part of its earlier efforts, the EPA has already been providing grants to help water utilities set up to test for these chemicals. It also says that a variety of means of extracting these chemicals from water are now available.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16, @06:24PM   Printer-friendly
from the welcome-future-dystopian-AI-overlords dept.

Things are moving at lightning speed in AI Land. On Friday, a software developer named Georgi Gerganov created a tool called "llama.cpp" that can run Meta's new GPT-3-class AI large language model, LLaMA, locally on a Mac laptop. Soon thereafter, people worked out how to run LLaMA on Windows as well. Then someone showed it running on a Pixel 6 phone, and next came a Raspberry Pi (albeit running very slowly).

If this keeps up, we may be looking at a pocket-sized ChatGPT competitor before we know it.
For example, here's a list of notable LLaMA-related events based on a timeline Willison laid out in a Hacker News comment:

DuckDuckGo's New Wikipedia Summary Bot: "We Fully Expect It to Make Mistakes"
Robots Let ChatGPT Touch the Real World Thanks to Microsoft (Article has a bunch of other SoylentNews related links as well.)
Netflix Stirs Fears by Using AI-Assisted Background Art in Short Anime Film
Paper: Stable Diffusion "Memorizes" Some Images, Sparking Privacy Concerns
The EU's AI Act Could Have a Chilling Effect on Open Source Efforts, Experts Warn
Pixel Art Comes to Life: Fan Upgrades Classic MS-DOS Games With AI

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16, @03:34PM   Printer-friendly
from the turning-ploughshares-into-swords dept.

Violence and warfare were widespread in many Neolithic communities across Northwest Europe:

Of the skeletal remains of more than 2300 early farmers from 180 sites dating from around 8000 – 4000 years ago to, more than one in ten displayed weapon injuries, bioarchaeologists found.

Contrary to the view that the Neolithic era was marked by peaceful cooperation, the team of international researchers say that in some regions the period from 6000BC to 2000BC may be a high point in conflict and violence with the destruction of entire communities.

The findings also suggest the rise of growing crops and herding animals as a way of life, replacing hunting and gathering, may have laid the foundations for formalised warfare.

[...] More than ten per cent showed damage potentially caused by frequent blows to the head by blunt instruments or stone axes. Several examples of penetrative injuries, thought to be from arrows, were also found.

Some of the injuries were linked to mass burials, which could suggest the destruction of entire communities, the researchers say.

Journal Reference:
Linda Fibiger, Torbjörn Ahlström, Christian Meyer, and Martin Smith, Conflict, violence, and warfare among early farmers in Northwestern Europe [open], PNAS, 2022. DOI:

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Thursday March 16, @12:53PM   Printer-friendly
from the charging-into-the-future dept.

This includes hydrogen fuel stations:

[...] The Department of Transportation is now accepting applications for its $2.5 billion Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Discretionary Grant Program, which will hand out funds to cities, counties, regional governments and tribes to help deploy EV chargers, hydrogen fuel stations and other reduced-emissions systems near their residents.

Half of the program's funding will go to chargers and stations in "publicly accessible" places like parking facilities, parks and schools. The rest will install this equipment in "alternative fuel corridors" along highways to help with long-distance travel. The initial round of funding will make $700 million available, with the rest coming over the program's five-year span. Officials have to apply no later than May 30th.

The initiative is part of [a] broader campaign to build 500,000 charging stations by 2030, or about five times as many as there were in early 2022. The money, assigned as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, is meant to ensure charging access within 50 miles of someone's location in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. While the effort is intended to spur overall EV adoption, there's an added focus on underserved communities like some urban and rural areas.

A strong charging infrastructure is widely considered vital to successfully transitioning away from combustion engine cars. Existing stations can sometimes be crowded or unreliable, and don't always support the fast charging available with recent EVs.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 16, @10:08AM   Printer-friendly

The Biden administration wants $27.2 billion for NASA's 2024 budget, with the space agency prioritizing Moon and Mars missions:

NASA is staying focused on the Artemis lunar program, its Moon to Mars objectives, and maintaining a presence in low Earth orbit as part of the agency's proposed budget for 2024. The space agency also has a new item on its annual wishlist: a space tug to deorbit the International Space Station (ISS) at the end of its life.

[...] NASA's proposed budget includes $180 million for developing a deorbit capability for the ISS by the end of 2030. Should the budget be approved, the space agendcy would call upon the private sector to come up with a space tug concept to lower the orbit of the ISS so that it can reenter and burn up through Earth's atmosphere. NASA had previously suggested using Russia's Progress cargo spacecraft to deorbit the ISS, and apparently that option is still on the table as well.

[...] Still, NASA's Artemis program sits at the top of the space agency's to-do list, snagging $8.1 billion from the budget (an increase from last year's $7.5 billion). The plan still stands for NASA to land humans on the Moon as early as 2025, and start on the construction of the Lunar Gateway, an outpost orbiting the Moon that will house astronauts and scientific research.

The budget request will allocate $2.5 billion towards the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which was used for the liftoff of the Artemis 1 mission in November 2022, "to focus on successful completion of Artemis 2, and make necessary preparations for Artemis 3 and 4, which includes the enhanced upper stage configuration and other upgrades," Schaus said during the call.

[...] Following that same objective, NASA is also focusing on its Mars Sample Return Mission to bring back rock samples currently being stowed away by the Perseverance Rover on the Martian surface. The future mission was allocated $949 million to launch samples from the surface of Mars as early as 2030, an increase from $800 million originally assigned to the mission the year before.

NASA's Mars Sample Return Mission is getting a portion of the total funding for science, which adds up to $8.26 billion in the 2024 budget. Some of the missions that were highlighted as part of the budget include the James Webb Space Telescope, the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope (scheduled for launch in 2027), the Europa Clipper mission to study Jupiter's moon (scheduled to launch in 2024), and the ExoMars Mission.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 16, @07:22AM   Printer-friendly
from the start-a-comms-business-and-print-your-own-money dept.

And not even a tentative date for a system go-live either:

By the end of this month, the UK Home Office will have spent just under £2 billion ($2.4 billion) on a new critical communications network for the country's police, fire and ambulance services – with nothing to show for it, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

Even worse, the multi-year project has fallen further behind schedule and the Home Office cannot say when the replacement system will be operational, according to the spending watchdog.

The Emergency Services Network (ESN) program first kicked off in 2015 – the idea being that it would fully replace the existing near-indestructible Airwave units and system, which uses the Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) network; would "cost less"; and would provide users with access to modern mobile data. ESN was supposed to move critical emergency services off of the tried and tested TETRA (which, among other things, you can access ubiquitously across the London Underground) and onto LTE radio comms – with some obvious modifications and associated features like the push-to-talk ESN Direct.

[...] The UK's Competition and Markets Authority started a probe into the matter in 2021, with the PAC already noting in 2019 that Motorola's involvement in both the new and old contract had led "to perverse incentives" and put "the department in a weak negotiating position." Motorola has denied conflict of interest and said last year that "Airwave, over its life, is a much better deal for the UK taxpayer than the Home Office originally agreed."

[...] In January, eight years after the first proposals for a new system to replace the outdated Airwave platform were unveiled, the Home Office and Motorola Solutions agreed to end their work on the ESN contract in December 2023.

The Home Office, meanwhile, does not currently know when ESN will be ready or how much it will ultimately cost.

[...] The Home Office, meanwhile, maintains that "much" of ESN's "core" has been built, telling The Register: "The Emergency Services Network will provide first responders with better technology and faster access to life-saving data in emergency situations, helping to keep the public safe.

"While much of the core network has already been built, we are committed to addressing the delays and working closely with our partners to provide better value for money for the taxpayer, following Motorola's decision to leave the programme."

It added: "We thank the National Audit Office for their report and are now working at pace to implement all their recommendations."

[...] British taxpayers who are having a good day and want it ruined can download the report here.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 16, @04:36AM   Printer-friendly

The AI hype bubble is the new crypto hype bubble (09 Mar 2023) – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow:

Back in 2017 Long Island Ice Tea – known for its undistinguished, barely drinkable sugar-water – changed its name to "Long Blockchain Corp." Its shares surged to a peak of 400% over their pre-announcement price. The company announced no specific integrations with any kind of blockchain, nor has it made any such integrations since.

[...] The most remarkable thing about this incredibly stupid story is that LBCC wasn't the peak of the blockchain bubble – rather, it was the start of blockchain's final pump-and-dump. By the standards of 2022's blockchain grifters, LBCC was small potatoes, a mere $138m sugar-water grift.

[...] They were amateurs. Their attempt to "make fetch happen" only succeeded for a brief instant. By contrast, the superpredators of the crypto bubble were able to make fetch happen over an improbably long timescale, deploying the most powerful reality distortion fields since

[...] Like any Ponzi scheme, crypto was a way to separate normies from their savings through the pretense that they were "investing" in a vast enterprise – but the only real money ("fiat" in cryptospeak) in the system was the hardscrabble retirement savings of working people, which the bubble's energetic inflaters swapped for illiquid, worthless shitcoins.

We've stopped believing in the illusory billions. Sam Bankman-Fried is under house arrest. But the people who gave him money – and the nimbler Ponzi artists who evaded arrest – are looking for new scams to separate the marks from their money.

Take Morganstanley, who spent 2021 and 2022 hyping cryptocurrency as a massive growth opportunity:

Today, Morganstanley wants you to know that AI is a $6 trillion opportunity.

They're not alone. The CEOs of Endeavor, Buzzfeed, Microsoft, Spotify, Youtube, Snap, Sports Illustrated, and CAA are all out there, pumping up the AI bubble with every hour that god sends, declaring that the future is AI.

[...] Google and Bing are locked in an arms-race to see whose search engine can attain the speediest, most profound enshittification via chatbot, replacing links to web-pages with florid paragraphs composed by fully automated, supremely confident liars:

Blockchain was a solution in search of a problem. So is AI. Yes, Buzzfeed will be able to reduce its wage-bill by automating its personality quiz vertical, and Spotify's "AI DJ" will produce slightly less terrible playlists (at least, to the extent that Spotify doesn't put its thumb on the scales by inserting tracks into the playlists whose only fitness factor is that someone paid to boost them).

But even if you add all of this up, double it, square it, and add a billion dollar confidence interval, it still doesn't add up to what Bank Of America analysts called "a defining moment — like the internet in the '90s." For one thing, the most exciting part of the "internet in the '90s" was that it had incredibly low barriers to entry and wasn't dominated by large companies – indeed, it had them running scared.

The AI bubble, by contrast, is being inflated by massive incumbents, whose excitement boils down to "This will let the biggest companies get much, much bigger and the rest of you can go fuck yourselves." Some revolution.

AI has all the hallmarks of a classic pump-and-dump, starting with terminology. AI isn't "artificial" and it's not "intelligent." "Machine learning" doesn't learn. On this week's Trashfuture podcast, they made an excellent (and profane and hilarious) case that ChatGPT is best understood as a sophisticated form of autocomplete – not our new robot overlord.

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Thursday March 16, @01:51AM   Printer-friendly
from the time-to-form-a-union dept.

Californian court has ruled that "gig" economy giants including Uber and Lyft can continue treating their workers as independent contractors:

The California appeals court found that a labour measure, known as Proposition 22, was largely constitutional.

Labour groups and some workers had opposed the measure, saying it robbed them of rights like sick leave.

The firms say the proposition protects other benefits such as flexibility.

The latest ruling overturns a decision made by a lower court in California in 2021, which found that Proposition 22 affected lawmakers' powers to set standards at the workplace.

The state of California and a group representing Uber, Lyft and other firms appealed against the decision.

On Monday, a three-judge panel at the appeals court ruled that workers could be treated as independent contractors. However it removed a clause, which put restrictions on collective bargaining by workers, from Proposition 22.

Shares in Uber and Lyft were almost 5% higher in after-hours trading.

"Today's ruling is a victory for app-based workers and millions of Californians who voted for Prop 22," Tony West, chief legal officer at Uber said.

[...] Tens of millions of people work in the global gig economy across services like food delivery and transport.

Gig workers are paid for individual tasks, such as a food delivery or a car journey, rather than getting a regular wage.

Most US federal and state labour laws, such as those requiring a minimum wage or overtime pay, do not apply to gig workers.

    NYC Court Blocks Pay Raise for Uber and Lyft Drivers
    Uber, Lyft Drivers In California To Remain Independent Contractors
    California Appeals Court Says Uber, Lyft Drivers are Employees, Not Contractors
    California Judge Rules Uber and Lyft to Immediately Classify Drivers as Employees
    California Sues Uber and Lyft, Alleging Drivers are Misclassified
    Uber, Lyft Poised to Lose Fight Against California Bill That Would Label Drivers as Employees

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 15, @11:08PM   Printer-friendly

A tough time for big tech workers continues:

Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Tuesday in a written statement that the tech giant would lay off 10,000 more workers, adding to the 11,000 people it laid off back in November. Additionally, around 5,000 open roles that hadn't been filled yet will be closed. In other words, it's a hiring freeze on top of a large number of layoffs.

Zuckerberg acknowledged the cuts in a blog post updating Meta's "Year of Efficiency."

This will be tough and there's no way around that. It will mean saying goodbye to talented and passionate colleagues who have been part of our success. They've dedicated themselves to our mission and I'm personally grateful for all their efforts. We will support people in the same ways we have before and treat everyone with the gratitude they deserve.

Amid the layoffs, Meta has also announced that it is stepping away from NFTs to focus on other projects.

According to TechCrunch, Meta's employee head-count came in at around 76,000 after November's layoffs. In the aftermath of this week's job cuts, that would bring the count down to around 66,000.

This is, unfortunately, just part of a wider trend in the world of big tech. Other tech firms of varying sizes like Lyft, Groupon, Vimeo, and Microsoft have all laid off workers in the last year due to broader economic difficulties.

Previously: Meta Employees Brace for Layoffs Ahead of Zuckerberg's Paternity Leave

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 15, @08:27PM   Printer-friendly

After unusually low amounts of rain and snow this winter, the continent faces a severe water shortage:

The drought in parts of France is so bad right now that some authorities have banned new home-building projects—for the next four years. Despite a severe housing shortage in France, new homes just aren't worth the drain on water resources that construction, and eventual new residents, would cause, say nine communes in the south of the country.

It's just one of many signs that Europe is running dry. "What we are looking at is something like a multiyear drought," says Rohini Kumar of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Germany. Unusually low rainfall and snowfall was recorded this winter not just in France but also in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland, and parts of Italy and Germany. The current predicament follows European droughts in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2022.

Last summer, drought exacerbated by record temperatures around the continent was in the headlines. The subsequent dry winter has meant that many aquifers—places underground that retain water—and surface reservoirs have not had a chance to recover. Now, summer beckons once again, and experts who spoke to WIRED are worried that a severe water shortage could threaten lives, industry, and biodiversity in a big way.

The European Drought Observatory tracks indicators of drought across the continent, including from satellite measurements, and suggests that vast regions are far drier than they should be. "Honestly, all over Central Europe, this issue, it's a widespread problem," says Carmelo Cammalleri at the Polytechnic University of Milan.

He estimates that reservoirs in France and northern Italy are about 40 to 50 percent lower than they should be. The longest river in Italy, the Po, is 60 percent below its normal levels. Not only that, there is roughly half the usual snow on the Alps than would be expected for this time of year. That's a huge problem, because much of Central Europe relies on meltwater from these famous mountains every spring. "The Alps are known as the water towers of Europe for a reason," says Cammalleri.

France has just experienced its driest winter for 60 years. In some places, you can find extreme examples of how people have been affected. Take the village of Coucouron in the south of the country, where a truck has had to deliver drinking water up to 10 times a day since July—without any hiatus during the supposedly wetter months.

In the UK, also, many rivers are at record lows. And look to the Rhine, an arterial river that rises in the Alps and flows through multiple countries toward the North Sea. It fell considerably last year, causing massive headaches for barges that use it to transport goods. Right now, the river level is 1 to 2 meters below average for this time of year, according to some estimates. Lucie Fahrner, a spokeswoman for the Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine, denies that the river level is low at present, despite its lower-than-average levels, adding that various measures to help shipping cope with drought in the future are currently being evaluated.

What happens during the next few months will really matter. Abundant rainfall could ease the situation and stave off the worst-case scenario. But Europe needs a lot. "We're talking about a sea, a sea's worth of water," says Hannah Cloke at the University of Reading in the UK. In terms of volume, hundreds of millions of cubic liters of rain would have to fall across the continent to fill the deficit, she estimates. It would have to amount to higher-than-average rainfall for France and certain other places, including parts of the UK. The chances of that are, unfortunately, not high.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 15, @05:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the livin'-off-cloud-nine dept.

After being laid off, many people are starting their own businesses as cloud pros for hire:

The recent tech industry layoffs are driving a wave of what some are calling "solopreneurs" doing gig work or independent contracting. Think DoorDash or Uber Eats, but instead of delivering Thai food, people are delivering key cloud advisory services or even completed cloud-based systems ready for deployment.

This is driven by the anticipation that a slowing economy is likely to drive down tech sales. But also, a cloud skills shortage is occurring simultaneously. We're not preparing enough cloud professionals to keep up with demand, but, at the same time, tech companies are laying them off. Go figure.

This has been evolving for years as workers understand the value of the gig economy and may be looking for more independence and less employment reliance on the larger technology players. Many technology professionals are exploring more entrepreneurial options instead of opting for standard full-time jobs and cushy benefits with companies that can't guarantee a job for life—and never could.

Indeed, 63% of tech workers report they have started their own company post-layoff, according to a recent survey of 1,000 professionals laid off in recent years. Most of these new ventures (83%) exist in the technology industry, especially cloud computing.

[...] I suspect that many of these entrepreneurs will reach a valuation of many millions of dollars (depending on the type of cloud tech business) after a couple of years and average growth. I've seen this personally a great many times. Beats most 401(k)s.

Also interesting, according to the survey, 93% report they are now competing with the company that let them go. [...]

This will have an overall positive effect on the technology industry and cloud computing specifically, given that these types of businesses drive more innovation. They are not hindered by large corporate governance and company politics. Creativity and innovation are directly rewarded with sales and higher business value. This will also increase the number of wealthy people in the technology industry since this model will better disburse wealth among more technology industry contributors.

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 15, @02:54PM   Printer-friendly

The STEM feed comes as TikTok faces increasing scrutiny:

TikTok has a large science community, and the social network wants everyone to know it on Pi Day (March 14). The company is launching a dedicated STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) feed that shows only these more educational videos. You may learn to code or discuss experiments without having to wade through TikTok's usual entertainment-focused content.

Not surprisingly, TikTok is taking steps to block misinformation in this new section. Curator Common Sense Networks will study content to make sure it's relevant to the STEM feed, while the fact-checkers at Poynter will gauge the accuracy. Any videos that don't pass both inspections won't reach the new feed.

Users in the US will start seeing the STEM feed in the "coming weeks," TikTok says. The social media giant has already been experimenting with a "Topic Feed" in some regions to court fans of gaming, sports and other common subjects. The science-oriented feed is considered an expansion of this initiative.

[...] Whether or not this helps with TikTok's survival in the US is another matter. Some politicians want to ban TikTok outright over fears it's a national security threat. Officials are concerned China may collect data about key Americans or spread propaganda.

See also: TikTok is Adding a Dedicated Feed for STEM Content

Original Submission

posted by janrinok on Wednesday March 15, @12:04PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-wish-I-understood-quantum-physics dept.

First demonstration of universal control of encoded spin qubits:

HRL Laboratories, LLC, has published the first demonstration of universal control of encoded spin qubits. This newly emerging approach to quantum computation uses a novel silicon-based qubit device architecture, fabricated in HRL's Malibu cleanroom, to trap single electrons in quantum dots. Spins of three such single electrons host energy-degenerate qubit states, which are controlled by nearest-neighbor contact interactions that partially swap spin states with those of their neighbors.

[...] The encoded silicon/silicon germanium quantum dot qubits use three electron spins and a control scheme whereby voltages applied to metal gates partially swap the directions of those electron-spins without ever aligning them in any particular direction. The demonstration involved applying thousands of these precisely calibrated voltage pulses in strict relation to one another over the course of a few millionths of a second.

The quantum coherence offered by the isotopically enriched silicon used, the all-electrical and low-crosstalk-control of partial swap operations, and the configurable insensitivity of the encoding to certain error sources combine to offer a strong pathway toward scalable fault tolerance and computational advantage, major steps toward a commercial quantum computer.

[...] "It is hard to define what the best qubit technology is, but I think the silicon exchange-only qubit is at least the best-balanced," said Thaddeus Ladd, HRL group leader and co-author.

Journal Reference: Aaron J. Weinstein et al, Universal logic with encoded spin qubits in silicon, Nature (2023).

Original Submission

posted by hubie on Wednesday March 15, @09:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the put-this-in-your-spice-model dept.

It'll allow researchers to develop a 'a mechanistic understanding of how the brain works':

Researchers understand the structure of brains and have mapped them out in some detail, but they still don't know exactly how they process data — for that, a detailed "circuit map" of the brain is needed.

Now, scientists have created just such a map for the most advanced creature yet: a fruit fly larva. Called a connectome, it diagrams the insect's 3016 neurons and 548,000 synapses, Neuroscience News has reported. The map will help researchers study better understand how the brains of both insects and animals control behavior, learning, body functions and more. The work may even inspired improved AI networks.

"Up until this point, we've not seen the structure of any brain except of the roundworm C. elegans, the tadpole of a low chordate, and the larva of a marine annelid, all of which have several hundred neurons," said professor Marta Zlatic from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology. "This means neuroscience has been mostly operating without circuit maps. Without knowing the structure of a brain, we're guessing on the way computations are implemented. But now, we can start gaining a mechanistic understanding of how the brain works."

[...] As a next step, the team will investigate the structures used for behavioural functions like learning and decision making, and examine connectome activity while the insect does specific activities. And while a fruit fly larva is a simple insect, the researchers expect to see similar patterns in other animals. "In the same way that genes are conserved across the animal kingdom, I think that the basic circuit motifs that implement these fundamental behaviours will also be conserved," said Zlatic.

Original Submission