Complex software needed to limit quantum computing errors

Quantum computers will require complex software to manage errors, which can’t be solved by a simple software operation scientists previously considered, according to the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). “Traversal encoded quantum gates” can limit errors by prohibiting interactions between quantum bits at critical times, but NIST proved mathematically that such a solution wouldn’t work on its own. Scientists have already developed other techniques to limit errors. “The findings could actually help move designers on to greener pastures,” NIST theorist Bryan Eastin said. “There are some avenues of exploration that are less tempting now.” (PhysOrg)

US electrical grid hacked by spies

Spies from China, Russia, and other countries have hacked into the US electrical grid in the past few years and left potentially destructive software, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Intelligence agencies that discovered the intrusions say the incidents represent a growing cybersecurity threat. It isn’t clear what the hackers’ intentions might have been or if they had government backing, but US officials believe the incidents show that the US system could be vulnerable during conflicts. Chinese and Russian government officials denied any involvement. (Wall Street Journal)

RFC process shaped Internet 40 years ago

Monday marked the 40th anniversary of the request for comments, a development document that started in the early days of the Internet as a way to share ideas and efforts to establish protocols. Internet pioneer and RFC inventor Stephen Crocker wrote a New York Times article detailing how the process was established, which started before e-mail and relied on postal mail for RFC distribution.  (The New York Times)

Google search results go local

Google has updated its search engine to provide local results based on geographic estimates from users’ IP addresses. In its official blog, Google engineers said the change should help people find shops and services such as restaurants, which often aren’t specified by location when people enter search terms. The results include a “change location” link at the top of the page for searchers to look outside their area. (Computerworld)

Australian government to build own fiber network

The Australian government is planning to develop a nationwide fiber broadband service on its own, rejecting bids for a privatized network because they didn’t meet requirements. A new federal company, the National Broadband Network, will administer the 100 megabit per second system, expected to reach up to 90 percent of all homes. Wireless and satellite technology will be used to reach other areas, and telecommunications companies will be invited to help build up to 49 percent of the infrastructure. Originally, the plan called for a fiber network to reach up to 98 percent of the country. (Australian IT)

Skype iPhone app opens net neutrality debate

The introduction of Skype on iPhones this month has broadened the network neutrality debate because of limitations by US carrier AT&T, which only allows the service through a WiFi connection and not its 3G network. Advocacy organization Free Press called for the US Federal Communication Commission to intercede in the matter, complaining that AT&T was blocking lawful applications. The debate also applies to competing VoIP services, which circumvent carriers’ own voice services at a cheaper cost. (eWeek, Computerworld)

Child robot learns as humans do

A Japanese team has developed a childlike robot that learns from its environment in the same manner as a human infant. The Child-robot with Biometric Body (CB2) is designed with human features, including gray silicon skin with pressure sensors to recognize touch. The robot retains information about human expressions through video and audio input and matches it to physical sensations. The team said that in the two years the robot has been active it has made significant progress, such as learning to walk. (AFP)


Blogging technology identifies authors' emotions

NEC has developed technology that identifies an authors’ feelings based on text and voice synthesis, introducing it as a system for users to create blog content with mobile phones. The system includes expressive graphics based on the authors’ emotions. The technology includes “reputation extraction” that identifies sentence subjects of ambiguous words such as “small” and “state of mind assessment technology” to evaluate a person’s voice tone. (PhysOrg)


AI program teaches itself laws of physics

A program developed by Cornell researchers independently discovered the laws of physics, an artificial intelligence breakthrough scientists have been seeking for decades. The program, which began with simple mathematical and algebraic processes, was asked to describe the movements of oscillators and pendulums. It failed several times, but used an algorithm to refine its calculations and eventually came up with Newton’s second law of motion and the law of momentum conservation. Researchers say the program could be the first step toward building AI programs that could analyze data too complex for humans. (Wired)

Robotic scientist makes enzyme discovery

A computer system described as a robotic scientist is credited as the first machine to discover new scientific knowledge. UK researchers, whose findings were published in Science, created an artificial intelligence prototype called Adam that can formulate its own hypotheses about enzymes in baker’s yeast. The system concluded that certain genes catalyze biochemical reactions and backed it up by performing its own tests. The researchers confirmed the results independently and now hope to build a successor called Eve that can find new drugs to fight diseases. (Science Daily)

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