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Quantum Computing Research Gets Boost from Federal Government

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The federal government is directing millions of research dollars into quantum computing; AI is expected to speed development.

By AI Trends Staff

The US federal government is investing heavily in research on quantum computing, and AI is helping to boost the development.

The White House is pushing to add an additional billion dollars to fund AI research that would increase AI R&D funding research to nearly $2 billion and quantum computing research to about $860 million over the next two years, according to an account in TechCrunch on Feb. 7.

This is in addition to the $625 million investment in National Quantum Information Science Research Centers announced by the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Office of Science in January, following from the National quantum Initiative Act, according to an account in MeriTalk.

“The purpose of these centers will be to push the current state-of-the-art science and technology toward realizing the full potential of quantum-based applications, from computing, to communication, to sensing,” the announcement stated.

The centers are expected to work across multiple technical areas of interest, including quantum communication, computing, devices, applications, and foundries. The centers are expected to collaborate, maintain science and technology innovation chains, have an effective management structure and needed facilities.

The department expects awards to range from $10 million to $25 million per year for each center. The goal is to accelerate the research and development of quantum computing. The department is looking for at least two multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary teams to engage in the five-year project. Applications are being accepted through April 10.

Russian Researchers Searching for Quantum Advantage

In other quantum computing developments, Russian researchers are being credited with finding a way to use AI to mimic the work of quantum “walk experts,” who search for advantages quantum computing might have over analog computing. By replacing the experts with AI, the Russians try to identify if a given network will deliver a quantum advantage. If so, they are good candidates for building a quantum computer, according to an account in SciTechDaily based on findings reported in the New Journal of Physics.

The researchers are the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), the Valiev Institute of Physics and Technology, and ITMO University.

Problems in modern science solved through quantum mechanical calculations are expected to be better-suited to quantum computing. Examples include research into chemical reactions and the search for stable molecular structures for medicine and pharmaceutics. The Russian researchers used a neural network geared toward image recognition to return a prediction of whether the classical or the quantum walk between identified nodes would be faster.

“It was not obvious this approach would work, but it did. We have been quite successful in training the computer to make autonomous predictions of whether a complex network has a quantum advantage,” stated Associate Professor Leonid Fedichkin of the theoretical physics department at MIPT.

Associate Professor Leonid Fedichkin, Associate Professor of theoretical physics department at MIPT

MIPT graduate and ITMO University researcher Alexey Melnikov stated, “The line between quantum and classical behaviors is often blurred. The distinctive feature of our study is the resulting special-purpose computer vision, capable of discerning this fine line in the network space.”

With their co-author Alexander Alodjants, the researchers created a tool that simplifies the development of computational circuits based on quantum algorithms.

Google, Amazon Supporting Quantum Computer Research

Finally, Google and Amazon have recently made moves to support research into quantum computing. In October, Google announced a quantum computer outfitted with its Sycamore quantum processor completed a test computation in 200 seconds that would have taken 10,000 years to match by the fastest supercomputer.

And Amazon in December announced the availability of Amazon Braket,a new managed service that allows researchers and developers experimenting with computers from multiple quantum hardware providers in a single place. Amazon also announced the AWS Center for Quantum Computing adjacent to the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to bring together quantum computing researchers and engineers together to accelerate development in hardware and software.

Tristan Morel L’Horset, the North America intelligent cloud and infrastructure growth lead for Accenture Technology Services

“We don’t know what problems quantum will solve because quantum will solve problems we haven’t thought of yet,” stated Tristan Morel L’Horset, the North America intelligent cloud and infrastructure growth lead for Accenture Technology Services, at an Amazon event in December, according to an account in Information Week.

This is the first opportunity for customers to directly experiment with quantum computing, which is “ incredibly expensive to build and operate.” It may help answer some questions. “A lot of companies have wondered how they would actually use it,” L’Horset stated.

Read the source articles in TechCrunch, MeriTalk, SciTechDaily and Information Week.

Source: https://www.aitrends.com/hpc/quantum-computing/quantum-computing-research-gets-boost-from-federal-government/

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Is It Worth Investing in a Website Builder?

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There are many different ways to build a website these days. There’s the timeless method of building your site code in Adobe Dreamweaver and exporting it to the web.

You can build a site in WordPress with a bit of CSS knowledge, or you can just outsource everything to a website design agency. Then there’s also the option of using a website builder, which is perhaps the easiest solution of all.

“Website builders are a popular way for people to easily and quickly set up a website with as little hassle as possible.” 

They’re great for small retail businesses, whether you’re selling handmade crafts or drop shipping products from Amazon, but larger companies can effectively use website builders as well. They certainly aren’t for everyone, but let’s take a look at whether or not investing in a website builder is the right choice for you.

How much do website builders actually cost?

Website builders are always going to be cheaper than custom website design, and to an extent WordPress, but there are some variables. The thing is that some people (design agencies) like to point out that website builders cost a little more in things like domain hosting, SSL certificates, and other little monthly fees, compared to DIY hosting or a WordPress domain host.

So it becomes a question of upfront costs versus long-term costs in monthly fees, but there are several catches people don’t like to mention. Let me try to explain it succinctly.

Cost of a website builder

If you use a website builder to create, for example, a small eCommerce website. You’re probably going to pay around $200 ~ $500 upfront. This will include your domain name, any premium themes and add-ons (like a shopping cart module), and monthly hosting (which you’ll probably pay as an annual subscription upfront). It’s kind of like an “all-inclusive” vacation package, where everything is included in the total upfront cost.

So you’ll pay a small upfront fee which is mostly the annual hosting subscription, followed by monthly fees for the additional customizations you add to your website. Hosting plans on website builder platforms average around $9 to $75 per month, depending on your plan.

Again, it really depends on your plan, as website builders aren’t just for eCommerce websites. For example, there are a number of platforms which are built for specific industries, such as real estate, as this guide describes. Ultimately if you are going to use a website builder, it’s best to find one that is best suited to the industry you are operating in. 

Cost of a WordPress website

If you use WordPress, you can expect to pay around $500 – $1,000 upfront for a similar small eCommerce website, with lower monthly fees. This is because you can shop around for a domain name and domain hosting from sites like HostGator, BlueHost, etc. to get the best subscription-based pricing available, but you’ll also be paying additionally for WordPress themes, mobile design plug-ins, shopping cart plug-ins, etc.

Using the vacation package analogy again, WordPress is like you’re paying for your own drinks, meals, and WiFi access at the resort.

This means that you’ll be spending a bit more upfront on piecing together the different elements of your website, but you’ll pay on average around $11 – $40 per month for domain hosting. Of course, you could also pay monthly for plug-in subscriptions, website maintenance, etc.

Cost of custom website design

So in the vacation package analogy, custom website design is like flying first-class to a resort, and you own the resort. Custom website design is going to cost a minimum of around $5,000 and could go much higher, depending on your web project.

“Website designers are paid around $50 – $100 per hour, and custom website design takes around 14 weeks on average, from beginning to launch.” 

Now some website design agencies are going to be mad at me for saying this, but when they like to point out the “higher monthly costs” of a website builder, take a look at their fine print. Many website design agencies can lock you into monthly maintenance contracts, which can range from an additional $500 up to $3,000 per month or more, depending on the size of your site.

It’s kind of like if you have a contract with a car mechanic to inflate your tires and change your oil every month, except they keep billing you for a clutch assembly replacement. I’m not saying that website design agencies are dishonest, but you do need to be aware of what kind of monthly maintenance your website actually needs.

Conclusion

When we compare all three options (website builder, WordPress, and custom website design), it’s quite clear that website builders are the most affordable option. However, you’ll also be limited in customization options with a website builder, as you’re really piecing together templates and blocks, so you won’t get the exclusive customization and brand appeal you would with custom web design or a WordPress website. So you’ll have to consider what’s best for your long-term business plan.

Also, Read Tips to Automate Your Ecommerce

Source: https://www.aiiottalk.com/business/investing-in-a-website-builder/

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Amazon EC2 Inf1 instances featuring AWS Inferentia chips now available in five new Regions and with improved performance

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Following strong customer demand, AWS has expanded the availability of Amazon EC2 Inf1 instances to five new Regions: US East (Ohio), Asia Pacific (Sydney, Tokyo), and Europe (Frankfurt, Ireland). Inf1 instances are powered by AWS Inferentia chips, which Amazon custom-designed to provide you with the lowest cost per inference in the cloud and lower barriers for everyday developers to use machine learning (ML) at scale.

As you scale your use of deep learning across new applications, you may be bound by the high cost of running trained ML models in production. In many cases, up to 90% of the infrastructure spent on developing and running an ML application is on inference, making the need for high-performance, cost-effective ML inference infrastructure critical. Inf1 instances are built from the ground up to support ML inference applications and deliver up to 30% higher throughput and up to 45% lower cost per inference than comparable GPU-based instances. This gives you the performance and cost structure you need to confidently deploy your deep learning models across a broad set of applications.

Customers and Amazon services adopting Inf1 instances

Since the launch of Inf1 instances, a broad spectrum of customers, such as large enterprises and startups, as well as Amazon services, have begun using them to run production workloads. Amazon’s Alexa team is in the process of migrating their Text-To-Speech workload from running on GPUs to Inf1 instances. INGA Technology, a startup focused on advanced text summarization, got started with Inf1 instances quickly and saw immediate gains.

“We quickly ramped up on AWS Inferentia-based Amazon EC2 Inf1 instances and integrated them in our development pipeline,” says Yaroslav Shakula, Chief Business Development Officer at INGA Technologies. “The impact was immediate and significant. The Inf1 instances provide high performance, which enables us to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our inference model pipelines. Out of the box, we have experienced four times higher throughput, and 30% lower overall pipeline costs compared to our previous GPU-based pipeline.”

SkyWatch provides you with the tools you need to cost-effectively add Earth observation data into your applications. They use deep learning to process hundreds of trillions of pixels of Earth observation data captured from space every day.

“Adopting the new AWS Inferentia-based Inf1 instances using Amazon SageMaker for real-time cloud detection and image quality scoring was quick and easy,” says Adler Santos, Engineering Manager at SkyWatch. “It was all a matter of switching the instance type in our deployment configuration. By switching instance types to AWS Inferentia-based Inf1, we improved performance by 40% and decreased overall costs by 23%. This is a big win. It has enabled us to lower our overall operational costs while continuing to deliver high-quality satellite imagery to our customers, with minimal engineering overhead.”

AWS Neuron SDK performance and support for new ML models

You can deploy your ML models to Inf1 instances using the AWS Neuron SDK, which is integrated with popular ML frameworks such as TensorFlow, PyTorch, and MXNet. Because Neuron is integrated with ML frameworks, you can deploy your existing models to Amazon EC2 Inf1 instances with minimal code changes. This gives you the freedom to maintain hardware portability and take advantage of the latest technologies without being tied to vendor-specific software libraries.

Since its launch, the Neuron SDK has seen dramatic improvement in performance, delivering throughput up to two times higher for image classification models and up to 60% improvement for natural language processing models. The most recent launch of Neuron added support for OpenPose, a model for multi-person keypoint detection, providing 72% lower cost per inference than GPU instances.

Getting started

The easiest and quickest way to get started with Inf1 instances is via Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed service for building, training, and deploying ML models. If you prefer to manage your own ML application development platforms, you can get started by either launching Inf1 instances with AWS Deep Learning AMIs, which include the Neuron SDK, or use Inf1 instances via Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (Amazon EKS) or Amazon Elastic Container Service (Amazon ECS) for containerized ML applications.

For more information, see Amazon EC2 Inf1 Instances.


About the Author

Michal Skiba is a Senior Product Manager at AWS and passionate about enabling developers to leverage innovative hardware. Over the past ten years he has managed various cloud computing infrastructure products at Silicon Valley companies, large and small.

Source: https://aws.amazon.com/blogs/machine-learning/amazon-ec2-inf1-instances-featuring-aws-inferentia-chips-now-available-in-five-new-regions-and-with-improved-performance/

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Argonne National Labs Using AI To Predict Battery Cycles

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Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory are exploring the use of AI to decrease the testing time of batteries for demanding grid applications. (GETTY IMAGES)

By Allison Proffitt, Editorial Director, AI Trends

Thanks to the cost reductions that have come from global electric vehicle adoption, lithium ion batteries now have an important role to play in grid storage, Susan Babinec, Argonne National Laboratory, told audiences last week at the International Battery Virtual Seminar and Exhibit. But making full use of them is going to require a bit of help from artificial intelligence.

While EVs prize high energy density, and only need to last about eight years, grid applications require more cycles, more calendar life—20 to 30 years—and more safety at a lower cost.

“Grid economics requires precise life data, which is very time and resource intensive to generate,” Babinec said. “We are using approximations that create risk, limit our design creativity, and increase cost.” The solution? Of course, in today’s day and age the solution is always artificial intelligence, Babinec quipped. “In this case, we’re going to use AI to massively reduced time to cycle life prediction.”

Sue Babinec, Program Lead, Grid Storage at Argonne National Laboratory

Babinec’s team categorized the variables impacting lithium ion batteries for grid applications—acknowledging that adjusting any one variable will always mean changes in others. “For grid storage, first and foremost, low cost is always the most important,” Babinec said. But others include state-of-charge swing, C-rate, average state-of-charge, and temperature.

“Today we handle this variability by estimating the cycle life, but those estimates do not really allow us to push these cells to the limits of what they can really do,” Babinec said. “We just simply don’t have enough information on the cycle life and we are limited by the information that is provided by the cell manufacturer, which is really all about them making sure they can live up to their warranty.”

Babinec is prioritizing overall cost per cycle (levelized cost of storage, LCOS). This is a better metric than capital cost because grid storage batteries are durable goods, she explained. The Department of Energy’s target for LCOS is $0.02/kWh, a target for which we currently fall far short.

“No matter how you look at it, we are not there today with any combination of capital and cycles,” Babinec said. “We need to bring the capital down, but right here and now we need to bring the number of cycles up.”

Looking to AI to Decrease Testing Time from Two Years to Two Weeks

Argonne is applying artificial intelligence to the problem. Babinec’s group is developing rapid cycle life evaluations using AI to decrease testing from the current two years to a goal of two weeks. Argonne is the right spot for this research, Babinec argues. As the DOE’s battery hub, Argonne has plenty of data, a team of AI experts, and a new supercomputer up to the task. Aurora, created in partnership with Argonne, Cray and the DOE, will be the first exascale computer in the U.S.

The scope of the project is broad. They are using several AI approaches—from physics-based tools to deep neural nets. “We want to see which AI approach is the best for this problem,” Babinec said. All of the Li-ion chemistries will be tested deliberately and sequentially, and the current, voltage, and time will be recorded for every second, of every cycle, for every cell.

Babinec describes the basic AI process as encoding data from one cell running one cycle. Each cell cycle generates 150 features. Narrowing in on one feature from many cells, you determine correlations and relationships and decode for one behavior: cycles to failure.

To test their plan, the group used public data published last year in Nature Energy (DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0356-8). They compared the capacity at a certain voltage in cycle one to the capacity at the same voltage in cycle 20 and generated correlations and relationships then predictions from there. The results: the experimental cycles to failure and the predicted cycles to failure aligned.

Her presentation at Florida Battery was the first presentation of Argonne’s experimental results, and Babinec shared that the approach seems to be working. When testing many chemistries, like cells self-organize by chemistry and cycles to failure. When run on real cells, predictions match observed. So far, Babinec says it looks like it will take as few as 40-60 cycles to predict cycle life—more for high cycle life, less for low cycle life.

The key to a high-quality prediction, she emphasized, is using training data from cells with a cycle life that is similar to your goal cycle life. For example, cells that failed at 150 cycles will not accurately train an algorithm to predict 2,000 cycles.

While work on the cycle life predictions continues, Babinec says Argonne is also focused on cleaning up more than 20 years’ worth of spreadsheets, databases, and machine files containing battery data. “The data is wonderful, but it has to be cleaned up. It’s a major effort, which we are working on,” she said. The team is working toward machine learning-ready training data including, for example, capacity vs. cycle comparisons and discharge curves. Some data are available on Github: https://github.com/materials-data-facility/battery-data-toolkit

“There is promise for this,” Babinec said. Testing timelines will decrease, which she says may open up assessments of complex and changing use scenarios, eventually enhancing deployment flexibility while minimizing risk.

Learn more at Nature Energy (DOI: 10.1038/s41560-019-0356-8).

Source: https://www.aitrends.com/ai-research/argonne-national-labs-using-ai-to-predict-battery-cycles/

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