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Quantum Computing Research Gets Boost from Federal Government



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.



Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook must accept some state regulation



Co-founder says site sits between telephone company and newspaper as content provider

Facebook must accept some form of state regulation, acknowledging its status as a content provider somewhere between a newspaper and a telephone company, its co-founder Mark Zuckerberg has said.

He also claimed an era of clean democratic elections, free of interference by foreign governments, is closer due to Facebook now employing 35,000 staff working on monitoring content and security.

He admitted Facebook had been slow to understand the scale of the problem of foreign interference. He also defended his company from claims that it is leading to political polarisation, saying its purpose is to bring communities together.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference, an annual high-level gathering of politicians, diplomats and security specialists, Zuckerberg sought to dispel the notion that his company had undermined democracy, weakened the social fabric or contributed to the weakening of the west through spreading distrust.

He said he supported state regulations in four fields covering elections, political discourse, privacy and data portability. He said: We dont want private companies making so many decision-balancing social equities without democratic processes.

Zuckerberg, who is due to have fresh discussions with the EU commission regulators on Monday said, so long as enough people have weighed in to come up with an answer on regulation, the answer will not necessarily be right, but the process by which the decision is taken will in itself help build greater trust in the internet.

By contrast, he said authoritarian states were introducing highly controlled forms of internet that limited free expression. I do think that there should be regulation in the west on harmful content theres a question about which framework you use for this, Zuckerberg said during a question-and-answer session at the event.

Right now there are two frameworks that I think people have for existing industries theres newspapers and existing media, and then theres the telco-type model, which is the data just flows through you, but youre not going to hold a telco responsible if someone says something harmful on a phone line. I actually think where we should be is somewhere in between, he said.

He pointed out Facebook publishes 100bn pieces of content every day, adding: It is simply not possible to have some kind of human editor responsible to check each one.

Facebooks responsibility for its content was not analogous to that of a newspaper editor, he said. Without expanding, he said some kind of third regulatory structure was required settled somewhere between newspapers and telephones.

Denying Facebooks choice of content led to confirmatory bias by only giving its subscribers information with which they agree, he said: We try to show some balance of views.

The average Facebook subscriber has about 200 friends, most of whom share similar views. It is not a technology problem, it is a social affirmation problem, he argued. The choice of what you see is based on the balance of what you share, rather than by choosing what you see. If your cousin has had a baby we had better make sure that is near the top, he said.

He said his firm had been slow to see how foreign powers were interfering in elections, but Facebook was now spending an amount on security and content equivalent to the total value of the company in 2012, and claimed this massive effort was producing a greater understanding about how to protect the integrity of elections. Nearly 1m accounts had been taken down, he said.

But he warned new domestic actors, as well as foreign powers, were seeking to disrupt elections. The outside forces were also becoming more sophisticated in covering their tracks by pretending their messages were coming from a variety of IP addresses in different countries.

Facebook was also offering election campaigns a new free service where the candidate provides the internet details of its staff, and if one or more of the staff is hacked, the campaigns security can be increased to a higher state of protection.

He said the firm had shifted from a reactive to proactive model, so much so that 99% of terrorist content is taken down before any external complaint is made. In the case of hate speech, 80% of content is removed without notification, but Facebooks Artificial Intelligence was still struggling to distinguish the small nuances between content that was hate speech, or content that was condemning the hate speech, he said.

AAsked by Ronen Bergman of the New York Times about Facebook and WhatsApps lawsuit against Israeli spyware company NSO Group, Zuckerberg shrugged off the idea that the case could damage governments ability to work against terrorism. They can defend themselves in court if what they think is legal, he said, but our view is that people should not be trying to hack into software that billions of people around the world use to try to communicate securely.

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No, Clearview AI’s creepy plan to spy on us is not ‘free speech’ | Jake Laperruque



This mass surveillance is misguided and sinister. We must push back before its too late

Law enforcement agencies around the world are enthusiastically adopting the services of Clearview AI, a tech company whose powerful software scrapes several billion open-source images for the purposes of facial recognition.

As the company confronts mounting criticism over its disturbing surveillance practices, its chief executive, Hoan Ton-That, is rolling out an audacious new defense: he claims that Clearviews practices are protected by the first amendment. Ton-Thats upside-down views of civil liberties are, it seems, just as Orwellian as his companys surveillance apparatus.

Fortunately, he is dead wrong. The constitution does not shield Clearview AI from accountability. We can, and must, pass laws to limit it and other facial recognition systems.

Facial recognition is extremely dangerous. It offers us the horrible choice between dysfunction and dystopia. On the one hand, studies have repeatedly shown that facial recognition can have serious accuracy problems, especially for people of color. Even when these systems do work, however, they give the government unprecedented power to catalog and track the activities and interactions of people everywhere. No wonder the technology is employed most frequently by authoritarian states like China, which reportedly uses facial recognition to spy on its persecuted Muslim minority.

The unrestricted use of facial recognition technology is clearly incompatible with a democratic society. The first amendment does not give companies the unassailable right to engage in speech that involves sending out the intimate details of our lives.

Laws have existed for decades which prevent companies from sharing sensitive user information for example, the Electronic Communications Privacy Act prohibits companies from voluntarily sharing the contents of our text messages or emails, except for narrow exceptions such as emergencies. Phone companies have long been prohibited from handing out or selling our phone records, and more recent rules similarly prohibit the sale of our phones GPS data (although lax FCC enforcement has caused serious harm).

Just because images or information were hypothetically obtained from public sources doesnt totally nullify our right to privacy. The supreme court recently ruled that the fourth amendment bars the police from tracking our cellphone locations without a warrant, even when you are traveling in public. And just as the fourth amendment already protects us from warrantless cellphone tracking, future laws can guard us from facial recognition surveillance technologies that effortlessly catalog our location in much the same way.

Ton-That specifically defended his companys ability to scrape our public photos off social media. Web scraping isnt always bad academics, researchers, and journalists all employ scraping in highly beneficial ways. But we dont need to totally ban scraping in order to stop bad actors like Clearview AI. We can enact policies that limit how our personal data is shared and used.

We must pass laws that restrict facial recognition technologies, both in the private sector and when used by government. Attempts to defend mass surveillance under the auspices of free speech are misguided at best and sinister at worst. All Americans should push back.

  • Jake Laperruque is senior counsel at the Project on Government Oversights Constitution Project

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Skymind Global Ventures launches $800M fund and London office to back AI startups



Skymind Global Ventures (SGV) appeared last year in Asia/UK as a vehicle for the previous founders of a YC-backed open-source AI platform to invest in companies that used the platform.

Today it announces the launch of an $800 million fund to back promising new AI companies and academic research. It will consequently be opening a London office as an extension to its original Hong Kong base.

SGV founder and CEO Shawn Tan said in a statement: “Having our operations in the UK capital is a strategic move for us. London has all the key factors to help us grow our business, such as access to diverse talent and investment, favorable regulation, and a strong and well-established technology hub. The city is also the AI growth capital of Europe with the added competitive advantage of boasting a global friendly time zone that overlaps with business hours in Asia, Europe and the rest of the world.”

SGV will use its London base to back research and development and generate business opportunities across Europe and Asia.

The company helps companies and organizations to launch their AI applications by providing them supported access to “Eclipse Deeplearning4j”, an open-source AI tool.

The background is that the Deeplearning4j tool was originally published by Adam Gibson in late 2013 and later became a YC-backed startup, called Skymind, which was co-founded to commercialize Deeplearning4j. It later changed its name to Pathmind.

SGV is a wholly separate investment company that Adam Gibson joined as VP to run its AI division, called Konduit. Konduit now commercializes the Deeplearning4j open-source tools.

Adam Gibson now joins SGV as vice president, to run its software division, Konduit, which delivers and supports Eclipse Deeplearning4j to clients, as well as offering training development.

SGV says it plans to train up to 200 AI professionals for its operations in London and Europe.

In December last year “Skymind AI Berhad,” the Southeast Asia arm of Skymind and Huawei Technologies, signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop a Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Innovation Hub, commencing with Malaysia and Indonesia in 2020.

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