Aircraft-component manufacturer Moog is testing a combined blockchain/three-dimensional (3D) printing solution to accelerate replacement of defective aircraft parts from days or even weeks to a few hours, to demonstrate the potential for a new type of digital marketplace for the highly regulated components. Moog chief technology officer George Small said, “The idea is that I’m going to stock those parts digitally and turn them into physical goods when I need them.” Blockchain allows buyers to locate and immediately purchase needed parts with less paperwork. In addition to sharing a digital ledger of transactions and trusted manufacturers, blockchain also could host data on material used to make airplane parts, so part orders could be rerouted to a relevant 3D printer.
More info here: The Wall Street Journal, Agam Shah
University of Maryland scientists led development of an artificial intelligence system based on genetic evolution that learned to automatically evade online censorship by repressive governments. The Geneva (genetic evasion) system was tested in China, India, and Kazakhstan, and learned to exploit gaps in censors’ logic and flaws that humans could not spot. When operating on a computer that is sending out Web requests via a censor, Geneva tweaks the data’s fragmentation and transmission so the censor fails to identify banned content, or cannot block the connection. Geneva assembles sets of instructions from small code fragments, which follow refined evasion strategies for breaking up, configuring, or sending data packets. Said Maryland’s Dave Levin, “With Geneva, we are, for the first time, at a major advantage in the censorship arms race.”
More info here: University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, & Natural Sciences
Researchers at Spain’s Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona have developed a protocol that sorts and classifies quantum data by the state in which it was prepared, more efficiently than the comparable classical algorithm. The process identifies clusters of identically prepared quantum systems via a natural link to an archetypal form of classical machine learning: clustering data samples based on a common underlying probability distribution. The researchers also compared the performances of classical and quantum protocols, observing the new protocol significantly overtakes classical approaches, especially for large dimensional data. The protocol is envisioned as a step closer to realizing a quantum Internet, as it establishes a concrete theoretical framework on what is physically possible in the automated classification and distribution of quantum data.
More info here: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Spain)
Google said it has achieved a breakthrough called quantum supremacy, which could speed computational calculations far beyond the capabilities of classical systems. The search giant said its quantum computer completed a mathematical calculation in less than four minutes that the largest supercomputers could not complete in less than 10,000 years. IBM disputed Google’s statement, arguing that a current computer system could theoretically perform the calculation in less than two and a half days. Some researchers have dismissed Google’s achievement for the esoteric nature of the calculation, while Chad Rigetti, who worked on IBM’s quantum computing project and now runs his own start-up, hailed it as a major achievement for the broader scientific community. Said Rigetti, “It is just a short amount of time now before we have commercially relevant problems that quantum machines can solve.”
More info here: The New York Times, Cade Metz
Yannis Assael at DeepMind and colleagues trained an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to guess missing words or characters from Greek inscriptions up to 2,600 years old. The Pythia algorithm learned to recognize patterns on 35,000 relics containing more than 3 million words. The patterns it identifies include the context in which different words appear, the grammar, and the shape and layout of the inscriptions. In a head-to-head test on the missing parts of 2,949 damaged inscriptions, human experts took two hours to get through 50 inscriptions, while Pythia gave its answers in seconds, and was 30% more accurate. Given an inscription with missing information, Pythia provides 20 different suggestions so experts could then select the best one.
More info: New Scientist & Gege Li
IBM named the winners of this year’s Call for Code Global Challenge, with Spanish firefighter safety startup Prometeo receiving the top honor for an artificial intelligence solution based on IBM’s Watson question-answering computer. Prometeo developed a smartphone-sized device that straps to a firefighter’s arm to measure temperature, smoke, and humidity, with color signals reflecting the wearer’s health. Green signals normal health, but yellow or red alert the command center to immediately take action. The $200,000 first-place award will help underwrite Prometeo’s tests of the device in Spain. The Indian/Chinese/American company Sparrow was awarded second prize in the competition for its platform that addresses physical and psychological stress during natural disasters.
More info here: TechCrunch, Brian Heater
France is set to become the first European country to use facial recognition technology to provide its citizens secure digital identities. The French government is moving forward with plans to roll out an ID program called Alicem in November, with the goal of making the state more efficient. However, a privacy group is challenging the initiative in France’s highest administrative court, and the country’s data regulator says the program breaches the European rule of consent. In addition, a hacker was able to break into a “secure” government messaging app earlier this year, raising concerns about the state’s security standards. French officials claim the ID system will not be used to monitor residents, and will not integrate facial recognition biometric data into citizens’ identity databases.
More info here: Bloomberg, Helene Fouquet