computer science (5)

Thermo Limits

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A radical reimagining of information processing could greatly reduce the energy use—as well as greenhouse gas emissions and waste heat—from computers. Credit: vchal/Getty Images

Topics: Climate Change, Computer Science, Electrical Engineering, Global Warming, Semiconductor Technology, Thermodynamics

In case you had not noticed, computers are hot—literally. A laptop can pump out thigh-baking heat, while data centers consume an estimated 200 terawatt-hours each year—comparable to the energy consumption of some medium-sized countries. The carbon footprint of information and communication technologies as a whole is close to that of fuel used in the aviation industry. And as computer circuitry gets ever smaller and more densely packed, it becomes more prone to melting from the energy it dissipates as heat.

Now physicist James Crutchfield of the University of California, Davis, and his graduate student Kyle Ray have proposed a new way to carry out computation that would dissipate only a small fraction of the heat produced by conventional circuits. In fact, their approach, described in a recent preprint paper, could bring heat dissipation below even the theoretical minimum that the laws of physics impose on today’s computers. That could greatly reduce the energy needed to both perform computations and keep circuitry cool. And it could all be done, the researchers say, using microelectronic devices that already exist.

In 1961 physicist Rolf Landauer of IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., showed that conventional computing incurs an unavoidable cost in energy dissipation—basically, in the generation of heat and entropy. That is because a conventional computer has to sometimes erase bits of information in its memory circuits in order to make space for more. Each time a single bit (with the value 1 or 0) is reset, a certain minimum amount of energy is dissipated—which Ray and Crutchfield have christened “the Landauer.” Its value depends on ambient temperature: in your living room, one Landauer would be around 10–21 joule. (For comparison, a lit candle emits on the order of 10 joules of energy per second.)

‘Momentum Computing’ Pushes Technology’s Thermodynamic Limits, Phillip Ball, Scientific American

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Fantastic Plastic...

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Plastic fantastic: this perovskite-based device can be reconfigured and could play an important role in artificial intelligence systems. (Courtesy: Purdue University/Rebecca McElhoe)

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Biology, Computer Science, Materials Science

Researchers in the US have developed a perovskite-based device that could be used to create a high-plasticity architecture for artificial intelligence. The team, led by Shriram Ramanathan at Purdue University, has shown that the material’s electronic properties can be easily reconfigured, allowing the devices to function like artificial neurons and other components. Their results could lead to more flexible artificial-intelligence hardware that could learn much like the brain.

Artificial intelligence systems can be trained to perform a task such as voice recognition using real-world data. Today this is usually done in software, which can adapt when additional training data are provided. However, machine learning systems that are based on hardware are much more efficient and researchers have already created electronic circuits that behave like artificial neurons and synapses.

However, unlike the circuits in our brains, these electronics are not able to reconfigure themselves when presented with new training information. What is needed is a system with high plasticity, which can alter its architecture to respond efficiently to new information.

Device can transform into four components for artificial intelligence systems, Sam Jarman, Physics World

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Quantum AI...

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Rutgers researchers and their collaborators have found that learning - a universal feature of intelligence in living beings - can be mimicked in synthetic matter, a discovery that in turn could inspire new algorithms for artificial intelligence (AI). (Courtesy: Rutgers University-New Brunswick)

Topics: Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science, Materials Science, Quantum Mechanics

Quantum materials known as Mott insulators can “learn” to respond to external stimuli in a way that mimics animal behavior, say researchers at Rutgers University in the US. The discovery of behaviors such as habituation and sensitization in these non-living systems could lead to new algorithms for artificial intelligence (AI).

Neuromorphic, or brain-inspired, computers aim to mimic the neural systems of living species at the physical level of neurons (brain nerve cells) and synapses (the connections between neurons). Each of the 100 billion neurons in the human brain, for example, receives electrical inputs from some of its neighbors and then “fires” an electrical output to others when the sum of the inputs exceeds a certain threshold. This process, also known as “spiking”, can be reproduced in nanoscale devices such as spintronic oscillators. As well as being potentially much faster and energy-efficient than conventional computers, devices based on these neuromorphic principles might be able to learn how to perform new tasks without being directly programmed to accomplish them.

Quantum material ‘learns’ like a living creature, Isabelle Dumé, Physics World

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Tech Authoritarianism...

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GIF source: Link below

Topics: Computer Science, Politics, Social Media

To build the metaverse, Facebook needs us to get used to smart glasses.

Last week Facebook released its new $299 “Ray-Ban Stories” glasses. Wearers can use them to record and share images and short videos, listen to music, and take calls. The people who buy these glasses will soon be out in public and private spaces, photographing and recording the rest of us, and using Facebook’s new “View” app to sort and upload that content.

My issue with these glasses is partially what they are, but mostly what they will become, and how that will change our social landscape.

How will we feel going about our lives in public, knowing that at any moment the people around us might be wearing stealth surveillance technology? People have recorded others in public for decades, but it’s gotten more difficult for the average person to detect, and Facebook’s new glasses will make it harder still since they resemble and carry the Ray-Ban brand.

That brand’s trusted legacy of “cool” could make Facebook’s glasses appeal to many more people than Snap Spectacles and other camera glasses. (Facebook also has roughly 2 billion more users than Snapchat.) And Facebook can take advantage of the global supply chain and retail outlet infrastructure of Luxottica, Ray-Ban’s parent company. This means the product won’t have to roll out slowly—even worldwide.

Why Facebook is using Ray-Ban to stake a claim on our faces, S.A. Applin, MIT Technology Review

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Space-Based Quantum Technology...

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(Credit: Yurchanka Siarhei/Shutterstock)

Topics: Computer Science, Quantum Computer, Quantum Mechanics

Quantum technologies are already revolutionizing life on Earth. But they also have the potential to change the way we operate in space. With the U.S., China, and Europe all investing heavily in this area, these changes are likely to be with us sooner rather than later.

So how will space-based quantum technologies make a difference?

Now, we get an overview thanks to the work of Rainer Kaltenbaek at the Institute for Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, in Austria, and colleagues throughout Europe, who have mapped out the future in this area and set out the advances that space-based quantum technologies will make possible.

While quantum computing and quantum communication grab most of the headlines, Kaltenbaek and colleagues point out that other quantum technologies are set to have equally impressive impacts. Take, for example, atom interferometry with quantum sensors.

These devices can measure with unprecedented accuracy any change in motion of a satellite in orbit as it is buffeted by tiny variations in the Earth’s gravitational field. These changes are caused by factors such as the movement of cooler, higher-density water flows in the deep ocean, flooding, the movement of the continents, and ice flows.

The Future of Space-Based Quantum Technology, Discover/Physics arXiv

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