In a recent race with IBM to become the first to quantum computing, Google declared that its quantum computer, Sycamore, became the first to solve a theoretical problem that no classic computer has ever been able to solve. In just under four minutes, Sycamore solved a random circuit sampling problem that would have taken a tradition computer 10,000 years to solve. To date, it is the first computation that can be solved only on a quantum computer.
IBM, however, is disputing the claim, stating that a traditional computer could actually do the computation in about two and a half days rather than 10,000 years. Although quantum supremacy is not very significant for everyday purposes at this point in time, it is an important step forward for research purposes in the future. Making quantum computing useful for everyday life would be the next step for quantum computers. Quantum computing would become useful in industries such as weather forecasting, pharmaceuticals, and AI.
As a result of a 2017 ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on net neutrality, internet service providers such as Comcast and Verizon are now able to control the internet as they wish. Net neutrality was the idea that all internet traffic is and should be treated equally, regardless of where it comes from or what kind of data it contains. This idea, however, was ruled against by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which means that internet service providers can prioritize internet traffic as they please. This has resulted in customers being overcharged for their internet and has affected their internet access.
So far, governors in Hawaii, California, Vermont, New Jersey, Washington, Oregon, Montana, New York, and Rhode Island have signed executive orders that prohibit internet service providers from limiting their customer’s internet access, thus forcing them into net neutrality. In cities and towns where this is not happening, they are taking matters into their own hands. The most notable effort comes from Chattanooga, Tennessee, where they have built their own high-speed, fiber optic internet network. With more cities following in their footsteps, many American cities are getting rid of internet service providers and replacing it with their own, cheap, internet networks where no major internet service provider can put limits on their internet service.
As our world continues to become more and more digitized, central banks around the world are responding to consumer’s needs to become a cashless society. With the introduction of online banking, mobile payments, and digital money in the past couple of years, experts say that digital currencies will be an inevitable part of our daily lives in the near future. In a recent report from IBM, authors stated that digital currencies will result in a diminished dark economy, increased financial inclusion, and decreased financial crime.
Some countries have already begun testing the possibility of a digital currency in their country. In Sweden, the central bank has introduced the e-krona, which is an equivalent to the cash in the country. They are one of the first countries to introduce this type of currency in Europe and are calling for more countries in the European Union to consider using digital currency in their own countries. Central banks are offering digital currency through blockchain technology and the future of digital currency seems to be right around the corner for many countries in the world.
According to new research released by Freedom House in the 2019 Freedom of the Net report, internet freedom across the globe has declined for the ninth year in a row. Research was conducted on 65 different countries across the world on the climate of their respective internet freedoms. Of the 65 countries, it was found that 33 countries saw net decreases in their internet freedoms, while 16 saw overall increases. The research in this study basically measured the level of censorship, freedom of expression and overall internet access present in the participating countries.
The study found that countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Estonia, Iceland, Armenia, Italy, France, and Germany are the best countries when it comes to internet freedom and overall internet access. Countries such as Iran, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia ranked among the worst in internet freedom. China, in particular, is ranked as one of the worst countries. In past years, the Chinese government was known to censor and prohibit much of the content that was available on the internet. This year in particular, however, saw an unprecedented amount of content being blocked on the internet due to anti-government protests in Hong Kong. The authors of this study concluded about the internet that “What was once a liberating technology has become a conduit for surveillance and electoral manipulation”.
Labeled “the startup nation”, Estonia is one of the most technologically advanced and digitized countries in the world. Starting in the early 2000’s, Estonia took steps to make services such as tax preparations and bank operations completely online to make the lives of their citizens easier. In 2014, they became the first nation to introduce an e-residency program. This program was introduced so that companies could open online bank accounts in the country, manage their businesses, and utilize the European Union’s single market system. Today, Estonia is home to over 55,000 e-residents from 136 different countries and have created over 6,000 new companies.
Ott Vatter, managing director of Estonia’s e-residency program, stated that every citizen has a digital identity and a physical ID card that they can put into their computer and can then have access to over 98% of Estonia’s public services. The whole reason behind making all public services available online was the fact that, as an ex-Soviet country, they lacked the people, knowledge, and resources to be able to physically provide these services to their citizens. They installed cable internet in every school in the small nation and began to educate the youth about the importance of information technology. Wi-Fi is also publicly available in most places throughout the country and fellow Baltic countries Latvia and Lithuania are planning to come out with their own e-residency programs within the next two years.
Earlier this month, the United States and the United Kingdom signed a monumental agreement on data sharing. This agreement allows the two countries to share data between each other electronically for certain criminal cases. This agreement is important because it will open the door for similar international agreements to be signed by more countries, increasing data flow from one country to another. The agreement specifically allows authorized officials from the two countries to request electronic data from one another regarding serious crimes, such as terrorism and cyber crime, without legal barriers. A process that traditionally took two years to complete, this new agreement will allow countries to share data at a significantly faster rate.
The CLOUD Act (Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act) does raise some concerns, however, about the privacy of the citizens in both countries. For example, if data is being collected from a citizen in the United States and their interaction with a citizen from the U.K. for a specific crime, the data they are collecting could contain information about another crime they are committing, unrelated to the one they were initially investigating. This is a concern for citizens in both countries as their respective privacy’s could be compromised. Despite this, the idea seems to be gaining popularity as more countries are expected to follow in the U.S. and U.K.’s footsteps in the coming months.
Over the past week, scientists at Orca (Offshore Robotics for Certification Assets) in Scotland have finished the development of new autonomous drones and robots that will change the way traditional work is done in the energy industry. The first development is a drone that is completely autonomous and and had the ability to repair wind farms. The drone attaches itself to the turbine and has a robotic arm that can do everything from simply inspecting the turbine to actually repairing it. With no human controlling the drone on land, the process of repairing wind turbines becomes more efficient and more safe, as no human has to dangle above an ocean below in order to repair a wind turbine.
The second development to come this week is a robot that looks almost like a dog. This robot is capable of floating or sinking below water and autonomously sending itself to an offshore energy site and carrying out repairs on its own. This is beneficial because most offshore energy sites are very small and hard for humans to actually move around in them. This robot facilitates the process of repairing offshore energy sites and has the ability to get to hard to reach places that would be difficult for humans. Although all of these robots are autonomous, and through artificial intelligence will learn to carry out repairs on their own, there will still be some degree of human supervision to make sure the robot is doing the job correctly. The main objective of these developments is to take humans out of harms way, as some of these traditional repair jobs are very dangerous.
A few weeks ago, Apple released a new software update for all Apple devices, iOS13, along with the release of the new Iphone 11. This new update, among many other new features, came with the option for users to allow certain apps to use their location. When an app is opened for the first time after the new update, a notification appears on the screen asking the user if they want that app to have access to their Bluetooth. This allows apps access to your location in order to advertise specific products or services based on your location.
Apple released this new feature on its newest update to give its users control over which apps can have access to their location and to suspicious apps that stored users location for no clear reason. For example, apps such as the flashlight app and wallpaper apps were allowed to have access to users location with no obvious reason to do so. Users now have more control over who they want to have access to their location, but this new update is hurting companies such as Amazon and Best Buy as they now don’t automatically know their customers location in order to market to them. Customers would have to opt in to letting the app use their location, otherwise, these companies’ ability to target market is severely weakened.
The latest job sector to be effected by technology is the finance and investing sector. A job that was traditionally done by humans, the field of investing has now been introduced to artificial intelligence. With this introduction, investors may become a thing of the past as clients will now begin getting investing advice from so-called “robo-advisiors”. This, of course, would be groundbreaking but what would this mean for the future of the finance field? Many investors would lose their jobs in the long run as robo-advisors become better and better at giving investing advice through machine learning. This would also lead to clients getting higher quality investing advice for a fraction of the initial price.
Some questions have been raised, however, about the initial effectiveness of robo-advisors. Although investors seem to have straightforward equations that would lead their client to the best possible investing solution, there is actually a lot of emotion that goes into investments. Emotion is obviously something AI is incapable of (for the time being), so this raises questions of will clients actually be getting the best investing advice without the emotional factor playing into the equation. The upside to robo-investors is that investing decisions can be made almost instantaneously. This process is time consuming for humans and robo-advisors could expedite the process. This includes updating a clients portfolio in seconds relative to how the market fluctuates. AI in the investing sector may take some time to perfect, but in the long run, it could change the way way we invest money and will change the entire field of finance forever.
Hackers can trigger major blackouts and nuclear meltdowns
As technology has rapidly evolved over the past 20 years and has changed life as we know it, world governments are the latest to feel the impacts of recently developed technologies. Instead of engaging in physical warfare as countries did many years ago, hackers are now engaging in cyber warfare. Hackers now have the ability to target countries and do things such as wiping out their entire national grids and even cause their nuclear power plants to meltdown. For example, hackers were able to infect Iran’s nuclear power plants with malware that almost led to a meltdown.
This new form of cyberattacks has become a serious issue for foreign leaders, and they are already devising plans to respond to cyberattacks, should it happen to their countries. Great Britain, for example, has already devised a plan to wipe out Moscow’s power grid, should Russia decide to attack them first. There is much speculation, however, about which international laws should apply if cyberattacks were to happen. Because it could take weeks to pinpoint where a cyberattack came from and if a small group of hackers or a whole government committed the cyberattack, international law can be tricky. If a country’s government were responsible for a cyberattack against another country, then that country would have the right to respond and defend themselves. If it came from a small group of hackers, however, the affected country would not be able to defend themselves because another country didn’t attack them.