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New Quantum Algorithms Institute at SFU to position B.C. as world leader in quantum computing – Simon Fraser University News

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This October, the provincial government announced it will invest $17 million over the next five years to establish a new Quantum Algorithms Institute hosted at Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, serving as the core of the city’s new innovation corridor.

It is a major advancement for a university already recognized as a global leader in quantum computing—one of the most exciting frontiers in technology.

If quantum computing is still in its infancy, popular understanding of the field is barely at the embryo stage. But that does not stop quantum properties like superposition—the ability of a quantum system to be in more than one state at once—and entanglement—an extremely close relationship between quantum particles—from allowing quantum computers to process a staggering amount of data.

SFU physicist Stephanie Simons, a professor and Canada Research Chair in Quantum Nanoelectronics, heads the university’s Silicon Quantum Technology Group. She explains that algorithms are one of the keys to bringing quantum computing into the mainstream.

Q: The new Quantum Algorithms Institute will see SFU collaborate with research universities across B.C. to devise quantum computing software. What makes algorithms such an important aspect of quantum computing?

Algorithms are the basis of software: they are how computers execute a task and solve a problem. And quantum computing requires very specific kinds of algorithms, taking on very particular kinds of problems. The problems that are naturally suited to quantum computing are the ones that need a lot of computational space, but have very succinct answers. A needle-in-a-haystack kind of problem, for instance.

You can do some pen-and-paper work to show that certain quantum algorithms will be exponentially more efficient at accomplishing some tasks than even the best “classical computer.” And by classical computer, I mean all current and future computers that rely on classical physics, including even the most powerful modern supercomputers.

Q: How do algorithms fit into the bigger picture of quantum computing at SFU?

There is so much work going on here, starting with hardware. In 2013, SFU set the world’s record for the longest-lived quantum bit, or qubit, which is the basic building block underpinning all the quantum hardware that people are trying to develop. That work was led by Emeritus Professor Mike Thewalt. Collaborating with him on that project played a big part in attracting me to SFU. SFU has global prominence in the field of silicon-based qubits, which is the hardware platform that Mike and I are running with—and which are arguably the best qubits in the industry. SFU also has an ion trap quantum computing lab and a cold-atoms quantum computing lab.

There is a sector of people working with existing quantum hardware, too. Various SFU professors have collaborated with Burnaby-based D-Wave Systems, which has an adjunct professor in the Physics Department, Mohammad Amin. They are the first company to create a kind of commercial quantum computer. Other professors collaborate with algorithm-focused 1QBit, another quantum startup in Vancouver. And there are others on the application side, thinking about cryptography and about adapting the quantum algorithms we know now to areas like health care and finance.

And more fundamentally SFU has lots of history in the field of “quantum foundations,” improving our understanding of various interpretations of quantum mechanics (this is related to all that stuff about the so-called “multiverse”). It is exciting to be part of this space right now, because there is a lot of cross-pollination.

Q: How does this translate into real-world benefits today?

In analogy to classical computers, we are kind of at the point when the original transistor was built. It has taken 40 years for it to get to the point where we have these supercomputers—smartphones—in our pockets. And the Internet existed for a long time before most people even knew about it, and now none of us can breathe without it. I imagine quantum technologies will likely follow a similar trajectory, but maybe with a more targeted focus.

That said, people working on the pen-and-paper algorithms can already identify areas where we can expect quantum computing to unlock a lot of potential. Finance is one. And cryptography as we know it will be completely different: quantum computers can very efficiently take apart most of our current encryption standards, and they also offer better (physically unhackable!) encryption.

Chemical simulations are another natural application area. Chemicals themselves are quantum objects, and classical techniques of modelling them are inherently bad in some ways. So we will be able to get a much better look at how one molecule interacts with another. I imagine drug development will be a much better process, and so will simulating the behaviour of materials.

Q: It sounds like this dovetails with work that we are doing around the Data for Good campaign.

Absolutely. Any research sector that relies on high-performance computing—directly or indirectly—could potentially benefit. A lot of application areas will probably even have “black box” advantages, where the quantum algorithm to solve a problem somehow works, but we do not exactly know how! We truly do not know yet what the impact will be. It is going to be a lot of fun to see how it shakes out.

See the SFU News story about SFU receiving $17 million to establish the Quantum Algorithms Institute.

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Facebook says remote working move could slow jobs growth in Ireland

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Facebook still plans to “aggressively” grow staff numbers in its European headquarters in Ireland but a company-wide policy allowing permanent remote work from other countries could slow that growth over time, its Irish chief said on Friday.

Ireland’s economy is hugely reliant on multinational firms that employ around one in eight Irish workers and any move to facilitate remote working abroad would add to the challenge already posed by a planned global corporate tax overhaul.

Facebook, which is one of Ireland’s largest such employers with around 3,000 full-time staff and another 3,000 contractors, will allow some workers to permanently relocate after more than a year of many working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligible employees in Facebook offices in Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom will be able to move to another one of those locations. U.S.-based staff can also move to Canada, it added.

Facebook Ireland’s Gareth Lambe said it was still working out how many Irish-based employees would be eligible to take advantage of the policy. Fewer than half of its staff are Irish nationals.

“We’re going to continue to grow aggressively,” he told national broadcaster RTE, citing a move in the next year or two to a new 57,000 square metre campus in Dublin that it intends to fill with 7,000 employees.

“This won’t have on balance a material impact on the growth of employment for Facebook in Ireland,” he said, referring to the remote working policy. “We have a target this year of adding about an additional 700 employees and we’re going to continue to do that and we’re going to continue to grow,”

“But this is a significant evolution and in the future over the coming years and decades, it is possible that the growth of jobs and numbers may not be as fast in Ireland as it would have been before it.”

Lambe said Facebook’s main Europe, Middle East and Africa decision makers will continue to be based in Dublin, meaning its corporate tax status will not change. However those permanently relocating abroad would no longer pay income tax in Ireland.

Responding to the move, Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said one of the consequences of the pandemic will be a lot more mobility of workers across national borders but that foreign direct investment will remain “an indispensable part” of Ireland’s economic model.

 

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Frances Kerry)

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Apple hires former BMW executive for car project

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Apple Inc has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division, to help its vehicle initiatives, Bloomberg News reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter.

Kranz will report to Apple veteran Doug Field, who led development of Tesla Inc’s mass-market Model 3 and now runs Apple’s car project, the report said.

Apple did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment.

The iPhone maker’s automotive efforts, known as Project Titan, have proceeded unevenly since 2014 when Apple first started designing its own vehicle from scratch.

In December, Apple said it was moving forward with its self-driving car technology and targeting to produce a passenger vehicle that could include its own breakthrough battery technology by 2024.

 

(Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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Amazon SideWalk in Canada

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Amazon is ready to initiate the sidewalk throughout the world including Canada. So many people are concerned about what exactly is a sidewalk and should you be concerned in any way?

Well to put it simply amazon sidewalk is a new way of communication where amazon creates a network by using its echo devices and other devices. What is going to happen is that these devices would be using your home’s internet connection and creating a small network for communication. Using the ring and echo devices this will be executed where they would be forming a bridge (as the company calls it) between the two devices. While these various bridges would be used to create networks.

Amazon said this is done for easier connections and simpler setups even when your wifi goes out. Which would allow you to use title trackers and find pets easily. You would not have to spend 500 dollars on those devices but rather just use this to get updated information on your belongings. This is going to get a lot of people hooked on the devices. Using your ring and echo devices without your own internet connection sounds pretty good but is there a hidden reason for amazon to become an ISP on its own well that is something only time will tell.

So now the question is should you be concerned about this?

Well if you own an amazon echo device you will have to ask Alexa to opt you out of it because this is going to come in as activated by default. This means that you will need to put in some effort to change this if for any reason you don’t want to be a part of this program.

There are tutorials online that would help you to opt-out of this by using your Alexa app on your phone.

Another concern is that this is not the first time a company has done something like this. Apple has enhanced the find my network in a similar manner with the introduction of air tags and have responsibility for finding phones, and things using other users devices that might not know that their device is being used in the process.

Well most common people that are using the internet nowadays are more concerned about the data that is being used by these huge corporations and who are they gathering and using the data for their personal and private benefits. Additionally are data sharing policies being used and met with proper standards. Creating a rule is one thing and following it is completely another.

What bodies are placing a check on whether the huge tech giants are following these steps or not? These are the big questions with few answers and to think that now the internet is being owned by one of these giants. I mean the real question everyone should be asking is how big can these giants become and what kind of influence they hold onto our lives in the future?

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