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Quantum computer a possibility in 10 years – News.com.au – NEWS.com.au

It looks like a prop from Doctor Who or Hollywood’s idea of a mad professor’s crazy invention.

But the glittering lump of steel sprouting foil-wrapped pipes balanced on a stack of books and magazines represents a revolution in computing that could change the world.

The 60cm tall machine housed in a cramped laboratory at the University of Sussex is a prototype ion qubit quantum computer.

Still a work in progress, it is designed to demonstrate technology that marks a leap forward in attempts to build unimaginably powerful computers based on the weird principles of quantum physics.

Scientists hope that in as little as 10 years they will be able to scale up the device to produce the first commercially available universal quantum computer capable of solving myriad different problems.

Quantum computers are the ultimate multi-taskers, carrying out many operations at once to work millions of times faster than conventional computers.

They could theoretically unravel incredibly complex problems in days that would take a modern supercomputer billions of years to solve, and transform fields such as finance, drug discovery, biochemistry, materials science and encryption.

A conventional computer stores “bits” of information as binary code sequences of zeroes and ones, but a quantum computer “qubit” can be a zero, a one, both a zero and a one, or an infinite number of values in between.

That is due to the strange ability of subatomic particles to be in more than one state at the same time, until they are observed or interfered with. Only then does one or other value materialise. In a similar way, a spinning coin hides its identity until a hand stops it to reveal a face that is heads or tails.

Speaking at the British Science Festival in Brighton, Professor Winfried Hensinger, who heads the university’s quantum technology lab, says even Albert Einstein was “freaked out” by quantum effects and called them “spooky”.

Then 10 to 20 years ago physicists started asked themselves whether it might be possible to build a quantum device that could perform certain computations “unbelievably fast”.

“What does unbelievably fast mean?” said Hensinger “Unbelievably fast means that it could calculate something that even the fastest supercomputer in the world would take billions of years to calculate in minutes, days or weeks.

“It means quantum computers can solve problems you couldn’t even dream about solving before.”

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Almost Every Cryptocurrency Is Tanking Right Now | Time.com

If you’re still pondering whether or not to invest in cryptocurrency, this should help you make up your mind.

Almost every single cryptocurrency in the world is tanking right now. Bitcoin lost over 11% in the 24-hours before time of writing, Ethereum and Litecoin had plunged almost 20%, and Ripple nosedived 14%. Some, like EOS and Qtum, had lost almost 40%. Among the larger coins, only Tetherthe 19th largest cryptocurrency by market capwas holding out with a 3.2% gain.

Here’s how the top end of the cryptocurrency market looked as of 11:31 PM ET on Sept. 4:

So what’s behind the crash?

On Monday morning, China said cryptocurrencies had seriously disrupted the economic and financial order and outlawed Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)also known as token salesthe means by which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture.

China’s ban hit the market especially hard in the immediate wake of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) warning against the legality of some ICOs, Tech Crunch reports.

The across-the-board tanking of cryptocurrencies also coincides with the latest provocative nuclear test by North Korea, suggesting traders are not betting on them as safe-haven assets in times of global turmoil.

Turns out it might be time to revert back to the old refrain: buy gold.

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Cryptocurrency boom stalls as regulators focus on ICOs …

The latest cryptocurrency boom is beginning to stall as regulators worldwide turn their attention to the initial coin offerings, which have driven a precipitous rise in the sectors market value reaching a high of $177bn (136bn).

The total value of the hundreds of tracked cryptocurrencies has fallen by more than 18% to $145bn since Fridays high, according to analytics site CoinMarketCap. The collapse seems to have been triggered by a ruling from the Chinese central bank that declared it illegal to raise money through launching new cryptocurrencies.

An initial coin offering (ICO) is a relatively recent innovation for cryptocurrency developers, and involves selling a number of cryptographic tokens to investors at the launch of the project. These tokens can represent almost anything, from another attempt to make a Bitcoin analogue to exclusive access to an app or service. They have been responsible for some big funding rounds: adblocking browser Braveraised $35m for its ICO, while an ICO for service designed to help ICOs raised more than $150m.

ICOs have even become popular enough for celebrities including Floyd Mayweather and Paris Hilton to jump on board. The hotel heiress has actually been involved in the area for more than a year, having met with the COO of prominent blockchain firm Ethereum in 2016.

Since the concept was first mooted, however, there have been concerns over its legality, with experts warning that selling a cryptographic token which entitles the holder to a share of profits in a business could be a violation of financial regulations.

Now, the Peoples Bank of China has confirmed just that. Individuals and organisations that have completed ICO fund raising should make arrangements to return funds, according to a joint statement from the bank, Chinas securities and banking regulators, and several other government departments.

Some experts still think the sector has hope. Zennon Kapron, director of the Shanghai-based financial technology consultancy Kapronasia, said he suspected regulators were putting the brakes on ICOs in order to better understand the phenomenon, but could ease off in the future.

Regulators globally are struggling to understand what ICOs are, what the risks are, and how to ring-fence and regulate them, he said. China, in many ways, is no different than the US or Singapore in saying: OK, we need to push back on these for now until we figure out how to deal with them. I think it will be slightly a temporary measure.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued its own ruling in July. While not as wide-ranging as the Chinese statement, it leaned in the same direction. The agency said: Depending on the facts and circumstances, the offering may involve the offer and sale of securities.

If that is the case, the offer and sale of virtual coins or tokens must itself be registered with the SEC, or be performed pursuant to an exemption from registration.

The SECs statement was prompted by the conclusion of its investigation into the biggest ICO failure to date, a 2016 experiment called the DAO which ended up losing millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrencies due to a bug in its software.

The SECs stance has also had a chilling effect on the creation of new ICOs in the US. At least two planned offerings have been put on hold as a result of the document. One, Harbour, said it was a pre-emptive action based on the projects conclusion that there is just too much uncertainty within our current model to forge ahead without some careful assessment and perhaps revision. Another, Protostarr, was cancelled after its chief executive was investigated by the SEC.

Those in the cryptocurrency sector believe a short period of overregulation will eventually be reversed as the merits of the technology become clear.

The initial coin offering is a new business model leveraging blockchain technology and it will remain, said Oliver Bussman, of the Switzerland-based Crypto Valley Association. This is not the end of the ICO absolutely not.

While some ICOs are unambiguously analogous to stocks and shares, many, such as those which offer resellable access to an application to the holders, are more novel, and may survive regulation unscathed.

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Why Marketers Need to Pay Attention to Cryptocurrency — Now – Entrepreneur

Although the technology is relatively new, cryptocurrency is already making waves in multiple industries. In fact, there are some who argue that it will change the face of finance and marketing forever.

Related: From $100 Million to Broke to Betting It All on Cryptocurrencies

Despite its relative infancy, cryptocurrency has already impacted the marketing world pretty significantly, even as experts work to understand the risks and benefits involved. Here are some reasons you should be paying attention to cryptocurrency, as well as some explanations of this groundbreaking technology, to get you started on mastering it.

Before you dive into why cryptocurrency is important for marketing, you need to understand what it is in the first place.

Cryptocurrency is a form of blockchain technology, the technology that bitcoin and other distributed ledger systems are based on. Basically a gigantic ledger of transactions, blockchain is an open and shared database that operates in a decentralized network format. It allows users to transfer and add information to it anonymously, without security compromises.

In other words, cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is an anonymous financial system that employs blockchain technology to operate. Instead of using a credit card to pay for an item online, users can use Bitcoin or another form of cryptocurrency. And it’s getting pretty popular — in November 2016, the market capitalization of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies reached $13.8 billion.

Related: 5 Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs Serious About Cryptocurrency

It’s important to remember that many uses of cryptocurrency in advertising are still a few years away, as there isn’t much happening in this area yet. However, there’s no harm in being ahead of the trend.

The use of cryptocurrency might make it more difficult for marketers to collect the kind of data on consumers that often informs advertising strategies. In this regard, 86 percent of internet users have tried to remove or decrease their digital footprint online; and cryptocurrency will make this more possible than ever, because it will deplete the amount of consumer data available

Currently, it’s pretty easy to collect huge amounts of information on potential customers to attract leads. This is largely because the platform you use, like Facebook or Google, owns the data and sells it to you. Marketers can use this information to figure out audience segments, test which ads work better than others, predict customer behavior and more.

With cryptocurrency, however, many leads and buyer information will become anonymous, secure and encrypted — making it difficult for marketers to figure out who bought what, and how customers are responding to marketing tactics. Individuals will be in more control over their personal information, which could make it nearly impossible for marketers to gather it and design marketing strategies accordingly.

For these reasons, marketers need to start figuring out new ways to collect information to inform their strategies, if they want to keep up with consumer wants and needs.

One way marketers could navigate the potential lack of consumer data is by paying users directly for their personal information, to be allowed to market to them online, instead of paying the platforms they use.

Since the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrency means that no single entity can own or control networks, users will be in control. Cryptocurrency itself further complicates this picture, as businesses eventually will be unable to tell who bought what product or service. Companies may need to pay users directly for their information and for the opportunity to market to them, instead of platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

For instance, new social media platforms like 21.co and Steem (which has over 30,000 current user accounts and is growing) allows marketers to engage with users for the opportunity to get the purchasing and other personal information about them that would otherwise be unavailable due to cryptocurrency. Businesses have to do the legwork to reach out to users, and the users can then decide if they want to engage.

The tricky part here is that the average customer is going to want more compensation for his or her purchasing and other information than a platform might charge for that same information now. The plus side, however, is that if the customer allows you to access his or her information, that person is more likely to be interested in your brand.

We know that discussions on cryptocurrency involve a lot of hypotheticals, largely because we don’t yet completely understand what it’s going to do to marketing.

Related: 6 Cryptocurrencies You Should Know About (and None of Them Are Bitcoin)

However, although cryptocurrency may not affect your own business marketing model, it’s a strong representation for where digital trends are heading in the next few years. Even if the changes aren’t as dramatic as now believed, it’s a good idea to prepare and explore the potential of cryptocurrency so that you aren’t taken by surprise.

What are some other ways you think cryptocurrency might affect marketing in coming years?

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Putin-Backed Political Group Advances ‘Green’ Cryptocurrency Concept – CoinDesk

Members of a Russian political organization formed by President Vladimir Putin have announced plans to advocate for an eco-friendly cryptocurrency.

The All-Russia People’s Front, known as ONF and formed in 2011, recently organized a conference focused on the environment. It was there, according to the organization’s press service, that the plan for a cryptocurrency to be used to fund environmental causes was advanced.

Dmitry Mironov, one of the leaders of the ONF, said:

“We want the units of the cryptocurrency to be received by investors and enterprises that promote the development of environmental technologies. In our proposals, we will reflect our vision of the development of the green cryptocurrency in the country and we hope that the initiatives of the Popular Front will be included in the final version of the bill being drafted by the government.”

The proposal was put forward in the context of moves by the Russian government to prepare new regulations around the trade and exchange of cryptocurrencies. Last week, a senior member of the State Duma the national legislature suggested that work on the legislation could be completed by autumn, capping a multi-year process.

Whether the proposal actually advances in the government remains to be seen, however.

Russian officials, including those from the country’s central bank, have issued warnings on cryptocurrency investment in recent days. At the same time, one of Putin’s advisors is trying to raise as much as $100 million through an initial coin offering (ICO) to support a new crypto mining venture.

Putin image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is an independent media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. Have breaking news or a story tip to send to our journalists? Contact us at [emailprotected].

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Cryptocurrencies have already recovered from last weekend’s crash … – TechCrunch

When cryptocurrency markets crashed 20% a few days ago, I wrote the next day or so will tell us if this was a temporary bump in the road or the start of the next major correction.

Well here we are, a day or so later. And the temporary crash seems to have just been a bump in the road. The entire market cap of cryptocurrencies is up 16% from a low of $135B yesterday to $162B today.

Bitcoin is back above $4,600, which is about 13% higher than yesterday. Ethereum is trading around $333, which is 16% higher than the low it hit earlier this week.

Checking the chart below shows that results are pretty similar across the board. Most currencies are up double digits over the last 24 hours, bringing them close to where they were before the weekends crash.

There is one exception NEO, the Chinese-based ICO/cryptocurrency never recovered and is down 39% over the last week but this makes sense, because the crash was likely caused by Chinas ICO ban, which particularly affects NEO.

Of course extreme volatility is common in the cryptocurrency world even double-digit swings in major currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. But a market-wide crash that affects every single digital currency, like we saw over the weekend, is almost always a sign of some outside influence and not day-to-day volatility. In this case the influence was Chinas ICO crackdown.

Todays recovery shows that the cryptocurrency market (and accompanying valuations) is more resilient that some have thought.

While cryptocurrency investors are reluctant to admit it publicly, many think the rapid appreciation in value over the last few months is the sign of a bubble about to pop.Some of those same investors are hoping that rising valuations will actually come down a bit, to give the industry time to catch its collective breath.

Essentially this recovery reveals a cryptocurrency market resilient enough to withstand the shocks of government regulation, meaning that the steady climb of value continues.

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Microsoft just upped its multi-million bet on quantum computing – ZDNet

The Nordic outpost of Microsoft’s US-based quantum research lab, Station Q, will be headed by professor Charles Marcus, one of four scientists Microsoft hired last year.

Microsoft has tipped several million dollars into a new quantum computing R&D lab at Copenhagen University, Denmark.

Microsoft has signed a multi-year deal with the university to collaborate on the development of a general-purpose quantum computer. Microsoft’s staff will be working with the university’s Niels Bohr Institute.

The institute is headed up by professor Charles Marcus, one of four scientists Microsoft hired last year to accelerate its bet that it can create a scalable quantum computer.

Marcus runs the institute’s Center for Quantum Devices (QDev) and the partnership establishes the university as a Nordic outpost of Microsoft’s US-based quantum research lab, Station Q. QDev will be home to Station Q Copenhagen, alongside Station Q labs at the University of Sydney, Purdue University, and Delft University.

Instead of conventional transistor’s on or off state, represented by 1 and 0, a quantum computer’s bits, called qubits, are based on quantum particles and can be both on and off at the same time. That characteristic offers the potential for far more powerful computers.

Microsoft is betting that topological quantum computing holds the key to creating a stable qubit. Topology, or the mathematical study of shapes and space, is gaining more attention among quantum computing researchers.

As noted in Nature, Microsoft’s approach aims to encode qubits in a quasiparticle called ‘non-abelian anyons’ that emerge from interactions inside matter. It hopes to use their topological properties, which make qubits more stable, to create its general-purpose quantum computer.

According to Copenhagen University, Microsoft now has over a dozen employees located there and expects the team to grow as they work toward developing a topological quantum computer.

On top of the multi-million dollar investment, Microsoft has also agreed to “significant” quantum research funding at the university.

“The critical pillars for successful and productive quantum research already exist at the University of Copenhagen – an aligned vision between Microsoft and the university, an exceptional team of top quantum researchers, a broad and deep pool of post doctorate and student talent, and a solid baseline of facilities and equipment dedicated to quantum research,” said David Pritchard, chief of staff for the Artificial Intelligence and Research division at Microsoft.

Report: Google takes steps to commercialize quantum computing

Google is reportedly giving researchers access to its quantum computers with the ultimate aim of using quantum computing for cloud services.

Microsoft’s next big bet? Clue: it’s just hired four top quantum computing scientists

Microsoft says it’s doubling down on quantum computing after nabbing four top scientists who will work with a Microsoft hardware veteran to turn research into reality.

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Microsoft’s Aussie quantum computing lab set to scale up next-gen … – ARNnet

University of Sydney and Microsoft collaborators in front of Station Q’s dilution fridge (University of Sydney)

Microsofts Station Q quantum computing lab at the University of Sydney is set to embark on a new chapter in its research, moving to scale up its next generation of quantum-engineered devices.

The devices in question will form the heart of what the Microsoft-backed lab claims is the first practical topological quantum computers.

By now, the idea behind quantum computing is fairly well established. Unlike classical computing, which uses digital bits as binary switches to carry out calculations, quantum computing makes use of the unusual properties of subatomic quantum bits or qubits to perform calculations.

A topological quantum computer employs qubits using subatomic particles called Majorana fermions, a particle that is also its own antiparticle, will have their information encoded through their topology, or geometry.

The first generation of quantum bits suffers from interference from electromagnetic noise. This means they lack robustness and are proving very difficult to scale up to a fault-tolerant, universal quantum computer.

It has long been theorised that Majorana fermions could help scientists to build more robust quantum computers. Indeed, Station Q researchers suggest that by braiding the Majoranas, quantum information is encoded in a way that is highly resistant to interference.

As it turns out, a new study by Dr Maja Cassidy, who is based at the University of Sydneys Station Q lab, has confirmed one of the prerequisites for building these devices.

Now, researchers at Sydneys Station Q lab are set to build the next generation of devices that will use Majorana fermions as the basis for quantum computers.

In preparation, Station Q will move scientific equipment into the universitys Nanoscience Hub clean rooms over the next few months as it increases capacity to develop quantum machines.

Cassidy said that building such quantum devices is a bit like going on a detective hunt.

When Majorana fermions were first shown to exist in 2012, there were many who said there could be other explanations for the findings, she said.

The challenge to show that the latest findings were caused by Majoranas was put to a research team led by Professor Leo Kouwenhoven, who now leads Microsofts Station Q lab in the Netherlands.

The new research paper, published on 7 September, meets an essential part of that challenge.

In essence, the research aims to prove that electrons on a one-dimensional semiconducting nanowire will have a quantum spin opposite to its momentum in a finite magnetic field.

This information is consistent with previous reports observing Majorana fermions in these nanowires, Cassidy said.

Cassidy conducted the research while at the Technical University Delft in the Netherlands, where she held a post-doctorate position.

She has since returned to Australia and is based at the University of Sydney Station Q partnership with Microsoft.

For University of Sydney Professor and Station Q Sydney director, David Reilly, the Majorana fermion work being undertaken by Cassidy and Australian lab is practical science at the cutting-edge.

We have hired Dr Cassidy because her ability to fabricate next-generation quantum devices is second to none, Reilly said.

The new research comes just over a month after Microsoft revealed it had gone all in on its quantum computing research partnership with the University of Sydney, striking a multi-year global agreement with the institution.

The deal sees Microsoft commit to a new, long-term phase of its investment at the university, with the funding expected to result in state-of-the-art equipment, see the recruitment of new staff, help build out the nations scientific and engineering talent, and focus research project funding into the university.

In April, Microsoft revealed it would double the size of the lab, in a move expected to see at least 20 additional researchers come on board.

Quantum computing has largely been relegated to the realm of research by the likes of Station Q and other such university-affiliated labs.

However, in August, the University of NSW (UNSW) made a move to commercialise its quantum computing technology with the launch of what is being touted as Australias first quantum computing company.

The $83 million venture, from which the new company, Silicon Quantum Computing Pty Ltd, emerged, has received backing from UNSW itself, which has contributed $25 million, as well as the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Telstra, which are contributing $14 million and $10 million, respectively.

The creation of the company is intended to help drive the development and commercialisation of a 10-qubit quantum integrated circuit prototype in silicon by 2022, as the forerunner to a silicon-based quantum computer.

The company will work alongside the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology (CQC2T), operating from new laboratories within the Centres UNSW headquarters.

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