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The Era of Quantum Computing Is Here. Outlook: Cloudy …

A lot of research on the fundamentals of quantum computing has been devoted to error correction. Part of the difficulty stems from another of the key properties of quantum systems: Superpositions can only be sustained as long as you dont measure the qubits value. If you make a measurement, the superposition collapses to a definite value: 1 or 0. So how can you find out if a qubit has an error if you dont know what state it is in?

One ingenious scheme involves looking indirectly, by coupling the qubit to another ancilla qubit that doesnt take part in the calculation but that can be probed without collapsing the state of the main qubit itself. Its complicated to implement, though. Such solutions mean that, to construct a genuine logical qubit on which computation with error correction can be performed, you need many physical qubits.

How many? Quantum theorist Aln Aspuru-Guzik of Harvard University estimates that around 10,000 of todays physical qubits would be needed to make a single logical qubit a totally impractical number. If the qubits get much better, he said, this number could come down to a few thousand or even hundreds. Eisert is less pessimistic, saying that on the order of 800 physical qubits might already be enough, but even so he agrees that the overhead is heavy, and for the moment we need to find ways of coping with error-prone qubits.

An alternative to correcting errors is avoiding them or canceling out their influence: so-called error mitigation. Researchers at IBM, for example, are developing schemes for figuring out mathematically how much error is likely to have been incurred in a computation and then extrapolating the output of a computation to the zero noise limit.

Some researchers think that the problem of error correction will prove intractable and will prevent quantum computers from achieving the grand goals predicted for them. The task of creating quantum error-correcting codes is harder than the task of demonstrating quantum supremacy, said mathematician Gil Kalai of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel. And he adds that devices without error correction are computationally very primitive, and primitive-based supremacy is not possible. In other words, youll never do better than classical computers while youve still got errors.

Others believe the problem will be cracked eventually. According to Jay Gambetta, a quantum information scientist at IBMs Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Our recent experiments at IBM have demonstrated the basicelementsof quantum error correction onsmalldevices, paving the way towards larger-scaledevices where qubits canreliablystorequantum informationfor a long period of time inthepresence of noise. Even so, he admits that a universal fault-tolerant quantum computer, which has to use logical qubits, is still along way off. Such developments make Childs cautiously optimistic. Im sure well see improved experimental demonstrations of [error correction], but I think it will be quite a while before we see it used for a real computation, he said.

For the time being, quantum computers are going to be error-prone, and the question is how to live with that. At IBM, researchers are talking about approximate quantum computing as the way the field will look in the near term: finding ways of accommodating the noise.

This calls for algorithms that tolerate errors, getting the correct result despite them. Its a bit like working out the outcome of an election regardless of a few wrongly counted ballot papers. A sufficiently large and high-fidelity quantum computation should have some advantage [over a classical computation] even if it is not fully fault-tolerant, said Gambetta.

One of the most immediate error-tolerant applications seems likely to be of more value to scientists than to the world at large: to simulate stuff at the atomic level. (This, in fact, was the motivation that led Feynman to propose quantum computing in the first place.) The equations of quantum mechanics prescribe a way to calculate the properties such as stability and chemical reactivity of a molecule such as a drug. But they cant be solved classically without making lots of simplifications.

In contrast, the quantum behavior of electrons and atoms, said Childs, is relatively close to the native behavior of a quantum computer. So one could then construct an exact computer model of such a molecule. Many in the community, including me, believe that quantum chemistry and materials science will be one of the first usefulapplications of such devices, said Aspuru-Guzik, who has been at the forefront of efforts to push quantum computing in this direction.

Quantum simulations are proving their worth even on the very small quantum computers available so far. A team of researchers including Aspuru-Guzik has developed an algorithm that they call the variational quantum eigensolver (VQE), which can efficiently find the lowest-energy states of molecules even with noisy qubits. So far it can only handle very small molecules with few electrons, which classical computers can already simulate accurately. But the capabilities are getting better, as Gambetta and coworkers showed last September when they used a 6-qubit device at IBM to calculate the electronic structures of molecules, including lithium hydride and beryllium hydride. The work was a significant leap forward for the quantum regime, according to physical chemist Markus Reiher of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland. The use of the VQE for the simulation of small molecules is a great example of the possibility of near-term heuristic algorithms, said Gambetta.

But even for this application, Aspuru-Guzik confesses that logical qubits with error correction will probably be needed before quantum computers truly begin to surpass classical devices. I would be really excited when error-corrected quantum computing begins to become a reality, he said.

If we had more than 200 logical qubits, we could do things in quantum chemistry beyond standard approaches, Reiher adds. And if we had about 5,000 such qubits, then the quantum computer would be transformative in this field.

Despite the challenges of reaching those goals, the fast growth of quantum computers from 5 to 50 qubits in barely more than a year has raised hopes. But we shouldnt get too fixated on these numbers, because they tell only part of the story. What matters is not just or even mainly how many qubits you have, but how good they are, and how efficient your algorithms are.

Any quantum computation has to be completed before decoherence kicks in and scrambles the qubits. Typically, the groups of qubits assembled so far have decoherence times of a few microseconds. The number of logic operations you can carry out during that fleeting moment depends on how quickly the quantum gates can be switched if this time is too slow, it really doesnt matter how many qubits you have at your disposal. The number of gate operations needed for a calculation is called its depth: Low-depth (shallow) algorithms are more feasible than high-depth ones, but the question is whether they can be used to perform useful calculations.

Whats more, not all qubits are equally noisy. In theory it should be possible to make very low-noise qubits from so-called topological electronic states of certain materials, in which the shape of the electron states used for encoding binary information confers a kind of protection against random noise. Researchers at Microsoft, most prominently, are seeking such topological states in exotic quantum materials, but theres no guarantee that theyll be found or will be controllable.

Researchers at IBM have suggested that the power of a quantum computation on a given device be expressed as a number called the quantum volume, which bundles up all the relevant factors: number and connectivity of qubits, depth of algorithm, and other measures of the gate quality, such as noisiness. Its really this quantum volume that characterizes the power of a quantum computation, and Gambetta said that the best way forward right now is to develop quantum-computational hardware that increases the available quantum volume.

This is one reason why the much vaunted notion of quantum supremacy is more slippery than it seems. The image of a 50-qubit (or so) quantum computer outperforming a state-of-the-art supercomputer sounds alluring, but it leaves a lot of questions hanging. Outperforming for which problem? How do you know the quantum computer has got the right answer if you cant check it with a tried-and-tested classical device? And how can you be sure that the classical machine wouldnt do better if you could find the right algorithm?

So quantum supremacy is a concept to handle with care. Some researchers prefer now to talk about quantum advantage, which refers to the speedup that quantum devices offer without making definitive claims about what is best. An aversion to the word supremacy has also arisen because of the racial and political implications.

Whatever you choose to call it, a demonstration that quantum computers can do things beyond current classical means would be psychologically significant for the field. Demonstrating an unambiguous quantum advantage will be an important milestone, said Eisert it would prove that quantum computers really can extend what is technologically possible.

That might still be more of a symbolic gesture than a transformation in useful computing resources. But such things may matter, because if quantum computing is going to succeed, it wont be simply by the likes of IBM and Google suddenly offering their classy new machines for sale. Rather, itll happen through an interactive and perhaps messy collaboration between developers and users, and the skill set will evolve in the latter only if they have sufficient faith that the effort is worth it. This is why both IBM and Google are keen to make their devices available as soon as theyre ready. As well as a 16-qubit IBM Q experience offered to anyone who registers online, IBM now has a 20-qubit version for corporate clients, including JP Morgan Chase, Daimler, Honda, Samsung and the University of Oxford. Not only will that help clients discover whats in it for them; it should create a quantum-literate community of programmers who will devise resources and solve problems beyond what any individual company could muster.

For quantum computing to take traction and blossom, we must enable the world to use and to learn it, said Gambetta. This period is for the world of scientists and industry to focus on getting quantum-ready.

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Cryptocurrency Price Prediction, Comparison, Analysis

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This is what a 50-qubit quantum computer looks like

That’s where the pumps would normally come in. From top to bottom, the system gradually cools from four Kelvin — liquid-helium temperatures — to 800 milliKelvin, 100 milliKelvin and, finally, 10 milliKelvin. Inside the canister, that’s 10 thousandths of a degree above absolute zero. The wires, meanwhile, carry RF-frequency signals down to the chip. These are then mapped onto the qubits, executing whatever program the research team wishes to run. The wiring is also designed in a way to ensure that no extraneous noise — including heat — is transported to the quantum computer chip at the bottom.

Many in the industry have suggested that a 50-qubit system could achieve “quantum supremacy.” The term refers to the moment when a quantum computer is able to outperform a traditional system or accomplish a task otherwise thought impossible. The problem, though, is that quantum computers are only compatible with certain algorithms. They’re well-suited to quantum chemistry, for instance, and material simulations. But it’s unlikely you’ll ever use a quantum computer to complete a PowerPoint presentation. “The world is not classical, it’s quantum, so if you want to simulate it you need a quantum computer,” Welser said.

Researchers have already conducted experiments with quantum computers. Scientists at IBM were able to simulate beryllium hydride (BeH2) on a seven-qubit quantum processor last September, for example. But critics want to see a quantum computer accomplish something more tangible, which is more meaningful for the everyday consumer. That day, unfortunately, could still be a long way off.

“Somewhere between 50 and 100 qubits, we’ll reach the point where we can at least say very clearly, ‘I’ve just simulated a molecule here in a few minutes time that would have taken this giant system five days to do.’ That level we’ll be at fairly rapidly. When it gets to something that the public will understand in terms of an application they would use themselves, I can’t really speculate at this point,” Welser said.

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Skype finally getting end-to-end encryption | Ars Technica

Since its inception, Skype has been notable for its secretive, proprietary algorithm. It’s also long had a complicated relationship with encryption: encryption is used by the Skype protocol, but the service has never been clear exactly how that encryption was implemented or exactly which privacy and security features it offers.

That changes today in a big way. The newest Skype preview now supports the Signal protocol: the end-to-end encrypted protocol already used by WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Google Allo, and, of course, Signal. Skype Private Conversations will support text, audio calls, and file transfers, with end-to-end encryption that Microsoft, Signal, and, it’s believed, law enforcement agencies cannot eavesdrop on.

Presently, Private Conversations are only available in the Insider builds of Skype. Naturally, the Universal Windows Platform version of the appthe preferred version on Windows 10isn’t yet supported. In contrast, the desktop version of the app, along with the iOS, Android, Linux, and macOS clients, all have compatible Insider builds. Private Conversations aren’t the default and don’t appear to yet support video calling. The latter limitation shouldn’t be insurmountable (Signal’s own app offers secure video calling). We hope to see the former change once updated clients are stable and widely deployed.

We’ve criticized Skype’s failure to provide this kind of security in the past. Skype still has valuable features, such as its interoperability with traditional phone networks and additional tools for TV and radio broadcasters. But its tardiness at adopting this kind of technology left Skype behind its peers. The adoption of end-to-end security is very welcome, and the decision to do so using the Signal protocol, rather than yet another proprietary Skype protocol, marks a change from the product’s history.

Although Skype remains widely used, mobile-oriented upstarts like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger rapidly surpassed it. Becoming secure and trustworthy is a necessary development, but whether or not it’s going to be sufficient to reinvigorate the application is far from clear.

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FBI chief says phone encryption is a ‘major public safety issue’

Wray urged the private sector to work with the government in finding “a way forward quickly,” insisting that the FBI isn’t interested in peeking into ordinary citizens’ devices. The bureau just wants access to the ones owned by suspects. That pretty much echoes Comey’s position during his time — if you’ll recall the FBI asked tech titans to create a backdoor into their software and phones in order to give authorities a way to open them during investigations. Apple chief Tim Cook said the request had “chilling” and “dangerous” implications, warning that companies wouldn’t be able to control how that backdoor is used.

Wray told the audience at the event that authorities face an increasing number of cases that rely on electronic evidence. He doesn’t buy companies claims that it’s impossible to find a way for encryption to be more law enforcement-friendly, so to speak. Not that the FBI can’t do anything if it absolutely has to: when Apple refused to cooperate with authorities to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, the agency paid a third party almost a million to get the job done.

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South Korea’s major cryptocurrency exchanges … – reuters.com

SEOUL (Reuters) – With a tech-savvy population quick to adopt the latest gadgets and a young generation facing dim prospects in the conventional workplace, South Korea has been a fertile ground for virtual currencies.

But the countrys swift embrace of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has been met with an equally swift backlash by regulators, who have gone so far as to propose outright bans on trading.

With markets around the world watching, South Korea has become a fault line between a generation that sees cryptocurrencies as a way to a better life, and government officials who have likened the market to gambling and warned that it encourages illicit behavior.

On Thursday the justice minister, Park Sang-ki, sent global bitcoin prices temporarily plummeting and virtual coin markets into turmoil when he said regulators were preparing legislation to halt cryptocurrency trading.

As of Friday, a petition on the website of the presidential Blue House had drawn more than 120,000 signatures opposing the move. Heavy internet traffic briefly crashed the site.

The online uprising against the governments plans puts President Moon Jae-in a tough spot, and his office was quick to say a ban is just one proposal under consideration.

The latest idea to ban it all seems to have come out of a fear that when the bubble bursts and things go wrong, it will be all on the government, said Yun Chang-hyun, an economics professor at University of Seoul.

With the youth unemployment rate three times the national average and a growing income gap between rich and poor, many young Koreans worry about their economic prospects.

Tax it as much as you want but dont shut it down. My life depends on it, one petitioner wrote on the Blue House website.

Lee Min-kyung, a 25-year old student in a Seoul-based graduate school said she earned about 18 million won (16,973.93), double her initial investment in bitcoin. She said the government is showing haphazard responses simply because officials have no idea.

They say the purpose of the regulation is to curb speculative moves, but it makes me just think the government simply doesnt understand what the market is, Lee said.

More than 30 percent of 941 office workers surveyed in December by Saramin, a South Korea-based job portal, said they traded cryptocurrencies. The respondents had an average of 5.7 million won ($5,357.14) invested in virtual currencies, and a majority of them said they began trading because they saw it as the fastest way to earn money.

That trend has earned critics on the street as well as in government offices.

Koh Young-sam, a 56-year old mechanic in Seoul, warned that the craze would collapse.

Young people shouldnt be lured into this kind of scam. There is always something fishy about things that grow this fast, Koh said.

South Korea is not alone in struggling to figure out how to tax and regulate online currencies, many of which are designed to provide anonymity for transactions.

In September last year, China cracked down on cryptocurrency trading, citing what officials saw as broader risks to the countrys economy.

As South Korea accounts for about 15 percent of global bitcoin trading, according to the website Coinhills.com, how regulators approach the issue will likely have international effects.

The local price of bitcoin in South Korea bounced back on Friday to 19.3 million won ($17,481.20) from as low as 17.5 million won ($16,445.82) according to Bithumb, the nations second-largest cryptocurrency exchange. On the Luxembourg-based Bitstamp, bitcoin stood at $13,709 after touching $12,800 the prior day.

Park Chong-hoon, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank in Seoul, said, South Koreans find it hard to deal with the jealousy from watching their neighbours getting rich fast.

It is a sentiment echoed by many. Scepticism of get-rich-quick schemes among South Korean officials has colored past forays by international finance into the country.

In the mid-2000s the U.S. private equity fund Lone Star faced raids of its offices and a years-long legal battle with the South Korean government after the foreign fund made millions of dollars buying and selling a controlling stake in a major South Korean bank.

That controversy, which raised concerns over South Korean money flowing to foreign entities, is probably among several factors making South Korea officials wary of managing the new breed of markets originated abroad, analysts said.

In a practical sense, the South Korean government needs to factor in some political aspects if a growing number of people lose huge sums of money on bitcoin because of the governments failed attempts to rein in the frenzy, people will blame the government, Lee Dong-gwi, a psychology professor at Yonsei University. Simply put, the South Korean government could be afraid of the political hassles of being held accountable.

Additional reporting by Dahee Kim; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Gerry Doyle

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Cryptocurrency – IC Markets

Unlike other asset classes (FX, Equities, Commodities, etc.), the Cryptocurrency market is dominated by retail speculators. With Cryptocurrencies, youll trade in a market where there is no central bank intervention, interbank dealers controlling order flow or giant pension funds moving prices.

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The following Cryptocurrencies are available totrade with IC Markets

The first and largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin paved the ways for hundreds of similar currencies and boasts a market cap of over $100 billion.

The world’s second-largest cryptocurrency, it is labelled by many as “the next Bitcoin”. Ethereum has received international recognition and support from giant organisations such as Microsoft, JP Morgan, and Intel.

Designed by a former Google engineer to improve upon Bitcoin’s technology, Litecoin offers quicker processing times and a larger number of tokens. It is also the first cryptocurrency to implement SegWit, a method of speeding up transaction times without compromising the underlying blockchain technology.

Dash’s focus is on instant transactions and owner privacy. Dash has an infrastructure that enables much faster transactions than other Cryptocurrencies and therefore displays higher liquidity than many of its counterparts.

Bitcoin Cash resulted from a hard fork of the Bitcoin blockchain. It increased block size from 1 megabyte to 8 megabytes without incorporating SegWit.

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Cryptocurrency – IC Markets

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Bitcoin-crazy South Korea may face a ban on cryptocurrency …

The South Korean government is preparing a bill to ban trading in all cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, Justice Minister Park Sang-ki said Thursday.

“There are great concerns regarding virtual money,” Park told reporters in Seoul. “The government has repeatedly warned about the fact that it is a very dangerous transaction but the message has not properly been delivered,” he said.

Park didn’t give details on when the bill would be introduced in parliament. But his comments prompted bitcoin to fall sharply. The digital currency, which is known for its volatility, dropped around 14% before recovering slightly in early afternoon trading in Asia.

Related: South Korea is going bitcoin crazy

Ethereum, another cryptocurrency hugely popular in South Korea, also fell 14%.

A frenzy of cryptocurrency trading swept South Korea last year, helping propel huge gains in bitcoin and other virtual coins. The country has accounted for as much as a fifth of global bitcoin trade on some days in recent months.

But the country’s government has been moving toward greater regulation of digital currencies in recent weeks, introducing a new law in late December that gives authorities the power to shut down bitcoin exchanges.

Such moves remain a possibility, Park said, before likening cryptocurrency trading to speculation and gambling.

“The government’s basic position is that virtual currency trading is extremely dangerous and the bubble may burst anytime,” he said.

Related: Jamie Dimon regrets calling bitcoin a ‘fraud’

The exchanges where people trade digital currencies have also come under scrutiny from South Korean authorities. Bithumb, one of the biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, said it was visited by tax officials this week.

Another exchange, Coinone, is being investigated on suspicion of facilitating illegal gambling through cryptocurrencies, South Korean police told CNNMoney.

Coinone couldn’t be reached for comment.

Related: Kodak to launch cryptocurrency, stock pops 125%

South Korea’s plans to rein in digital currency trading come after China cracked down on the practice last year.

Beijing announced new regulations on bitcoin in September, prompting many of the country’s top exchanges to stop trading it and causing its price to crash.

— Taehoon Lee contributed to this report

CNNMoney (New Delhi) First published January 11, 2018: 1:23 AM ET

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