Links for 2019-09-26

  • Scott Aaronson on Google’s quantum supremacy leaked paper

    It seems a paper between Google and NASA accidentally leaked a couple of days ago, saying that a group at Google has now achieved quantum computational supremacy with a 53-qubit superconducting device. According to Scott Aaronson, a noted quantum-computation expert, this is a Big Deal and a significant moment in scientific progress:

    It’s like, have a little respect for the immensity of what we’re talking about here, and for the terrifying engineering that’s needed to make it reality. Before quantum supremacy, by definition, the QC skeptics can all laugh to each other that, for all the billions of dollars spent over 20+ years, still no quantum computer has even once been used to solve any problem faster than your laptop could solve it, or at least not in any way that depended on its being a quantum computer. In a post-quantum-supremacy world, that’s no longer the case. A superposition involving 250 or 260 complex numbers has been computationally harnessed, using time and space resources that are minuscule compared to 250 or 260. I keep bringing up the Wright Flyer only because the chasm between what we’re talking about, and the dismissiveness I’m seeing in some corners of the Internet, is kind of breathtaking to me. It’s like, if you believed that useful air travel was fundamentally impossible, then seeing a dinky wooden propeller plane keep itself aloft wouldn’t refute your belief … but it sure as hell shouldn’t reassure you either.

    (tags: google programming quantum-computing qubits future science qc history research)

  • Isolating workloads with Systemd slices

    Systemd supports docker-like cgroups isolation, it seems, and ScyllaDB can take advantage of that

    (tags: systemd cgroups process-isolation linux containerisation scylladb ops)

  • GNOME Foundation facing lawsuit from Rothschild Patent Imaging

    Software patents are a cancer. ‘The GNOME Foundation has been made aware of a lawsuit from Rothschild Patent Imaging, LLC over patent 9,936,086. Rothschild allege that Shotwell, a free and open source personal photo manager infringes this patent. Neil McGovern, Executive Director for the GNOME Foundation says “We have retained legal counsel and intend to vigorously defend against this baseless suit.”’

    (tags: software-patents swpats shotwell gnome linux open-source patents)

  • IPCC Report: Oceans Face ‘Unprecedented Conditions’

    The IPCC report on the ocean is full of utterly disastrous science. One example:

    The dangerous changes to the ocean don’t even begin to address the impacts of rising seas. Under all climate change scenarios, coastal areas will see what the report euphemistically calls “extreme sea level events”—that would be floods to you and me—that were once once-in-a-century will become annual occurrences by century’s end. But devastating effects will impact unnumbered people far sooner. “Many low-lying megacities and small islands (including SIDS) are projected to experience historical centennial events at least annually by 2050,” the report authors wrote.
    Bottom line: ‘The world has shown little appetite to take a collaborative approach to these types of adaptation projects let alone drawing down emissions to-date, but the tide will have to turn if humanity is to have any chance of staying above water.’

    (tags: climate-change climate oceans sea-level disasters future 2050)

  • Green New Deal critics are missing the bigger picture

    This Vox article absolutely nails what we are facing, and why there’s no longer any room to _not_ implement a Green New Deal world wide.

    New EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler recently dismissed the latest IPCC report as being based on a “worst-case scenario,” which is darkly ironic, since the report is all about the dangers that lie between 1.5 and 2 degrees of warming. But 2 degrees is not the worst-case scenario. It is among the best-case scenarios. The UN thinks we’re headed for somewhere around 4 degrees by 2100. Believing that we can limit temperature rise to 2 degrees — a level of warming scientists view as catastrophic — now counts as wild-haired optimism. […] Two degrees would be terrible, but it’s better than three, at which point Southern Europe would be in permanent drought, African droughts would last five years on average, and the areas burned annually by wildfires in the United States could quadruple, or worse, from last year’s million-plus acres. And three degrees is much better than four, at which point six natural disasters could strike a single community simultaneously; the number of climate refugees, already in the millions, could grow tenfold, or 20-fold, or more; and, globally, damages from warming could reach $600?trillion — about double all the wealth that exists in the world today. The worst-case scenario, which, contra Wheeler, is virtually never discussed in polite political circles in the US, is, as Wallace-Wells quotes famed naturalist David Attenborough saying, “the collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world.” That is alarming and, if you must, “alarmist,” but as Wallace-Wells says, “being alarmed is not a sign of being hysterical; when it comes to climate change, being alarmed is what the facts demand.” […] Choosing to continue down our present path is madness. Nihilism. It is not “moderation.”

    (tags: activism climate-change climate green-new-deal green future ipcc david-attenborough nihilism politics)

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