Honeywell unveils ‘highest performing quantum computer available’

19 Jun 2020

The new Honeywell quantum computer. Image: Honeywell

This week in future tech, Honeywell is making the claim that its latest quantum computer is the most powerful on the planet yet.

Honeywell may have kept the promise it made in March to release the world’s most powerful supercomputer by the middle of this year. In a statement, the company said its latest commercially available machine has a quantum volume of 64 – twice that of its competitors.

Quantum volume is a metric used to define the quality of quantum bits (qubits), meaning the more volume it has, the faster it can solve a problem.

“What makes our quantum computers so powerful is having the highest quality qubits, with the lowest error rates,” said Tony Uttley, president of Honeywell Quantum Solutions. “This is a combination of using identical, fully connected qubits and precision control.”

Earlier this year, IBM revealed a quantum computer with a quantum volume of 32. This came after Google stirred controversy in the computer science community by claiming its own machine had achieved “quantum supremacy”.

Both companies have been engaged in a war of words over the definition of quantum supremacy and how powerful their systems are, which one quantum physicist described as “obviously a pissing contest”.

Bus Éireann to trial hydrogen buses

Double-decker hydrogen buses are set to undergo trials on Irish roads early next year, according to the Dublin Inquirer.

A spokesperson for the National Transport Authority (NTA) confirmed that initial September 2020 trials planned for three buses were pushed out because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The buses will be tested on the 103 route from Dublin city to Ratoath, Co Meath.

A Bus Éireann spokesperson said this route “combines typical urban start-stop operation and higher speed outer-urban operation, and therefore allows trialling of zero emissions capability in both scenarios”.

Following previous testing of electric, hybrid and diesel hybrid buses, the NTA aims to assess “the distance they are able to cover on a single tank of fuel and the speed at which, and ease with which, they can be refuelled”.

Vehicles with hydrogen fuel cells convert pressurised hydrogen into electricity and water through electrolysis, meaning the only emission from the vehicle is water vapour. However, concerns have been raised over the sourcing of hydrogen fuel, which can include methods using fossil fuels.

Telecoms group to hold ‘global dialogue’ on e-sports

The Global Esports Federation (GEF) has become a member of International Telecommunications Union (ITU) standardisation arm to launch a global dialogue on the new partnerships emerging in support of the competitive e-sports industry.

E-sports have come to enjoy an audience of more than 450m people, with revenues exceeding $1bn per year and growing at an annual rate well over 20pc, according to the ITU. The Global Dialogue on Esports will launch on 24 June with the aim of establishing international standards and guidelines for the e-sports ecosystem.

It will also discuss actions required to support e-sports competitors and fans in greater, sustainable participation.

“All industries are innovating with ICTs, but ICTs have enabled the emergence of an entirely new industry in e-sports,” said ITU secretary general Houlin Zhao.

“By joining ITU, the GEF has signalled the intent of the e-sports industry to build its future on the reliability offered by international standards, in concert with the diverse ITU membership.”

AI can now re-create how a famous painting was made

A team from MIT’s Computer Science and AI Laboratory (CSAIL) has developed a machine learning system that can take an image of a finished painting and create a timelapse video depicting how it was most likely to have been painted by the original artist.

Called ‘Timecraft’, the system was trained on more than 200 existing timelapse videos of people doing both digital and watercolour paintings. In testing, the team had the AI generate videos of paintings that have real timelapse videos, and doing an online survey asking participants which ones seemed most realistic.

Timecraft outperformed existing benchmarks more than 90pc of the time, and was actually confused for the real videos nearly half of the time, according to researchers.

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic