Staying Ahead of The Game

Article Index

Indeed! What about IBM? First however, I shall refer the reader to another cultural film masterpiece from 2014 "Castles in the Sky". It critiques the shabby Establishment treatment of Sir Robert Watson-Watt at the hands of Henry Tizard and A P Rowe. Watson-Watt lost that particular Turf War even although Churchill sided with him technology wise. So, I sincerely hope that the two lead researchers Prof Witfried Hensinger and Dr Seb Weidl from Sussex absorb the lesson and don't have to resort to the Michael Caine's Charlie Cracker line ""I could always take it to the Americans. They are a people who recognize young talent and give it a chance. They are!"

For the September 2011 Electronics World Last Note item concerning Fujitsu and the Australian National University collaboration on supercomputer research I wrote:

"Last May [2010], D-Wave Systems of Canada sold the first commercial supercomputer to Lockheed Martin. Thus the age of grand-challenge supercomputers, so beloved of mathematicians, is entering a new phase. As well as the defence aspects and stated goals of this project, the issue that shall drive the wide scale adoption of supercomputers is the Cloud, especially as current signal processing algorithms for real-time computation of data intensive 3D imaging for medical and other purposes, from 4G smart device sensors to smart device enabled displays, is beyond the current standards of on this and the next generation of smartphones"

That D-Wave device cited operated on 128-Qubits. D-Wave announced in January, that they are up to 1000 Qubits with the intention of doubling every year. The academic argument about this not being a "proper" Quantum Computer is another red herring. The D-Wave technology of quantum annealing whereby a probabilistic  Hamiltonian Energy Model can be transformed to a classical deterministic Eigenspectrum Model is here and now. Consequently it shall be the first real quantum basis along with classical HPC technology for underpinning 5G. The point here is that these twin technologies are complementary. Gate model quantum computers shall eventually produce the goods though. The other key technology point to appreciate here with HPC is that actual speedup of a single core processor between 1999, when D-Wave was formed, and now has only grown by 52.9ish times - no matter how many millions of single cores are employed in scaling up.

Another lesson for Sussex, is that it took over 20 years of engineering finesse to get to where D-Wave are commercially today but crucially the point to grasp about reinventing a wheel is that can be done considerably quicker with the political will of a Churchill. Witness that both the Manhattan Project and landing two men on the moon and safely returning them to the earth were products of Political Will and achieved in seven years  and eight years respectively. So just how hard really is it to build a quantum computer? It is a matter of politics.

A Further Cultural Lesson

Consider that if people want a Rolls-Royce, we engineer a Rolls-Royce, if people want a Mini then we engineer a Mini: it is called choice. Nevertheless the general public (the real people) do fear a reduction in consumer protection and a power grab by multinationals over the technology behind globalisation because TTIP has not gone away - we are merely awaiting the clash of tectonic plates and a renaming of the packaging. 

Now consider next the following exchange from the 2003 American remake of "The Italian Job":

Yevhen "All these poor people putting their life saving in banks, S&L's and mutuals, when the collapse comes who do they think they can depend on, the government, I don't think so." John "Are you taping me," Yevhen "of course not, I never tape you, come look. Governments are nothing more than puppets and strings in the world where NAFTA can overrule the Supreme Court." 

Oh Dear! Not true, merely perceptions and another example of media manipulation, but alas Her Majesty did wonder "Why no one saw the crash coming?". Well actually they did. It was classic group-think syndrome wherein both siren and Casandra voices were deliberately ignored by The Establishment(s), simply because they wanted to keep their grave train running. Think here of the other classic Pink Floyd song played over the films credits:"Money". As the Americans say: go figure. Especially before they repatriate their foreign hoardings.

Furthermore as Julius Genachowski, the former chairman of the FCC, stated in an interview with the FT (30th September 2013): "The next generation of workers will be "more and more digitally demanding" and will force companies and governments to change how they operate. In sectors such as healthcare and education, for instance, "The decision makers will be 40-somethings who can't live without their iPhone or iPad and simply won't accept from their vendors that they can't have the products that they know are buildable" 

Why did Julius feel the need to address such sentiments to the UK Establishment, via the Financial Times, in 2013?

Barry McKeown 

15th March 2017

(The Ides of March!)






T&M Supplement

The Annual T&M Supplement, sponsored by Teledyne LeCroy, was published in July. Click on the image above to read this exclusive report for free.

Follow us