More Chickens Coming Home to Roost

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“The selection of spectral magnitude exponents for separating two sources is dominated by phase distribution not magnitude distribution” is the title of a paper presented at the IEEE Workshop (15-18 October) on Applications of Signal Processing to Audio and Acoustics by our old friend Stephen Voran of the NTIA/ITS, at Boulder. Interestingly one of the three Keynote Speakers in New York was a full Professor, from the UK's University of Surrey but not you know who.

What is the importance of Stephen Voran's work? Aside from me continually banging on about the technical problems in the Mathematics of the Fourier Domain? It is that it shall eventually be needed to take full advantage of 5G low latency, near instantaneous language translation that is about to be thrust on us all with Google's latest globalisation of technology breakthrough Christmas treat: Pixel Buds.

This first instantiation of Google technology is strictly for mature 4G systems. Why has it taken so long to bring it to fruition? Shall it put an end to babbling? I strongly doubt it.

The real question is: can it begin to help with overcoming prejudice and racism brought on by fear of those who speak a foreign language? Perhaps, especially as it is globally adopted by the younger digitally liberated generation. There is always hope. Though I strongly expect that the older generation of English speaking Brexiteers shall stubbornly resist all attempts at its adoption for integration with the rest of the non-English speaking world. Don't you?

Keith Gremban, Director of the NTIA's, Institute for Telecommunication Sciences put Stephen Voran's work in a different context by stating “Noise is one of the more vexing communications issues first responders face during emergencies. Emergency scenes are often loud and chaotic, and responders must compete with background noise -- sirens, yelling, a roaring fire, severe weather and more -- when trying to communicate with the command center and each other.......Improving over-the-air transmissions so that essential verbal communications can be heard above background noise is part of the goal of signal processing, a decades-long specialty of NTIA's research laboratory …..Beyond the public-safety benefits, the research could lead to higher quality hands-free voice calls in cars and fewer repeat requests in voice controlled systems like Siri, Cortana and Amazon Echo.” Wisely, Keith stays out of the military battlefield and surveillance scenarios.

In essence, the NTIA are beginning to cross the Rubicon concerning the need for phase differencing operations to address spectral subtraction in signal processing. Though they still are applying window's they are abandoning filtering. Essentially most of it goes back to a Denis Gabor observation concerning phase which I previously brought to readers attention. They are just not at the addressing the Complex Number System issues – yet. Around the same time as I drew this problem to the attention of the FCC in 2007, I brought it to the attention of our old friends at OFCOM: you know the rest. And no, I am not bitter about it. For I have the patience to realise just how long the gap between identifying a problem and the technology being available to implement a solution takes. What really matters here is that if you don't understand the problem you cannot be part of the solution. Time has enabled me to see clearly just who understands the historical problems with classical signal processing and who don't before we address its consequences for quantum signal processing.

So, let me turn to the Electronics World Newsletters of 3rd and 11th of November, which featured “Will the Digital Future be a let-down?” referencing the latest propaganda book by William Webb “Our Digital Future”. And no, I haven’t read it – nor do I intend too. Interestingly, Webb who is also a visiting-Professor to Surrey, is now styling himself as a “futurologist”. Alas Webb is not in the Negroponte class. Webb could appear to some to be a Prophet of Doom and Gloom rather than a Prophet of Hope, but such an impression of complacency would be a mistake. For Webb is one of the neo-Luddites the US AI people warned us about and he is clearly working to a media agenda here. The US are now concerned that China shall attain parity in AI. Within at least five years according to Eric Schmidt. Fine, but I have seen no evidence that the Chinese have got any fundamental appreciation of the historical issues within Fourier Analysis. This I suspect is probably due to their playing the catch-up game. If this change of leadership occurs, just where shall the UK truly be in this field if we strip away all the AI hype and chest thumping pretentions? There is indeed great potential in AI for the UK companies, but the Crossing the Valley of Death issue has still to be addressed adequately.

Concurrently with this IEEE workshop, on the 17th October, Qualcomm produced a Press Release on the latest milestone merits of its 5G chip set, which I briefly discussed last year. Webb was quoted by a BBC interviewer as saying it was “no big deal”, to which Qualcomm labelled Webb a “sceptic” in reply. Qualcomm are seriously mistakenly underestimating Webb and his ilk. But do they have the ear of the people who want to acquire Qualcomm?