News In Context

Quantum Is Coming. Is The World Ready?

There is a lot of talk about Responsible AI  but quantum computing, which promises to allow computers to run thousands of times faster, enabling new applications that deliver things like more sophisticated molecular simulations for drug development, models of traffic patterns for optimizing transportation or richer artificial intelligence, will introduce  issues of its own. To address these, leaders from the global quantum industry will gather in Barcelona Nov. 7-9 to formulate recommendations and discuss harmonized global action, according to an announcement made this week.

While it is hard to predict when quantum computers will be perfected, progress is moving fast. Its introduction is so close that there is now a push to have the United Nations proclaim 2025 as the International Year of Quantum Science and Technologies.

The Barcelona meeting, which will take place during PUZZLE X 2023, a conference that focuses on advances in exponential technologies such as quantum and their impact, aims to provide a platform to present the voice and recommendations of the quantum industry, says Zina Cinker, a frontier material expert, strategist, and condensed matter physicist, who currently serves as the Director General of  MATTER, an international think tank and association of over 30 country chapters, orchestrating the global use of frontier materials to solve humanity’s most immediate challenges. In 2021 MATTER launched PUZZLE X, with the support of the Government of Spain, Generalitat de Catalunya, and Barcelona City Hall. (The Innovator is a media partner of PUZZLE X.)

PUZZLE X is organizing the special assembly of quantum leaders in collaboration with the International Year of Quantum Science and Technologies initiative (IYQ2025).

Quantum mechanics has led to some of the most profound technological developments of our age: the transistors at the heart of our electronics, the lasers underlying global telecommunication, and the LEDs that have created a revolution in lighting efficiency, notes the IYQ2025. Looking forward, it says quantum science and technology will be the key cross-cutting scientific field of the 21st century, having a tremendous potential impact on critical societal challenges highlighted by the UN’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including climate, energy, food safety and security, and clean water.

Quantum could also have negative impacts on society. Once access becomes available all existing public-key algorithms and associated protocols will be vulnerable to criminals, competitors, and other bad actors so companies and organizations need to put a transition roadmap in place now and determine which areas are the most vulnerable, so they know where to start. What’s more, the competitive advantages will be so large that businesses that are not ready could be crushed by competitors. The technology could also dramatically increase gender inequality in the workplace and between the global North and South.

To help in addressing these issues and more leaders gathering at the special assembly in Barcelona will discuss quantum-related topics of relevance to UN bodies such as UNICEF and the International Telecommunications Union. These include taking steps to ensure:

*A quantum-safe world : Quantum secure communication and global readiness

*Equitable advances in quantum: Country Equity | Public private partnerships | Best-practice-sharing among regions and current and future stakeholders

* The Quantum divide is narrowed: Gender equity | Educational gap | Future talent & workforce development

* Progress on the 2030 agenda: Using quantum technologies to assist in reaching UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The Barcelona assembly will conclude with a ceremonial signing of an Open Letter by key international quantum stakeholders to encourage the UN to pass the resolution proclaim 2025 as the year of quantum. To date, the letter has been signed by many leading figures in science such as Nobel laureates Bill Phillips, Sir Kostya Novoselov, and 300 other major quantum stakeholders and companies. The letter remains open for signatures until November 1. To request an invitation to the assembly to present your company’s recommendations click here.



OpenAI and Jony Ive In Talks To  Raise $1 Billion From Softbank For AI Device

OpenAI is in advanced talks with former Apple designer Sir Jony Ive and SoftBank’s Masayoshi Son to launch a venture to build the “iPhone of artificial intelligence”, fuelled by more than $1bn in funding from the Japanese conglomerate. Sam Altman, OpenAI’s chief, has tapped Ive’s company LoveFrom, which the designer founded when he left Apple in 2019, to develop the ChatGPT creator’s first consumer device, according to three people familiar with the plan. Altman and Ive have held brainstorming sessions at the designer’s San Francisco studio about what a new consumer product centred on OpenAI’s technology would look like, the people said. They hope to create a more natural and intuitive user experience for interacting with AI, in the way that the iPhone’s innovations in touchscreen computing unleashed the mass-marketpotential of the mobile internet.

ChatGPT Can Now Speak, Hear And Process Images According to Open AI

OpenAI’s ChatGPT can now “see, hear and speak,” or, at least, understand spoken words, respond with a synthetic voice and process images, the company announced September 25. The update to the chatbot — OpenAI’s biggest since the introduction of GPT-4 — allows users to opt into voice conversations on ChatGPT’s mobile app and choose from five different synthetic voices for the bot to respond with. Users will also be able to share images with ChatGPT and highlight areas of focus or analysis (think: “What kinds of clouds are these?”).The changes will be rolling out to paying users in the next two weeks, OpenAI said.

Meta Launching AI Chabots For Instagram, Facebook And WhatsApp

Meta is launching artificial intelligence-driven persona chatbots across Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp and giving developers the power to create their own versions of AI assistants, as the US tech giant seeks to drive engagement on its platforms, reports the Financial Times.  At its Connect developer conference on Wednesday, Meta unveiled an AI assistant that will be able to search for answers to users’ questions through a partnership with Microsoft’s Bing, as well as AI image generation. Users of Meta’s platforms will also be able to interact with 28 chatbots that take on characters played by celebrities, who have agreed to have their voice and likeness used in the feature. Cook Roy Choi voices a sous chef called Max who will be able to generate recipes from a list of ingredients entered into the system, and a Dungeon Master played by US rapper Snoop Dogg will talk you through a text-based adventure. Meta said the AI assistant and personas would launch in the US in beta mode from Wednesday, but that there were plans for “several more coming over the next few weeks” across a range of interests, including gaming, philosophy and fashion. The Financial Times first reported on Meta’s plans for persona-based chatbots this summer. “This isn’t just going to be about answering queries,” Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s chief executive, said during the conference. “This is about entertainment and about helping you do things to connect with the people around you, helping you accomplish the things that you want.”

Amazon Invests $4 Billion In AI Startup

Amazon plans to invest up to $4 billion in artificial intelligence start-up Anthropic, as the big tech group steps up its rivalry with Microsoft, Google and Nvidia to persuade AI companies to use its technology, reports the Financial Times.  The deal, announced on Monday, will see Amazon invest an initial $1.25bn for a minority stake in Anthropic. Their agreement allows for the investment to be increased to $4bn later. It is a bid to forge a close relationship with a prominent AI start-up akin to Microsoft’s alliance with OpenAI, the group behind ChatGPT. As part of the agreement, Anthropic will use Amazon’s cloud computing platform and its dedicated AI chips to create its models. AI start-ups have become locked in an arms race to secure the costly chips and data centre resources necessary to build the latest AI systems, called large language models.


Lego Drops Plans To Make Bricks From Recycled Plastic Bottles

Lego has abandoned plans to make its famous bricks from recycled plastic bottles, saying that the manufacturing process would be more polluting than the current production of oil-based bricks.Lego made the decision — first reported by the Financial Times Sunday — after it spent years testing recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET) as a more climate-friendly alternative to the acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) it uses in the majority of its toys.The toymaker has pledged to use only sustainable materials in its products by 2032 and, two years ago, unveiled a prototype brick made from recycled PET. The plastic was sourced from bottles that are typically used for water or soda.Since then, however, Lego has found that making bricks from the recycled material would require investing in new equipment and involve more steps, which would ultimately lead to more planet-heating pollution than the status quo, a company spokesperson told CNN Monday.Lego’s move underscores the challenge companies face in trying to adapt their products and processes in response to the climate crisis.

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About the author

Jennifer L. Schenker

Jennifer L. Schenker, an award-winning journalist, has been covering the global tech industry from Europe since 1985, working full-time, at various points in her career for the Wall Street Journal Europe, Time Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Red Herring and BusinessWeek. She is currently the editor-in-chief of The Innovator, an English-language global publication about the digital transformation of business. Jennifer was voted one of the 50 most inspiring women in technology in Europe in 2015 and 2016 and was named by Forbes Magazine in 2018 as one of the 30 women leaders disrupting tech in France. She has been a World Economic Forum Tech Pioneers judge for 20 years. She lives in Paris and has dual U.S. and French citizenship.