Artificial intelligence and machine learning are currently affecting our lives in many small but impactful ways. For example, AI and machine learning applications recommend entertainment we might enjoy through streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify. In the near future, it's predicted that these technologies will have an even larger impact on society through activities such as driving fully autonomous vehicles, enabling complex scientific research and facilitating medical discoveries. But the computers used for AI and machine learning demand a lot of energy. Currently, the need for computing power related to these technologies is doubling roughly every three to four months.
While there are lots of things that artificial intelligence can't do yet--science being one of them--neural networks are proving themselves increasingly adept at a huge variety of pattern recognition tasks. These tasks can range anywhere from recognizing specific faces in photos to identifying specific patterns of particle decays in physics. Right now, neural networks are typically run on regular computers. Unfortunately, those networks are a poor architectural match; neurons combine both memory and calculations into a single unit, while our computers keep those functions separate. For this reason, some companies are exploring dedicated neural network chips.
The idea of building a computer that uses light rather than electricity goes back more than half a century. "Optical computing" has long promised faster performance while consuming much less energy than conventional electronic computers. The prospect of a practical optical computer has languished, however, as scientists have struggled to make the light-based components needed to outshine existing computers. Despite these setbacks, optical computers might now get a fresh start--researchers are testing a new type of photonic computer chip, which could pave the way for artificially intelligent devices as smart as self-driving cars, but small enough to fit in one's pocket. A conventional computer relies on electronic circuits that switch one another on and off in a dance carefully choreographed to correspond to, say, the multiplication of two numbers.
Excuse me a moment--I am going to be bombastic, over excited, and possibly annoying. The race is run, and we have a winner in the future of quantum computing. IBM, Google, and everyone else can turn in their quantum computing cards and take up knitting. OK, the situation isn't that cut and dried yet, but a recent paper has described a fully programmable, chip-based optical quantum computer. There is no question that quantum computing has come a long way in 20 years.
The world is clinging onto every word of the net neutrality debate. The United States government chose to repeal net neutrality laws and this will give companies power to provide higher speeds to internet content they like and slowing down content they don't. This move hasn't been perceived as positive by most.