The international supercomputer race may soon have a new contender: Japan is reportedly eyeing the world's fastest-ever machine. Reuters this week revealed the country's plans to spend ¥19.5 billion ($173 million) on the construction of a machine capable of making 130 quadrillion calculations per second--or 130 petaflops. For comparison, the world's current top-ranking supercomputers--Sunway TaihuLight (China), Tianhe-2 (China, pictured), Titan Cray XK7 (US)--boast Linpack marks of 93 petaflops, 34 petaflops, and 24 petaflops, respectively. In an attempt to win back the industry crown and keep jobs in Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) will spend billions to construct the most nimble supercomputer in history. The machine's processing power will be available for a fee to organizations focused on driverless cars, robotics, and medical diagnostics.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a policy statement about self-driving cars. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx boiled it all down to this: "The self-driving car raises more possibilities and more questions than perhaps any other transportation innovation under present discussion. That is as it should be. Possessing the potential to uproot personal mobility as we know it, to make it safer and even more ubiquitous than conventional automobiles and perhaps even more efficient, self-driving cars have become the archetype of our future transportation." There's a lot more, and you can download the whole document here but the take-away you care about is that the government recognizes that fully self-driving cars are coming, and it's time to decide how they're going to work, not whether they're going to be allowed.