Vision Capitalists

I wrote a piece on the difference between venture capitalists and–what I call–vision capitalists.

The post is a reaction to a few things. One, I think the valuations of sites like Groupon are a little bubble-like. (I should have added that Jayson Werth’s $120 million valuation was a little insane, too.)

The other insight is that a group of venture capitalists who are more visionary does exist. Peter Thiel’s recent dinner for potential funders is one such group.

The post is called “How to Fund the Future: Enter the Vision Capitalists” out at the Singularity Symposium blog.


The Economic Implications of Quantum Computing

Quantum computing isn’t even out of the logic gate–nerd humor is free here–so it’s hard to exactly measure the impact of the technology on the economy.

When you say “quantum computing uses,” the first  sector mentioned is security, specifically encryption. Bank and finance companies would pay a high premium for technology to better protect accounts and transactions. The government would pay a premium to send encrypted messages.

But that’s where the speculation typically ends.

But, that’s just the beginning. And maybe not even the best place to start. Quantum information technology has unlimited potential to improve–or actually transform–nearly every industry.

But the best place to start is to examine where quantum computing would have the most impact is to look at where so-called “supercomputers” are in demand. The initial wave of QC tech will most likely compete in this space.

Biotech and medical researchers use massive amounts of supercomputing technology and techniques–mainly to model molecular changes and to analyze reams of data. Quantum computers–probably the best way to model molecules and even quantum states–would likely find a place in this niche.

Nanotechnology is essential to quantum physics and vice versa. The industry could unleash new potential with quantum computers.

The energy industry is another place where I expect to see QC tech uses.  Companies that specialize in both reusable and non-reusable sources will look to quantum computing to find new sources of energy and improve their current energy tech. That could include everything from analyzing geological data for oil exploration, or improving the designs of wind turbines.

Finance. For the past dozen years or so, Wall Street has raided the ivory tower for physicists that have turned into Quants.

So what would this add up to?

Figuring out what the market size of these industries can help give us an estimate that supercomputing is a multi-trillion-dollar market.

And that’s a conservative, scratching-the-surface type of estimate.

Nano-diamonds Are A Quantum Computer’s Best Friend

You’re absolutely right. It was a horrible headline for this post.

It was corny and misleading.

Thank you. I try my best.

But it does appear that nano-diamonds just joined the list of contenders for QC hardware models. That list of QC bling is pretty long.

According to a release posted on EurekAlert:

Now, researchers in Germany have successfully fabricated a rudimentary quantum computing hybrid system using electronic excitations in nano-diamonds as qubits and optical nanostructures, so-called photonic crystals with tailored optical properties. This architecture may allow integration of multi-qubit systems on a single micrometer-sized chip for future quantum computers.

It’s not enough that quantum computing systems be theoretically possible. The rubber hits the road when a system can inexpensively scale up to attain the type of performance that will sustain quantum computation. That’s a different task entirely.

But, according to these researchers, nano-diamonds are promising.

“Our results suggest a strategy for scaling up quantum information to large-scale systems, which has yet to be done,” says Janik Wolters, researcher, at Humboldt Universität in Berlin. “We regard our experiment as a milestone on the long road toward on-chip integrated quantum information processing systems, bringing the dream of a quantum computer closer to reality.”

Hopefully, the researchers will be engaged in further research on nano-diamonds.

(I think when you need to bold key words in your joke setup, that it proves the joke is bound to fail.)

A Million-Dollar Quantum Boilermaker

Hey, a million-dollar quantum boilermaker…

No, it’s not a new drink created by the makers of 4-Loco, it’s another sign of the increasing interest in quantum computing.

The National Science Foundation awarded Purdue University $1.5 million to study quantum information technology. The new center will use a multi-disciplinary approach to studying quantum phenomena

“The center will bring together experts in theoretical chemistry and quantum information processing to investigate information techniques used to gain new insights into a variety of chemical processes from bond breaking to photosynthesis,” said Kais, who is a professor of chemistry and a researcher in the Birck Nanotechnology Center. “This work will advance our understanding of chemical phenomena and could lead to the realization of quantum computers, which would be capable of performing complex calculations and simulations impossible on today’s computers.”

The Birth of the Quantum Internet?

Researchers may have demonstrated a proof-of-concept for a quantum network.

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) profs say they have shown how to entangle a quantum state stored in four spatially distinct atomic memories. They described the process in Nature.

I read about it at Eureka Alert.

The researchers also say that this can serve as “quantum interface between the atomic memories—which represent something akin to a computer “hard drive” for entanglement—and four beams of light, thereby enabling the four-fold entanglement to be distributed by photons across quantum networks. The research represents an important achievement in quantum information science by extending the coherent control of entanglement from two to multiple (four) spatially separated physical systems of matter and light.”

It’s important to understand the difference between a quantum logic gate is and a quantum network. Sometimes, quantum information terms are used interchangeably.

According to Quantiki, a quantum logic gate is a device which performs a fixed unitary operation on selected qubits in a fixed period of time and a quantum network is a device consisting of quantum logic gates whose computational steps are synchronised in time

Exploring Dark Information

The following is a rambling, vaguely though-out exploration of a concept that hit me while attending a seminar on future cosmology and after reading Vlatko Vedral’s Decoding Reality and Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife.

(There’s a lot of decoding going on in the science publishing world apparently…)

So, I’m fairly confident that, based on these two books, that matter, energy, and information are intimately woven together and that it won’t surprise me at all to find that information is the more primary of the three. As an example of this, check out how physicists have been able to transform information into energy.)

There’s also the similarity between the second law of thermodynamics and Shannon’s law of information.

But that only explains about 5 percent of the universe, according to cosmologists. About 95 percent of the visible universe is unaccounted for. Or, at least, it’s not normal matter and energy. Scientists call this missing stuff Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Which are horrible names. I think of Darth Vader instantly. Or, I just naturally think of dark energy as being the opposite form of energy and dark matter as the opposite of regular matter. I don’t think this is a correct way of visualizing what is probably not the opposite of anything, but a level of reality that is at a higher dimension than can be explained in our measly three-, possibly four-dimensions.

But scientists don’t get grants for naming things, so let’s press on.

Dark energy and matter are known for their homogeneity–it’s ubiquitous throughout the universe. Scientists also suggest that if exotic forms of matter and energy are the cause of the universe’s expansion, they must exert strong negative pressure.

If dark energy and dark matter exist, wouldn’t it follow that exotic forms of information exist, as well? In other words, does dark information exist?

Big Blue Gets a Quantum Clue

IBM executives analyze new quantum computing hardware.

About, oh, let’s say, sixth months ago, I thought the biggest problem facing quantum computingwas the failure of “big money” to explore the potential of QC.

I am starting to believe that the QC big money glacier is starting to melt.

IBM announced its own five-year quantum computing project. (Note that the image used by PopSci is D-Wave’s QC technology, so IBM has some catching up to do.)

IBM is tapping experts from Yale and University of California-Santa Barbara’s quantum information programs to investigate the potential.

Does this mean we’ll have a quantum computer in five years? Not necessarily, but major firms rarely investigate technology unless it’s 1) possible and 2) lucrative. New research is unveiling the possibility of quantum technology. The business models will soon reveals its potential.

Quantum computing has long been at the fringe of serious research, but the IBM project, as well as Google’s testing of the QC waters is a sign that this attitude is changing.

It is actually be surprising how quickly the quantum computing community and industry ramps up.