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"Coding" Error Creates Anxiety Among US Veterans

Vets Told They Had Fatal Disease When They Did Not

1 min read
"Coding" Error Creates Anxiety Among US Veterans

What would you do if you opened up a letter from your doctor telling you had a fatal disease, and then later found out that you didn't? And how would you feel, both before and after the letter?

Well, a number of US veterans and their families have found out.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is apologizing to over 1,000 veterans who had received a letter incorrectly implying they had ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease. The letter sent informed the veterans (or their surviving spouses or children) of the benefits as ALS sufferers they were entitled to receive from the VA.

ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), as described by the ALS Association,

"is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. Motor neurons reach from the brain to the spinal cord and from the spinal cord to the muscles throughout the body. The progressive degeneration of the motor neurons in ALS eventually leads to their death. When the motor neurons die, the ability of the brain to initiate and control muscle movement is lost. With voluntary muscle action progressively affected, patients in the later stages of the disease may become totally paralyzed."

Unofficial sources said that the incorrect letters were the result of a disease "coding" error, although it sounds more like human error than a software programming error.

Many of the veterans receiving the letter were suspicious of the letter, and some even went for second opinions which cost them thousands of dollars in medical bills for testing confirming they did not have ALS

So, out of curiosity, how would you react to receiving such a letter, or as happened to friends of mine, receiving a letter telling them they had contracted hepatitis when they had not?


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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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