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Fast Start for World's Biggest Biometrics ID Project

In India, a few million people have been registered so far--only a billion left to go

4 min read

Identity is easy to take for granted. Most of us have multiple legal documents or ID cards that prove we are who we say we are. But for many of the world's poorest citizens, the lack of legal identity is a barrier to participating in commerce and receiving services.

In India, an estimated 500 million people have no form of reliable identification. It's a problem the Indian government has set out to fix through a five-year project with a budget of US $430 million for this year. Starting six months ago with rural populations, the government has begun to create a biometric database that will eventually contain an unprecedented hundreds of millions of records. "We are talking about 10 times more than anything else that has been done before," says Anil Jain, an IEEE Fellow and distinguished professor at Michigan State University, who is an expert in biometrics.

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Quantum Error Correction: Time to Make It Work

If technologists can’t perfect it, quantum computers will never be big

13 min read
Quantum Error Correction: Time to Make It Work
Chad Hagen
Blue

Dates chiseled into an ancient tombstone have more in common with the data in your phone or laptop than you may realize. They both involve conventional, classical information, carried by hardware that is relatively immune to errors. The situation inside a quantum computer is far different: The information itself has its own idiosyncratic properties, and compared with standard digital microelectronics, state-of-the-art quantum-computer hardware is more than a billion trillion times as likely to suffer a fault. This tremendous susceptibility to errors is the single biggest problem holding back quantum computing from realizing its great promise.

Fortunately, an approach known as quantum error correction (QEC) can remedy this problem, at least in principle. A mature body of theory built up over the past quarter century now provides a solid theoretical foundation, and experimentalists have demonstrated dozens of proof-of-principle examples of QEC. But these experiments still have not reached the level of quality and sophistication needed to reduce the overall error rate in a system.

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