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Just Try to Rob This ATM

Get Peppered Spray For Your Trouble

1 min read
Just Try to Rob This ATM

ATMs have become a very lucrative target for thieves, with some $200 million fraudulently taken per year from them in the US alone. Thieves use a variety of means to steal from ATMs; some use using binoculars, cell phone cameras or video cameras to steal PIN numbers, while others buy and then install bogus ATM machines (or just skimmers) to steal both a person's ATM card and the PIN number.

Other thieves are more direct: they pull ATMs out of the wall or use explosives to access their contents. In fact, in South Africa, the London Guardianreports,

"The number of cash machines blown up with explosives has risen from 54 in 2006 to 387 in 2007 and nearly 500 last year."

In an effort to deter ATM fraud, the bank Absa, the largest retail bank in South Africa, is piloting an ATM that will spray you with pepper spray if you tries to tamper with it in some way or it's camera detects someone trying to plant explosives, as well as automatically notify the authorities the Guardian story also says. So far, 11 ATMs have been outfitted with pepper spray there.

There are still a few kinks needed to be worked out, however.

Three technicians performing routine maintenance on the ATM got accidentally sprayed and required medical help a few weeks back. No customers got hurt, but the spray drifted throughout the shopping mall where the ATMS were situated.

Absa says that if the pilots are successful, it will be rolling out the technology across South Africa. Not surprisingly, the bank is refusing to give out many more details about its pepper-spraying ATMs, especially how one detects would-be bombers, citing security reasons.

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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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