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A Hybrid of Quantum Computing and Machine Learning Is Spawning New Ventures

At the intersection of two challenging computational and technological problems may lie the key to better understanding and manipulating quantum randomness

4 min read
At the intersection of two challenging computational and technological problems, may lie the key better understanding and manipulating quantum randomness
Illustration: : Richard Kail/Science Photo Library

Machine learning, the field of AI that allows Alexa and Siri to parse what you say and self-driving cars to safely drive down a city street, could benefit from quantum computer-derived speedups, say researchers. And if a technology incubator program in Toronto, Canada has its way, there may even be quantum machine learning startup companies launching in a few years too.

Research in this hybrid field today concentrates on either using nascent quantum computers to speed up machine learning algorithms or, using conventional machine learning systems, to increase the power, durability, or effectiveness of quantum computer systems. An ultimate goal in the field is to do both — use smaller quantum-computer-based machine learning systems to better improve, understand, or interpret large datasets of quantum information or the results of large-scale quantum computer calculations. This last goal will of course have to wait till large-scale quantum information storage and full-fledged quantum computers come online. Google has said they want to make a 49-qubit quantum computer by year’s end, so a machine that’s the hundreds or thousands of qubits that might benefit from such secondary quantum technologies may still take years.

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AI-Guided Robots Are Ready to Sort Your Recyclables

Computer-vision systems use shapes, colors, and even labels to identify materials at superhuman speeds

11 min read
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An image of different elements of trash with different markings overlaying it.
AMP robotics
Green

It’s Tuesday night. In front of your house sits a large blue bin, full of newspaper, cardboard, bottles, cans, foil take-out trays, and empty yogurt containers. You may feel virtuous, thinking you’re doing your part to reduce waste. But after you rinse out that yogurt container and toss it into the bin, you probably don’t think much about it ever again.

The truth about recycling in many parts of the United States and much of Europe is sobering. Tomorrow morning, the contents of the recycling bin will be dumped into a truck and taken to the recycling facility to be sorted. Most of the material will head off for processing and eventual use in new products. But a lot of it will end up in a landfill.

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