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Making Intelligence Smarter

Agencies must find a new balance between electronic eavesdropping and spies on the ground to counter global terrorism

15 min read
Making Intelligence Smarter

This is part of IEEE Spectrum's special report: Critical Challenges 2002: Technology Takes On

In 1985, when espionage was a civilized if aggressive game played by the West and the Soviet Bloc, the death of William Francis Buckley was a nasty reminder of how brutal the business could be. Buckley, chief of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's bureau in Beirut, Lebanon, was abducted by Islamic Shiite fundamentalists on 16 March 1984. He was tortured intermittently for the next 15 months before dying after a torture session at age 57. Six years later, his skull and some bones were found in a plastic sack beside a road near the Beirut airport.

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Colorful chip with wires coming out of it surrounded by large metal plates.

Engineers probe the performance of noisy bits that, when working together, may solve some problems better than quantum computers.

Lang Zeng/Beihang University

A large universal quantum computer is still an engineering dream, but machines designed to leverage quantum effects to solve specific classes of problems—such as D-wave’s computers—are alive and well. But an unlikely rival could challenge these specialized machines: computers built from purposely noisy parts.

This week at the IEEE International Electron Device Meeting (IEDM 2022), engineers unveiled several advances that bring a large-scale probabilistic computer closer to reality than ever before.

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How PostScript Kickstarted Desktop Publishing

Adobe’s PostScript became the heart of the digital printing press

8 min read
An illustration consisting of a spiral of calligraphy-style lettering that repeatedly spells the word “infinity”.

“Infinity Circle,” by Xerox PARC researcher Scott Kim, was made using JaM, predecessor to PostScript.

Adobe

The story of PostScript has many different facets. It is a story about profound changes in human literacy as well as a story of trade secrets within source code. It is a story about the importance of teams and of geometry. And it is a story of the motivations and educations of engineer-entrepreneurs.

The Computer History Museum is excited to publicly release, for the first time, the source code for the breakthrough printing technology, PostScript. (Register to download the code here.) We thank Adobe for the company’s permission and support, and Adobe cofounder John Warnock for championing this release.

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Accelerate the Future of Innovation

Download these free whitepapers to learn more about emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, and quantum computing

1 min read
Keysight
Keysight

Looking for help with technical challenges related to emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, and quantum computing?

Download these three whitepapers to help inspire and accelerate your future innovations:

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