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The Future of Riots

Video surveillance of London's rioters points to future of facial recognition

3 min read

On 6 August, peaceful protests over the police shooting of a local man in London's Tottenham district exploded into full-blown riots. During four days of assaults, arson, and looting, some of London's thousands of closed-circuit TV cameras captured video of the violence.

In the aftermath of the unrest, police officials began poring over footage in an attempt to identify suspected rioters. They even employed a facial recognition system designed for use during the 2012 Olympic Games, in London. But they found traditional investigative techniques to be much more fruitful than software, in part because many of the rioters had obscured their faces with hoods or bandannas, and because other factors such as poor lighting made it difficult to identify people.

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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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