While it sounds like the stuff of dystopian science-fiction, quantum supremacy is actually a very real milestone for a super-computer. It’s achieved when such a processor can perform a calculation in a matter of seconds that would take a normal computer several years.
Google recently claimed that its 54-qubit Sycamore processor achieved quantum supremacy when it cracked a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken the world’s leading super-computers 10,000 years. Though Google’s declaration has been disputed by some, it’s worth taking a look at what the real-life applications of such quantum capability could be.
Currently, any hacker or entity trying to use brute-force on an encrypted password could waste years trying to gain access. But quantum computers have the potential to gain brute-force entry in a matter of seconds, eviscerating encryption as we know it. On the other hand, quantum computers would also be able to create even more complex forms of encryption, ultimately making passwords even stronger.
Currently, in order to see the effects of a drug, scientists must synthesize the molecule and observe its interactions with other molecules. This takes a lot of trial and error time and resources. But quantum computers could model and run simulations of drug interactions in record time. While this would save researchers time and money, it would also save lives in the log run as the trial periods of life-saving medications could be aggressively shortened – sounds like a pandemic must-have.
Quantum computer’s ability to solve complex problems involving hefty amounts of information in a matter of seconds is sure to bolster the rise of artificial intelligence, which will need to process data at lightning-speed to reach its true potential.
Trading and risk assessment involve large-scale models and simulations, and quantum computers have the potential to give investors a huge edge. The Monte Carlo simulation, for instance, which visualizes the impact of risk and uncertainty in an investment, could be drawn-up in just a few seconds by a quantum super-computer.
Earth is a complex ecosystem made up of hundreds of smaller systems. Mapping out the interactions and synergistic relationships between them is a tall order. This complexity is what makes it hard for current climate models to be perfectly accurate. With quantum computing, we could create more accurate models that could handle more variables, which could give us a better idea of how we can realistically slow or reverse the effects of climate change.
Having a drone deliver medicine seems like something out of a sci-fi movie, but believe it or not, it’s already happening today. Given the demand for delivery drivers in densely populated areas, remote and rural communities that need medical supplies are suffering, which has caused a demand for non-human delivery methods.
In October 2019, the FAA approved a UPS request to deliver medicine via drones, a practice already being used in the UK, Ireland and Rwanda.
Companies in the mix
The top two companies behind drone deliveries of medical supplies are Zipline and Medical Drones. In addition to delivering medicine, they can deliver blood and microbiology specimens such as semen and cultures.
Now consider the importance that such instantaneous shipment could have for the healthcare field. Immediate delivery of medicine via drone could be the difference between life and death, particularly for those who live far away from hospitals. Childhood vaccines that decrease infant mortality rates could be readily available to people in rural regions. And during this pandemic, drones could be providing just-in-time delivery of test kits, reagents, medicine and, maybe one day soon, a COVID-19 vaccine.
Changing the retail landscape
But it’s not just the medical community that has jumped aboard the drone ship. While services aren’t available just yet, Amazon has long planned the launch of “Amazon Prime Air,” a drone system that could delivery all sorts of shipments in select cities. Though the first successful test delivery was done in 2016, Amazon’s plan has since been waylaid by the Federal Aviation Administration.
Amazon Prime Air has the potential to be the second time the company completely changes consumer culture. Imagine ordering a phone case and having a drone deliver it to your door within 30 minutes! That’s the type of fast and efficient delivery method Amazon imagines providing to its customers.
While automation has its downsides, like replacing human workers, it could be crucial to raising the quality of life for so many around the world.
Bill Gates, business tycoon and philanthropist, has spent much of his recent career watching and responding to global health disasters. Through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has funded international vaccination efforts and has long advocated for the need to prepare for a global pandemic.
This week, Gates released a lengthy post to his personal blog, where he enumerates the five urgent tasks to rehabilitating the world and setting us back on the path to normalcy. The five innovations he believes are most imperative are effective treatment, a reliable vaccine, widespread testing, contact tracing, and a plan to responsibly reopen the economy.
Here’s what that all means:
Before people feel comfortable returning to large gatherings outside the home, Gates says that we need a treatment that is at least 95% effective. Without such an assurance, he says, people will not feel safe enough to come into contact with strangers. One such treatment that he proposes is being tested in several laboratories. It involves the use of blood from recovered Covid-19 victims, which can provide those still fighting the disease with plasma full of virus-fighting antibodies. Still, if we cannot find a 95% effective treatment, Gates says that a vaccine will be even more essential.
Gates concedes that it typically takes five years to develop an effective vaccine, but is optimistic that it could happen faster. CDC estimates for A coronavirus vaccine are 12 to 18 months. A vaccine would give those injected with it immunity from the disease. Historically, plagues that ravaged whole swaths of the world, like smallpox and polio, were nearly eradicated as a result of wide-spread vaccination programs.
Tests will be critical in allowing countries to reopen, as they can confirm whether an individual has the virus, even if they are showing no symptoms. Gates advocates for the availability of at-home tests, which would make it easier for more people to check themselves without risking infection by waiting in a long line at a clinic.
4. Contact Tracing
Tracking down people who have been exposed to the virus, or who have come into contact with infected individuals, can help prevent a widespread resurgence of the virus. Gates says that such a task would require a large corps of workers. He looks to the model adapted by Germany, wherein individuals who test positive submit information to the state in regard to where they have been in the past 14 days, to better inform anyone who may have become compromised as a result.
5. Reopening the Economy
Gates says that leaders will have to make compromises in determining which parts of our society can open, and how soon. Opening schools, Gates says, should be top priority, as they provide a larger benefit to society, not just to the students they educate, but to the parents who can work during the day instead of managing their children. But we will probably need to wait longer for large events like major sports or concerts to resume. Other considerations we will have to make include how many people can be seated in a restaurant and how far apart factory workers will have to stand from each other.
The concept of regulated screen time is starting to look like a thing of the past.
With students across the country spending hours on the computer each day to receive distance instruction, parents concerned with how much exposure their children are getting to the internet or digital screens may feel helpless.
If you feel that way, you’re not alone, but your anxiety might not be all that necessary. We are living in strange times, but it’s not a permanent situation. Giving your kids a little more free-range online or in front of a television is not going to harm them forever, because this situation won’t last forever.
Still, if you are growing concerned that your kids have become addicted to staring at a screen and you want to have a better window into what they’re looking at for hours on-end, there are plenty of resources to assist you. Keep reading for three of the best apps to help you monitor your kids’ screen time, even if you’re sheltered in place.
This app is ideal for parents who want more control over which sites or apps their children have access to. Using AI to block questionable websites, Net Nanny can also lock kids out of specific sites that their parents don’t want them accessing. (Say you don’t want you kids to watch Netflix unless you’re in the room. Net Nanny can help you block access.) It also gives parents access to their children’s internet history and sends alerts if their kids have navigated to inappropriate content. Net Nanny has a $40/year plan for one Mac computer, a $55/year plan for up to 5 devices of any brand including mobile devices, and a $90/year plan that covers up to 20 devices.
Bark is a good choice if you have preteen or teenage kids, as it monitors texts and emails, as well as YouTube, Instagram, and over two dozen other social media outlets for questionable content your child might be searching or viewing. Bark detects signs of cyberbullying, depression, online predators, and adult content, and sends parents alerts of such activity. It also gives parents flexibility as to which sites they monitor, so they can grant their children a little privacy. Bark has a 7-day free trial and then costs $14/month per family with iOS and Android devices.
This app helps parents monitor screen time on iOS and Android devices for free! The app lets parents limit access to certain apps, filter websites, enable GPS monitoring and schedule screen time and recurring activities like bedtime. Premium features include use of the app on up to 20 devices, and ability to label certain apps as either Always Blocked, Per Schedule, or Always Allowed.
The Premium version also enables a spendable screen time allowance, the family locator feature, a geo-fence creator for alerts, text blocking and web filters. And while Premium typically costs $7/month, in light of coronavirus isolation measures, OurPact says its offering three months access to these features for free.
Everyone’s got to eat, even if you’re sheltering in place. Fortunately, modern technology has made it easier than ever to get your groceries delivered directly to your doorstep, so you don’t have to brave the outside world during a global pandemic. Just remember to tip your delivery person for their efforts.
Here are five grocery delivery services you might want to consider to fill your pantries without leaving the house.
Delivery Fee: Free with order of $35 or more
Availability: Over 2,000 cities
Membership required: Yes, an Amazon Prime subscription is required.
Amazon Delivery lets you choose from a wide range of groceries online from select national brands. It also gives you the option to order from the Amazon-owned Whole Foods. Currently the service is only available to Amazon Prime members, but if you already have a subscription, it couldn’t be more convenient.
Delivery Fee: $3.99 with order of $10 or more, free with Instacart Express subscription
Availability: 40 states
Membership required: No, though Instacart Express subscription is available for regular users at $9.99/month, or $99/year.
Instacart lets you shop at the supermarkets in your area. Local shoppers pick up groceries based on your selection, and Instacart makes it easy to choose “substitute” items in case your first choice is out of stock. Best of all, you don’t have to be a member, so you can try it out once or twice without longer commitment for a $3.99 delivery fee.
Delivery Fee: $7.95 to $9.95, free with Walmart Delivery Unlimited
Availability: 1,600 cities
Membership required: No
This app is great if you live near a Walmart, because it offers both grocery products and other items you might buy at the store. Plus, it has a convenient mobile app, so you can order groceries, etc. straight from your phone!
Delivery Fee: $5.99-$15.99
Availability: New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Washington D.C.
Membership required: No
Though it’s only available in a few northeastern states, Fresh Direct offers a huge sampling of quality groceries as well as pre-made meals. Ingredients are often organic or high-quality, and some regions even allow you to order alcohol from the site.
Delivery Fee: Free with minimum order of $35
Membership required: No
Google Shopping does not deliver perishable or fresh groceries like the above options, but it will deliver non-perishables like pasta, canned goods, and coffee. You can even use Google Shopping to stock-up bulk quantities of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and soap.