|Good morning || October 31, 2019|
Leading the News
IBM Refutes Google’s Claims of Quantum Supremacy
The New York Times (10/30, Aaronson) reports Google recently announced that “it achieved the milestone of ‘quantum supremacy,” estimating that its supercomputer Sycamore’s sampling collection of 3 minutes and 20 seconds would “take 10,000 years for 100,000 conventional computers, running the fastest algorithms currently known.” With this development, IBM issued a rebuttal, estimating that “it could simulate Google’s device in a mere 2.5 days, a millionfold improvement over Google’s 10,000 years.” The company said that it could do so by utilizing “the Oak Ridge Summit, the largest supercomputer that currently exists on earth – which IBM installed last year at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, filling an area the size of two basketball courts.” In using the supercomputer’s “eye-popping 250 petabytes of hard disk space,” IBM claims it could “explicitly write down all 9 quadrillion of the amplitudes.”
IBM, Google Debate Over What Quantum Supremacy Means. ZDNet (10/30, Ray) discusses what the debate between Google and IBM over “quantum supremacy” means. Over the past two weeks, the companies have fought over the term, with Google saying “it’s about the physics of making a superior device,” whereas IBM claims that “‘architecture,’ the design of a traditional computer system, still has amazing potential to advance computing.” Last week, Google revealed “the results of its ‘Sycamore’ superconducting computer chip, which was able to measure the output of a random number generator one million times in roughly three minutes versus what Google estimated would take 10,000 years to do using a conventional electronic or a ‘classical’ computer.” IBM, conversely, stated that “Google hadn’t achieved quantum supremacy” because “in theory, a supercomputer using conventional electronics could do the task not in 10,000 years but two and a half days.” The company is arguing that “the architecture...can be done more intelligently to get around bottlenecks – in this case, a lack of sufficient DRAM in each compute node with which to work on the intermediate products of matrix math.”
How Google, IBM’s Quantum Achievements Transforms The Future Of Computing. Silicon India (10/30, Anto) reports that Google recently “revealed that it had reached the ‘quantum supremacy’ state.” However, “heavyweights IBM, Microsoft and Google are investing more than the previous years.” In a recent Nature article, “Google claimed that their quantum computer, Sycamore solved a particular difficult problem in 200 seconds in comparison to the world’s current fastest classical computer called Summit which is owned by IBM.” However, “Later, IBM responded with news stating that Summit could solve it in two and a half days.”
Also reporting are the Business Standard (IND) (10/30, Standard), Diginomica (10/30), and NewsClick (IND) (10/30).
Auburn University Awarded $3 Million Grant For Climate Change Education
The Alabama Political Reporter (10/30, Burkhalter) reports that Auburn University has been awarded a $3 million grant to help fund climate change resilience education for graduate students, making it the only school in the state to have been awarded the grant. According to the article, the university will “teach graduate students climate research and place them working directly with stakeholders to build resilience to climate change impacts.” Auburn University associate professor of geosciences Karen McNeal said stakeholders that may become part of the program include “a city manager, an emergency response manager or a farmer who wants more information related to climate, so that they’re more resilient when a drought or a hurricane hits,” and that the experience will be the kind of work students might not otherwise get. The Alabama Political Reporter reports that the grant will allow Auburn faculty to work for five years with about 85 graduate students in various fields of study.
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Former ASEE Member Wins Nobel
ASEE is happy to claim Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough as a former member, proof that educators and researchers find value in being an ASEE member.
Research and Development
Ford To Provide OTA Software Updates Across Vehicle Lines
Forbes (10/30, Abuelsamid) reports that before 2020, “all new Ford vehicles rolling off assembly lines will include built-in cellular data modems. Starting in 2020, new generations of Ford vehicles will be putting those persistent connections to much more use with the launch of a new fourth-generation SYNC infotainment system and support for over-the-air software updates to all vehicle systems.” The automaker “will be able to use the OTA system to deliver bug fixes, recalls and new features. While Ford isn’t committing to anything right now, the automaker could also provide new capabilities over the life of the vehicle that the customer could pay for, much as Tesla does with Autopilot.” John Vangelov, manager, modem features, connected vehicle platform and product at Ford, said, “We will be one of the leaders in actually launching bumper to bumper updates for nearly all vehicle modules including conventional internal combustion engine vehicles.”
Digital Trends (10/30) reports, “As with Sync 3, Sync 4 will feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as Waze and Amazon Alexa integration. However, Sync 4 will let drivers access these features wirelessly, using either Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Wireless phone charging will be available as well. Sync 4 also includes SiriusXM with 360L, the satellite radio company’s on-demand feature.” Ford “claims [the] updates will be ‘bumper to bumper,’ and will work with ‘nearly all’ vehicle computer modules, encompassing gasoline, hybrid, and electric cars. The first updates will occur six months after the first OTA-capable vehicles are launched, Ford said, without specifying what updates it has planned.” Forbes (10/30, Garsten) reports Ford Embedded Modem Features Manager John Vangelov said, “We will be the first automaker to offer seamless virtually invisible updates in any vehicle. Our updates will focus on quality, capability and convenience upgrades.”
Also reporting are the AP (10/30) and Cars (10/30, Bragman).
Ford Announces Larger Infotainment Displays For Future Cars. Wired (10/30, Davies) reports infotainment systems have become “a new front” in competition among automakers within “the past decade.” Ford is upping its game with an announcement of “12- and 15-inch touchscreens – the latter is larger than any iPad – stuck smack in the middle of the dashboard” of some of its future vehicles. Wired says “the trend toward making car owners feel like they’re at a drive-in theatre has been going on for years, best exemplified by Tesla, whose Model 3 sedan comes with a 15-inch center screen that controls many functions that used to require buttons.” As the world becomes used to “screens that are not just big, but regularly updated and easy to use,” Ford will also be able “to show multiple applications (like navigation, phone, and radio) simultaneously, and to automatically configure their arrangement based on which the driver uses most frequently.”
Ford Executive Says Automaker’s AV Business Will Focus On Customers’ Needs. Automotive News (10/29, Martinez) reports that “despite some competitors pushing back their timeline for deploying autonomous vehicle fleets, Ford Motor Co. executive Jim Farley said the automaker is committed to launching robocars in 2021 and will stand apart through people-focused services.” Farley said Tuesday at a conference sponsored by the Financial Times that he believes that the “industry is focused way too much on the on the curiosity around the machine driving itself.” Farley said, “We’ve not spent enough time asking about the customer-facing aspects. That’s what we’re equally motivated to solve, not just the technical problem.”
UM To Expand In Detroit With Innovation Center
The Detroit News (10/29, Howes) reports the University of Michigan is preparing to expand its presence in Detroit with a “planned ‘center of innovation’ on the site of the failed Wayne County Jail on Gratiot.” According to sources familiar with the matter, the $300 million center would be operated by UM and provide master’s level instruction and certificate education in tech-related fields for businesses across the region. The Detroit News reports that plans for the center would be supported by a “substantial financial pledge from real estate mogul Stephen Ross,” and the “total project, to be developed by Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock Detroit real estate arm, likely would approach $750 million and would envision a campus-like setting including a conference-center hotel, academic building, a business incubator and, potentially, a residential component.” Also reporting are the Wall Street Journal (10/30, Maher, Subscription Publication), WUOM-FM Ann Arbor (MI) Ann Arbor, MI (10/29, Cwiek), and Crain’s Detroit Business (10/29).
Commentary: One Scientist’s Quest To Save Earth From Asteroid Impacts
Writing on The Space Review (10/28), University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory regents’ professor Alfred McEwen, professor Erik Asphaug, and associate professor Vishnu Reddy wrote about University of Arizona professor Amy Mainzer and her near-Earth object (NEO) survey mission. According to the trio, Mainzer has “led the NEOCam proposal through three rounds of the NASA Discovery program, and in 2015 was one of five mission proposals awarded a Phase A study,” and in 2017 her mission was “supported for further funding to develop its infrared detectors.” The professors write that the “heart of NEOCam is Amy Mainzer’s science investigation,” and that the success of the project “will still require a scientist in a leading role who is dedicated to achieving the fundamental objectives of the mission,” and they anticipate that person will “continue to be Mainzer.”
UH Receives $1 Million Grant For Web-Based Research Tool
KHON-TV Honolulu (10/30, Mangieri) reports the University of Hawaii’s Data Science Institute and partners Texas Advanced Computing Center and University of Texas at Austin have received $1 million for the “development of a web-based programming interface called Tapis.” The grant was given by The National Science Foundation. Tapis is an interface which will “give scientists important tools to gather data and conduct computationally intensive research.” KHON-TV reports the collaboration project brings together TACC’s expertise in high-performance computing and building distributed software systems with UH’s development, design, and architecture of the Tapis system, as well as access to “important domain research related to climate, ocean, coral reefs, microbiome and population studies around health disparities that are unique to Hawaii.”
MIT Engineers Develop New Battery For Carbon Dioxide Removal
Forbes (10/31) Science Contributor Trevor Nace writes that a “pair of MIT engineers” has “created a new way to efficiently remove carbon dioxide from the air,” a system which “can be developed commercially at low cost and has a myriad of potential applications.” The new approach “uses a unique battery that can absorb carbon dioxide while it is charging up and release pure carbon dioxide when the battery is discharged.” Nace says, “The paper outlining the recent research was published in Energy & Environmental Science” and was led by two researchers from MIT’s Chemical Engineering department.
CEO Indicates Electric-Vehicle Future Will Bring Changes In GM’s Labor Force
The Detroit Free Press (10/30, LaReau) reports that during General Motors’ third-quarter earnings call, CEO Mary Barra responded to an analyst’s question about whether GM will spend more in the next five years on building internal-combustion-engine cars or electric vehicles by saying, “I believe it’ll be EVs,” raising the prospect of a smaller labor force at the automaker in the future just days after GM workers ratified a four-year labor contract. According to the story, “since early 2018, Barra has said GM envisions an all-electric, zero-emissions future and, eventually, self-driving cars,” with GM becoming more of “a technology company that makes cars,” rather than the other way around. One of the UAW’s primary concerns during the 40-day strike and contract negotiations was the issue of building vehicles in the US, “but a zero-emissions technology company is a vision that is at odds with the UAW’s desire to ensure job security for its members.”
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Advertiser Supplied Content
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FCA, PSA Announce Deal To Merge And Create World’s Fourth Largest Automaker
Reuters (10/31, Za, De Clercq) reports Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot owner PSA intend “to join forces through a 50-50 share swap to create the world’s fourth-largest automaker, they said on Thursday, triggering a new wave of consolidation in the car industry.” The companies “said they aimed to reach a binding deal to create a $50 billion company domiciled in the Netherlands, with listings in Paris, Milan and New York and with PSA’s Carlos Tavares as CEO and FCA’s John Elkann as chairman.” FCA and PSA management teams “will seek to finalise the discussions in the coming weeks to create a group with 8.7 million in annual vehicle sales and make savings of 3.7 billion euros ($4.1 billion), even without plant closures, they said.” According to Reuters, “The multi-brand group will include the Fiat, Dodge, Ram, Chrysler, Alfa Romeo, Maserati, Peugeot, DS, Opel and Vauxhall brands, allowing it to serve mass and premium passenger car markets as well as trucks and light commercial vehicles.”
The New York Times (10/31, Granville) says, “With combined annual sales of 8.7 million vehicles, the new entity would be slightly larger than General Motors. It would have more resources to deal with the industry’s challenges.” However, “it will still have considerable weaknesses as well. Both companies lack a strong presence in China, relying largely on a weakening European market for sales.”
Reuters (10/30, Piovaccari, Kar-Gupta) says that even “if a combination of Peugeot and FCA succeeds in overcoming political, financial and governance hurdles, the new enterprise would still face substantial challenges” as the auto industry is slowing globally.
Reuters (10/30, Lienert) reports a merger “would give FCA access to Peugeot’s more modern and flexible vehicle architecture, potentially enabling the combined companies to achieve lower costs through higher production volumes.” AutoForecast Solutions senior analyst for global vehicle forecasting Sam Fiorani believes the integration of the two auto groups’ production platforms and designs would take years to implement but would benefit FCA more than PSA, which “would likely get little use out of FCA’s larger truck and sport utility vehicle (SUV) platforms,” which “are primarily for the North American market, with limited appeal in Europe and other overseas markets.”
The Times (UK) (10/31, Bailey, Subscription Publication) reports FCA “has been lagging behind” in the global drive among OEMs “to jointly develop platforms...and share them across different brands and models.” The story says PSA factories in the UK are also in danger if a merger goes through.
Engineering and Public Policy
Boeing’s Muilenburg Rejects House Panel’s Calls For Resignation
Reuters (10/30, Shepardson, Rucinski) reports Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Wednesday “spurned repeated calls to step down by U.S. lawmakers and from the mother of a young woman who was a victim of one of two 737 MAX crashes that killed 346 people. When asked at separate points whether he had offered to resign or planned to submit a letter of resignation, Muilenburg answered: ‘No.’”
The New York Times (10/30, Gelles, Kitroeff) reports Muilenburg, “facing Congress for the second day in a row,” was confronted “by irate lawmakers who presented new evidence that people inside the company raised concerns during the development of the 737 Max.” The Wall Street Journal (10/30, Mann, Pasztor, Tangel, Subscription Publication) reports internal records show Boeing employees were concerned about relying on just one sensor to trigger the new MCAS flight-control system on the Max.
The Washington Post (10/30, Duncan, Laris, Aratani) reports House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Peter DeFazio opened the hearing by pressing Muilenburg “for more answers” about internal documents, which “included an email in which a Boeing engineer questioned in 2015 whether the Max was vulnerable to the failure of a single sensor – the scenario that led to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.”
Trump Welcomes Automakers’ Support In Dispute Over California Emissions Rules
Reuters (10/30) reports that the automakers’ “decision to side with the Trump administration follows legal challenges by California and 22 states and environmental groups in September.” Reuters also reports that “those challenges aim to undo the administration’s determination that federal law bars California from setting its own rigorous tailpipe emission standards and zero-emission vehicle mandates.”
Wednesday's Lead Stories
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