Mirror Magazine           Techno page - By harendra Alwis
AI all the way
With the slow, yet steady advancement of Artificial Intelligence, machines and in this instance computers, are being treated with more respect than ever before. Since 1997, when IBM's Deep Blue beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov, the intelligence of computers has been compared to that of humans on many occasions. The years since have seen chess champions and experts in many fields being challenged by computers and the results have been 'interesting' to say the least.

Are we capable of making truly intelligent computers yet? The simple answer is 'no'. We are still quite far away from getting there, but it would be foolish to forget the fact that all it would take is one simple breakthrough in the field of AI to turn the world upside-down and cause a revolution. But the question is, 'Are we ready to handle it yet?'

The social implications of these super intelligent machines could be far more significant than their effect on technology and enterprise. The social impact of super intelligent machines could potentially be quite dangerous as much as they could be beneficial. The million-dollar question is, 'will intelligent computers need to have a set of moral guidelines?' It is obvious that an intelligent entity with no grounding in morality can threaten every department of society that it comes into contact with, but as much as we can 'code knowledge and reason in binary' how do we teach morality to these machines? Food for thought, do you think?

Write in with your views to technopage_lk@yahoo.com

The power of quantum computing
In a traditional computer, information is presented in a series of Bits, and these must be manipulated via Boolean logic gates in order to produce a useful end result. Similarly, a quantum computer manipulates qubits by executing a series of quantum gates, each a 'unitary transformation' acting on a single qubit or pair of qubits.

In applying these gates in succession, a quantum computer can perform a complicated unitary transformation to a set of qubits in a given initial state. The qubits can then be measured, and this measurement will serve as the final computational result. This similarity in calculation between a classical and quantum computer means that in theory, a classical computer can accurately simulate a quantum computer.

But this is hardly the case in a practical sense. Although a classical computer can theoretically simulate a quantum computer, it is incredibly inefficient, so much so that a classical computer is effectively incapable of performing many tasks that a quantum computer could perform with ease. One example is finding the factors of, e.g. a thousand-digit number would take much longer than the age of the universe using today's classical computers, while a quantum computer might find them within seconds! But why would anyone like to find the factors of such large numbers? Actually, they are of great practical relevance, since many of the most commonly used cryptographic algorithms (RSA, PGP, etc.) are based on the virtual impossibility of finding those factors of very large numbers. Thus, the availability of a quantum computer would invalidate current security schemes previously considered to be uncrackable.

Scientists like Peter Shor and Lev Grover have devised quantum algorithms, which solve a problem in polynomial time which needs exponential time with classical computers. (Imagine the number of digits in the target number is N and the number of digits is doubled to 2N. With exponential growth, the time that is required to solve this would increase from CN to C2N, where C is a constant related to the particular algorithm. With polynomial growth on the other hand, the increase in time is of a more relaxed pace from NC to 2NC where C is a constant.)

In 1994, Shor invented his algorithm which would allow a quantum computer to find the prime factors of a large number in polynomial time and this has found potential applications in quantum cryptography (as mentioned earlier). Shor's algorithm harnesses the power of quantum superposition to rapidly factor very large numbers (on the order ~10200 digits and greater) in a matter of seconds.

The second major quan-tum algorithm is Grover's algorithm, which was invented in 1997. It finds a marked item in an unsorted database containing N entries with about square root of N queries to the database. On a classical computer, the best algorithm needs on the order of N queries. This is an example where quantum computing definitely provides a speed-up and undoubtedly brings many new and exciting applications.
Sent in by

Nuwan Karunaratne

Kasparov Vs Deep Junior
The six chess games between Garry Kasparov and computer Deep Junior came to an inconclusive end on February 8, 2003 when the sixth and final contest ended in a draw. The last game between Kasparov and Deep Junior ended in a draw, meaning a tie in the match. Out of the six games, four ended in draws. The prize money of $300,000 will be shared between the programmers and Kasparov who earned $500,000 just for daring to play against a computer again. In 1997, Kasparov was soundly thrashed by IBM's Deep Blue.

Rock and local music news
Have you been to http://www.vurbrock.net/ yet? Then maybe you've been missing the latest news in the world of rock music and the local music scene. Take a look and post your comments!

Data transfer speeds
Discover data transfer speeds used in Local and Wide Area Networks (LANs and WANs) and the Internet.
13.21 Gbps
10 Gbps
4.976 Gbps
2.488 Gbps
OC-48, STS-48
1.866 Gbps
1.244 Gbps
933.12 Mbps
622.08 Mbps
OC-12, STS-12
466.56 Mbps
155.52 Mbps
OC-3, STS-3
100 Mbps
CDDI, FDDI, Fast Ethernet, Category 5 cable
51.84 Mbps
OC-1, STS-1
44.736 Mbps
T-3, DS-3 North America
34.368 Mbps
E-3 Europe
20 Mbps
Category 4 cable
16 Mbps
Fast Token Ring LANs
10 Mbps
Thin Ethernet, category 3 cable, cable modem
8.448 Mbps
E-2 Europe
6.312 Mbps
T-2, DS-2 North America
6.144 Mbps
Standard ADSL downstream
4 Mbps
Token Ring LANs
3.152 Mbps
2.048 Mbps
E-1, DS-1 Europe
1.544 Mbps
ADSL, T-1, DS-1 North America
128 Kbps
64 Kbps
DS-0, pulse code modulation
56 Kbps
56flex, U.S. Robotics x2 modems,
33.6 Kbps
56flex, x2 modem communications rate
28.8 Kbps
V.34, Rockwell V.Fast Class modems
20 Kbps
Level 1 cable, minimum cable data speed
14.4 Kbps
V.32bis modem, V.17 fax
9600 bps modem speed circa early 1990s
2400 bps
modem speed circa 1980s
Bit = smallest unit of digital information, i.e. ones & zeros
byte = a set of bits
bps = bits per second
Kbps = kilobits per second =1000 bits per second
Mbps = Million bits per second =1,000,000 bits per second
Gbps = Gigabits per second = 1,000,000,000 (one billion) bits per second
Tbps = Terabits per second = 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) bits per second

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