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Venture Capitalist Explains How Quantum Computers Harness Parallel Universes

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Recently quantum computing company D-Wave Systems announced that it had broken the 1000 qubit barrier – an important breakthrough, according to experts who speculate on the really weird physics behind quantum computing.

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Quantum computers encode information in quantum bits, or qubits, which can be in a quantum superposition of zero and one states, and therefore they can process information in ways that have no equivalent in classical computing by exploiting subtle quantum phenomena such as quantum entanglement.

Computing With Parallel Universes

D-WaveIn fact, the exotic and really weird fringes of fundamental quantum physics play a role of growing importance in practical applications. In a short video released in January before the recent D-Wave announcement, venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson, a Managing Director of Draper Fisher Jurvetson who sits on the D-Wave Board of Directors, explains in simple terms how quantum computers can be so efficient: they harness the computing power of a huge number of parallel universes.

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First introduced in 1957 by theoretical physicist Hugh Everett, the Many-Worlds Interpretation (MWI) of quantum physics says that the weird and counter-intuitive quantum superpositions extend across parallel universes. A qubit in a quantum superposition of zero and one states exists in two parallel universes. Similarly, two qubits require four parallel universes, and so forth. Doing the math, it’s easy to see that a system of 1000 qubits spans a huge number of parallel universes.

Jurvetson notes that Google bought the first D-Wave quantum computers, and Google researchers consider quantum computing as a path to Artificial Intelligence (AI), with first practical applications to image recognition, machine learning and deep learning. Then he moves on to explain, sort of, how quantum computers work.

The only physical explanation of how quantum computing works is that it uses the computational resources of parallel universes, says Jurvetson in the video. This interpretation is often mentioned by science writers, but it’s mostly ignored by those professional scientists who are afraid to of losing reputation by showing too much imagination. Venture capitalists see nothing wrong with imagination, if they can use it to make more money. Of course, imagination is good, but quantum physics is counter-intuitive and “visual” explanations should be taken with caution.

A Moore’s Law On Top of Moore’s Law

Since the number of parallel universes whose computing power is harnessed by a quantum computer increases exponentially with the number of qubits, a quantum computer with a few thousands of qubits could have a computing power greater than all existing computers combined, and adding even more qubits could result in a machine with more computational power than the entire universe.

Quantum Computing Performance

If quantum computers keep doubling the number of qubits every few years, Moore’s Law – the observed doubling in performance of computer systems every two years – would become even faster. “It’s a Moore’s Law on top of Moore’s Law,” says Jurvetson commenting the image above, titled “Rose’s Law” after D-Wave’s founder and CTO Geordie Rose.

But also the practical difficulty of building quantum computers increases exponentially with the number of qubits, so there is the possibility that quantum computing research might run into a barrier. Jurvetson spaaks of “a 10 percent chance that it doesn’t hit some roadblock.”

Images from Steve Jurvetson, D-Wave and Wikimedia Commons.

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Giulio Prisco is a freelance writer specialized in science, technology, business and future studies.




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11 Comments

11 Comments

  1. Orchideric

    July 7, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    So, in other words, 90% chance it WILL “hit some kind of roadblock”.
    But interesting nonetheless.

    • Giulio Prisco

      July 8, 2015 at 6:35 am

      The fact that the practical difficulty of building a quantum computer increases exponentially with the number of qubits is a roadblock in itself – at some point the curve becomes practically vertical. But the interesting question is how far we can go before it becomes practically impossible to go further.

      Another problem is software – at this moment quantum computing is only suitable for certain very specific applications, and the challenge is how to extend its application scope.

      • Matthew Paul Chapdelaine

        July 21, 2015 at 12:05 am

        “how far we can go before it becomes practically impossible to go further.”

        I’ll bet they said the same thing about technology back in the 1700’s. There are always breakthroughs. History has shown that. I wouldn’t start worrying about a world where we hit a ceiling until our little human civilization goes type III galactic.

  2. Brad Arnold

    July 8, 2015 at 11:10 am

    What we need now is talented programmers to harness the power of the D-Wave. Cognitive computing directly via the D-Wave is better than optimizing AI algorithms with the D-Wave for use on conventional computer processors. Mark my words: the Singularity is coming faster than the experts think.

    • Giulio Prisco

      July 8, 2015 at 4:29 pm

      But slower that the enthusiasts think, in my opinion. Halfway between.

  3. Lish Lash

    July 8, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    “It gets pretty weird pretty quickly.” Ha ha, go go fast talking Venture Conman, best Tony Stark impressionist yet.

  4. Benjamin Philips

    July 8, 2015 at 7:39 pm

    “…but it’s mostly ignored by those professional scientists who are afraid to of losing reputation by showing too much imagination. Venture capitalists see nothing wrong with imagination…” So you’re saying we should thank VCs for all that scientific innovation, including quantum computing. What parallel universe are YOU living in?

    • Giulio Prisco

      July 9, 2015 at 6:46 am

      I am saying that VCs have also a role to play. The sad truth is that, in today’s sedate world, scientists and researchers know that their career will stagnate (or worse) if they even mention imaginative ideas. Especially young researchers with families to feed learn to shut up, or else. Yes, I wish I lived in a parallel universe where imaginative science is respected by the (parallel) establishment.

      • btcusury

        July 14, 2015 at 12:04 pm

        In “today’s sedate world”?

        “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” – Max Planck, 1948

        • Giulio Prisco

          July 15, 2015 at 1:36 pm

          Exactly. The problems is that some “bureaucrats of science” don’t move away fast enough. I don’t wish anyone to die, but perhaps retirement in a tropical paradise would be a win-win deal. 😉

  5. Optimist911

    August 18, 2015 at 11:29 pm

    “Showing too much imagination” sounds like a good euphemism for “making crazy science-fiction claims.” Is there yet a definitive answer as to whether D-Wave’s system is actually a quantum computer, even in some weak sense? As I gather, classical algorithms perform just as well even on the very specific problem D-Wave was designed to solve. 1000 qubits on a real quantum computer would start to threaten RSA, but D-Wave doesn’t do factoring. I guess unlike bits, not all qubits are equal or even mean the same thing. The D-Wave system is a bit reminiscent of those crazy analog or electrical machines that engineers are given as puzzles to figure out why they don’t work in practice.

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Business

USA Technologies: Thinking Small To Grow Fast

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Malvern Pennsylvania is the home of USA Technologies, a town of just 3,000 people. In Malvern it pays to think small.  USA Technologies (USAT: NASDGM) is trying to make it big by thinking small.

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The word small ticket comes up frequently in USAT’s self-description. Here is why they want to be a big fish in a small pond.

What They Do For A Living

USAT provides wireless networking, cashless transactions, asset monitoring, and other value-added services to the small ticket, unattended Point of Sale (“POS”) market.  This sounds super cool, but what does it mean?

USAT developed something they call ePort technology.  When it is installed into things like vending machines, commercial laundries, amusement games, or stand alone kiosks so you no longer have to carry cash.  It is another application of network technology and it is spreading rapidly.

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While thinking small, USAT also developed ePort Connect, which amounts to a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)-compliant, comprehensive service that includes simplified credit card processing and support, consumer engagement services as well as telemetry, Internet of Things (“IoT”) and machine-to-machine (“M2M”) services, including the ability to remotely monitor, control, and report on the results of distributed assets containing electronic payment solutions.

Competitive Position

Company CEO Stephen Herbert claims the company is a leading provider in the small ticket, beverage and food vending industry.  They are expanding solutions and services to other unattended market segments, such as amusement, commercial laundry, kiosk and others.

Historically, these businesses have relied on cash for payment in the form of coins or bills, whereas, USAT systems allow the acceptance of cashless payments through the use of credit or debit cards or other emerging contactless forms, such as mobile payment.

How Does USAT Make Money

Revenues are generated from the sale of equipment and from license and transaction fees.  It is this last source that helps make USAT most interesting.

During the fiscal year 2017, 73.0% of revenues came from recurring license and transaction fees related to ePort Connect service and just 27.0% from equipment sales.

CEO Herbert believes that a service based business model, will create a high-margin stream of recurring revenues as a foundation for long-term value and continued growth.

Financials: Small Is Getting Big Quickly

USAT strategy seems to be paying off handsomely.  Revenues over the past five years have been growing a better than a 25% pace going from $29 million in 2012 to $104 million in the year ended June 2017.

For the six months ending December 2017 the company surpassed last years total ringing up about $43 million in revenues, a 30% increase.

In their February 8th earnings release, the company raised guidance for fiscal 2018 revenues to $140-$145 million and for adjusted EBITDA to between $13.5 and $14.5 million.

At this time four Wall Street firms cover the company and these folks expect USAT to earn $0.06 per share this year before tripling in fiscal 2019 to $0.18.

Cantaloupe Acquisition

Back in November USAT signed an $85 million deal to acquire Cantaloupe Systems, Inc based in San Francisco.  Just like USAT, Cantaloupe is a provider of cloud and mobile solutions for vending, micro markets and office coffee service.  The two companies tout the deal as bringing together complementary portfolios for the purpose of creating the industry’s top solutions platform.

The acquisition had only minor benefits to reported USAT first half results.  On a pro-forma basis, if the acquisition had occurred on July 1, 2016, first half consolidated revenue would have increased 26% year-over-year.

Management With Beverage Industry Background

CEO Stephen Herbert has considerable history in the beverage industry and has been CEO at USAT for over 5 years. In other words, he needs no on the job training.

For the 10 years prior to joining USAT in 1996, Herbert had been with Pepsi-Cola in their beverage division vending area.

The company believes Herbert’s intimate knowledge and experience with all aspects of USAT for over 20 years and his extensive vending experience at PepsiCo before joining USAT provide the requisite qualifications, skills, perspectives, and experiences to serve.  We would tend to agree.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.3 stars on average, based on 21 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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Shotspotter: A New Weapon To Combat Violent Crime

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U.S. violent crime is near a modern day low but the events of the recent past raise disturbing questions.  How does law enforcement deal with random gun violence.  A seven-year-old company named Shotspotter Inc. (SSTI: 17) is using technology to help first responders.

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Taking It To The Streets

Shotspotter claims to be the leader in being able to immediately detect the location of a gunshot and instantly relay this information to law enforcement officials.  The idea is that by cutting the response time to violent attacks lives can be saved and bad guys quickly stopped.

Shotspotter founders have created a SaaS-based subscription model that already has signed up customers in urban high crime areas of the United States as well as Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and South Africa.

In addition the company has tailored Shotspotter for application to school and corporate campuses as well as public transportation centers.

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According to their S-1 filing last June: When our sensors detect a potential gunfire incident, our software analyzes and validates the data and precisely locates where the incident occurred. An alert containing a location on a map and critical information about the incident is transmitted directly to law enforcement or security personnel through any computer and to iPhone® or Android mobile devices.

Shotspotter is not a startup.  They have been around since well before 2010 with close to $20 million in annual revenues on their books.  So far they have not turned a profit.  Proceeds from their $31 million public offering will help with working capital and other needs.

Veteran Management Should Help

Management is lead by CEO Ralph Clark who has been with the company since 2010 and a veteran of the security industry for many years.  The overall age of management is around 50 something.  In other words, they are not kids on skateboards dreaming up the latest super awesome App.

A Complex Problem Needs New Solutions

It hardly needs mentioning that the many outbreaks of gun violence create the need for new and more effective ways of dealing with this problem. A March 2016 report published by The American Journal of Medicine stated that the gun homicide rate in the United States is more than 25 times the average of other high-income countries.  Recent random acts of mass violence merely add another layer.

According to a 2016 report by the FBI, the number of active-shooter events in the United States in 2014 and 2015 was among the highest for any two-year average period in the preceding 16 years.

Recent Financials Show Good Signs

Financial information shows the company revenues rising from $11.8 million in 2015 to $15.5 million in 2016.  For the nine months of last year revenues rose 57% to $17.2 million. Full year 2017 performance is due to come out on February 20th and something over $24 million is the target.

The benefits of the Shotspotter SaaS business model is generous gross profit margins and excellent cash flow it provides.  Gross margins are exploding at 49% for the nine month period of 2017 from just 36% a year earlier.  Even so there is considerable room for improvement.

Slow Adoption Process

A clue to the future may be the $16 million in deferred revenues on the company balance sheet as of September 30, 2017.  Presumably these relate to existing SaaS contracts that call for specific monthly payments over the course of the upcoming 12-month period.

Shotspotter is losing money as you might expect from any young technology company.  But this condition is the result of the heavy cost of sales and marketing of a service as unusual as gunshot location detection.  If revenue growth is a fair measure of the effectiveness of its marketing approach, things are on track for future profits.  In the meantime, like any other tech company, investors will most likely focus on top line performance.  

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Ripple XRP Announces Yet Another High-Stakes Partnership

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Ripple has announced another partnership with an Asian financial institution designed to boost cross-border payments, signaling continued uptake for its native XRP token.

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LianLian International Joins Ripple Network

Hong Kong-based payment provider LianLian International has agreed to adopt xCurrent, Ripple’s enterprise blockchain platform, for the purpose of sending money overseas. LianLian is an active player in China’s massive cross-border e-commerce market, which is said to have eclipsed $1 trillion in 2017.

LianLian CEO Arthur Zhu said integration with the RippleNet blockchain will offer customers instant payments across 19 currencies.

Emi Yoshikawa, director of Ripple’s joint-venture group, issued the following statement:

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“Cross-border payments related to China’s e-commerce market reached $1.07 trillion in 2017. There is a huge opportunity to make these payments quicker and more cost-efficient. With RippleNet, LianLian will now be able to provide merchants and consumers with on-demand payments, which they weren’t able to before. We look forward to connecting other RippleNet members to LianLian.”

Ripple has announced several partnerships in recent months, bringing blockchain technology to Japanese financial institutions, American Express, IDT Corporation and MercuryFX.

China’s E-Commerce Market Offers Huge Potential

Ripple’s involvement in China’s e-commerce boom could provide the company with new avenues for growth. Wall Street financial giant Goldman Sachs has pegged China’s e-commerce market at $1.7 trillion in 2020. That represents a compound annual growth rate of 23%.

The growth of cross-border flows related to e-commerce aligns with Beijing’s vision of a consumer-driven economy. The Chinese government is undertaking a gradual pivot away from traditional smokestack industries in favor of service sectors that can boost consumption. Although the shift has been partly responsible for China’s weakening growth in recent years, it has also supported middle-class formation in the world’s second-largest economy.

In 2015, China’s middle class overtook the United States as the largest in the world.

XRP Price Levels

Ripple’s native XRP token rose on Wednesday in unison with the broader cryptocurrency market, which was still recovering from a massive slide earlier in the week. The token was trading at 77 cents U.S. at the time of writing for a total market cap of $30 billion.

XRP peaked above $3 last month, but has since declined more than 80% from record levels. The coin emerged as 2017’s best performing crypto asset thanks to a stellar month of December.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple XRP and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 161 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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