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Although universal fault-tolerant quantum computers – with millions of physical quantum bits (or qubits) – may be a decade or two away, quantum computing research continues apace. It has been hypothesized that quantum computers will one day revolutionize information processing across a host of military and civilian applications from pharmaceuticals discovery, to advanced batteries, to machine learning, to cryptography. A key missing element in the race toward fault-tolerant quantum systems, however, is meaningful metrics to quantify how useful or transformative large quantum computers will actually be once they exist.

To provide standards against which to measure quantum computing progress and drive current research toward specific goals, DARPA announced its Quantum Benchmarking program. Its aim is to re-invent key quantum computing metrics, make those metrics testable, and estimate the required quantum and classical resources needed to reach critical performance thresholds.

“It’s really about developing quantum computing yardsticks that can accurately measure what’s important to focus on in the race toward large, fault-tolerant quantum computers,” said Joe Altepeter, program manager in DARPA’s Defense Sciences Office. “Building a useful quantum computer is really hard, and it’s important to make sure we’re using the right metrics to guide our progress towards that goal. If building a useful quantum computer is like building the first rocket to the moon, we want to make sure we’re not quantifying progress toward that goal by measuring how high our planes can fly.”

A few weeks back we brought word that Reddit users [derekcz] and [Xerbot] had managed to receive the 2232.5 MHz telemetry downlink from a Falcon 9 upper stage and pull out some interesting plain-text strings. With further software fiddling, the vehicle’s video streams were decoded, resulting in some absolutely breathtaking shots of the rocket and its payload from low Earth orbit.

Unfortunately, it looks like those heady days are now over, as [derekcz] reports the downlink from the latest Falcon 9 mission was nothing but intelligible noise. Since the hardware and software haven’t changed on his side, the only logical conclusion is that SpaceX wasn’t too happy about radio amateurs listening in on their rocket and decided to employ some form of encryption.

Since this data has apparently been broadcast out in the clear for nearly a decade before anyone on the ground noticed, it’s easy to see this as an overreaction. After all, what’s the harm in a few geeks with hacked together antennas getting a peek at a stack of Starlink satellites? [derekcz] even mused that allowing hobbyists to capture these space views might earn the company some positive buzz, something Elon Musk never seems to get enough of.

A team of researchers at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has found that the human hand can be used as a powerless infrared radiation (IR) source in multiple kinds of applications. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the group notes that the human hand naturally emits IR and they demonstrate that the radiation can be captured and used.

The emits light in the invisible IR range, including the hands. This source of radiation, the researchers noted, could potentially be captured and used in applications ranging from signal generation to encryption systems. They further noted that because the hand has multiple fingers, the IR that it emits could be considered to be multiplexed.

IR is a form of —its wavelengths are longer than those of , which is why humans cannot see them. Prior research has shown that the human body emits such radiation due to body heat. Electromagnetic radiation carries with it radiant energy, and its behavior is classified as both a quantum particle and a wave. Prior research has also shown that electromagnetic radiation can be used in a variety of applications, including microwaves, radios and medical imaging devices. And , in particular, enables night vision goggles, spectroscopy devices and used to treat burn victims. In this new effort, the researchers have found that the very small amount of IR emitted by the human hand is sufficient to use in various devices.

What’s New: Intel today announced that it has signed an agreement with Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to perform in its Data Protection in Virtual Environments (DPRIVE) program. The program aims to develop an accelerator for fully homomorphic encryption (FHE). Microsoft is the key cloud ecosystem and homomorphic encryption partner leading the commercial adoption of the technology once developed by testing it in its cloud offerings, including Microsoft Azure and the Microsoft JEDI cloud, with the U.S. government. The multiyear program represents a cross-team effort across multiple Intel groups, including Intel Labs, the Design Engineering Group and the Data Platforms Group, to tackle “the final frontier” in data privacy, which is computing on fully encrypted data without access to decryption keys.

“Fully homomorphic encryption remains the holy grail in the quest to keep data secure while in use. Despite strong advances in trusted execution environments and other confidential computing technologies to protect data while at rest and in transit, data is unencrypted during computation, opening the possibility of potential attacks at this stage. This frequently inhibits our ability to fully share and extract the maximum value out of data. We are pleased to be chosen as a technology partner by DARPA and look forward to working with them as well as Microsoft to advance this next chapter in confidential computing and unlock the promise of fully homomorphic encryption for all.” – Rosario Cammarota, principal engineer, Intel Labs, and principal investigator, DARPA DPRIVE program

A single “super photon” made up of many thousands of individual light particles: About ten years ago, researchers at the University of Bonn produced such an extreme aggregate state for the first time and presented a completely new light source. The state is called optical Bose-Einstein condensate and has captivated many physicists ever since, because this exotic world of light particles is home to its very own physical phenomena.

Researchers led by Prof. Dr. Martin Weitz, who discovered the super photon, and theoretical physicist Prof. Dr. Johann Kroha have returned from their latest “expedition” into the quantum world with a very special observation. They report of a new, previously unknown phase transition in the optical Bose-Einstein condensate. This is a so-called overdamped phase. The results may in the long term be relevant for encrypted quantum communication. The study has been published in the journal Science.

A “self-portrait” by humanoid robot Sophia, who “interpreted” a depiction of her own face, has sold at auction for over $688000.

A hand-painted “self-portrait” by the world-famous humanoid robot, Sophia, has sold at auction for over $688000.

The work, which saw Sophia “interpret” a depiction of her own face, was offered as a non-fungible token, or NFT, an encrypted digital signature that has revolutionized the art market in recent months.

Titled “Sophia Instantiation,” the image was created in collaboration with Andrea Bonaceto, an artist and partner at blockchain investment firm Eterna Capital. Bonaceto began the process by producing a brightly colored portrait of Sophia, which was processed by the robot’s neural networks. Sophia then painted an interpretation of the image.

An international team of scientists has developed a system that can generate random numbers over a hundred times faster than current technologies, paving the way towards faster, cheaper, and more secure data encryption in today’s digitally connected world.

Privacy remains an issue, because artificial intelligence requires data to learn patterns and make decisions. But researchers are developing methods to use our data without actually seeing it — so-called federated learning, for example — or encrypt it in ways that currently can’t be hacked.

Many of us already live with artificial intelligence now, but researchers say interactions with the technology will become increasingly personalized.

Quantum Encryption, Privacy Preservation, And Blockchains — Dr. Vipul Goyal, NTT Ltd. Cryptography & Information Security Labs

Dr Vipul Goyal is a senior scientist at NTT Research (a division of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, a telecommunications company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan.) and an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), where he is part of the Crypto group, the theory group, a core faculty at CyLab (CMU security and privacy institute) and the faculty advisor of CMU Blockchain Group.

Previously, Dr. Goyal was a researcher in the Cryptography and Complexity group at Microsoft Research, India.

Dr. Goyal received his PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. Goyal is broadly interested in all areas of cryptography with a particular focus on the foundations of cryptography. Currently his research topics include secure multi-party computation, non-malleable cryptography, and foundations of blockchains.

Dr. Goyal is a recipient of several awards such as a JP Morgan faculty fellowship, a 2016 ACM Computer and Communications Security test of time award, a Microsoft Research graduate fellowship, and, a Google outstanding graduate student award.

Dr. Goyal was also named in the Forbes magazine 30 under 30 list of people changing science and healthcare in 2013.