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Quantum computers will win the next world war

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What would happen if an AI gained control of the US military’s nuclear stash and decided to preemptively win World War 3 before any perceived enemy nations could react?

Fans of cinema from the 1980s may recognize that query as the plot to the classic science-fiction film “Wargames” starring a young Matthew Broderick. It was a great but terribly silly movie that paired nicely with popcorn and suspended disbelief. Nevertheless, the question it asked remains valid.

[Note: Spoilers ahead because the movie is more than 30 years old]

In the film, the AI is eventually stymied by Boolean logic after attempting to “win” against itself at Tic-Tac-Toe. Those who understand how AI actually works might find the entire plot of the movie preposterous, but the ending is especially chuckle-worthy. At least it used to be.

Today’s computers use binary logic so, in essence, everything’s a yes or no question to an AI running classic algorithms. Even when researchers design AI that “rates” things, they usually just break the degrees between ratings down into yes-or-no questions for the AI to answer in increments.

But tomorrow’s AI won’t be stuck in the mire of classical physics. Useful quantum computers are just around the corner – they should be here sometime between next Tuesday and the year 2121.

With quantum computers, our military systems won’t be constrained to yes-or-no questions and they certainly won’t have to run boring old binary simulations to determine the confidence factor for a given operation.

Prasanth Shyamsundar, a researcher at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, a Department of Energy research lab for the US government, recently published a fascinating paper describing two new types of algorithms that could revolutionize quantum computing and, potentially, lead to a quantum brain for military AI systems.

A press release from Fermi describes what the algorithms do by invoking the image of an AI sorting through a stack of 100 assorted vinyl records to find the sole jazz album. Under the normal AI paradigm, a deep learning system would be trained on what jazz sounds like and then it would parse each record individually until one of them meets a pass/fail threshold for jazz.

The first of the algorithms Shyamsundar proposes would, essentially, allow that same AI to sort through the entire stack of albums at the same time.

Quantum AI isn’t smarter, it’s just fast and takes advantage of “superposition.” Where classical AI works in a black box, quantum AI could exploit superposition to operate in many black boxes at once. 

Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it comes up with the right answer. When it’s a yes-or-no question, the odds are good. But when it’s a question that requires non-Boolean logic, such as rating 100 albums for their jazzyness on a scale of 1-10, even a quantum computer needs a different kind of algorithm.

And that’s what the second algorithm does, according to Shyamsundar.

Per a press release from the Fermi lab:

A second algorithm introduced in the paper, dubbed the quantum mean estimation algorithm, allows scientists to estimate the average rating of all the records. In other words, it can assess how “jazzy” the stack is as a whole.

Both algorithms do away with having to reduce scenarios into computations with only two types of output, and instead allow for a range of outputs to more accurately characterize information with a quantum speedup over classical computing methods.

To be clear, Shyamsundar’s work has nothing to do with military operations and the Fermi lab, as mentioned, belongs to the DoE (not the DoD). Their paper represents the groundwork towards basic functioning quantum algorithms.

But what is a military AI technology if not an innocuous, basic algorithm persisting?

The problem with today’s military logic systems – and the one in the movie “Wargames” – is that they’re all based on binary thinking.

You can run a million simulations on advanced military software using cutting-edge AI, but eventually the limitations of “pass/fail” thinking will reduce almost any conflict into an arms race that ends in either stalemate or mutually-assured destruction.

But, what if the confidence factor for a given military operation didn’t rely on binary simulations? The same quantum algorithms that can determine which album in a given stack is a jazz album 10 times faster than a binary system, and how jazzy a given album is, could easily determine which combination of feasible operational strategies would result in the highest overall confidence factor for a military campaign.

In other words, where Sun Tzu was said to be able to envision an entire battle unfolding in front of his eyes before it happened, and modern software such as CMANO can simulate entire operations, a quantum system running simple non-Boolean algorithm solutions should be able to surface strong predictions for the outcome of a multi-step war campaign.

Published April 7, 2021 — 18:39 UTC


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Where to find a PS5: All you need to know about buying Sony’s new gaming console

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If you’ve been trying to get your hands on the PlayStation 5 for months — but still miserably failing — you’re not alone. Even though Sony launched the new console five months ago, it’s still extremely hard for anyone to get their hands one. The pandemic and the global chip shortage have definitely contributed to this lack of inventory, but demand for the PS5 has also been sky high. In fact, it was recently named the fastest-selling console in US history

As of April 11, both versions of the PS5 — the $500 model with Blu-ray and the less expensive $400 digital-only edition with no optical drive — are out of stock at every major retailer, including Target, Best Buy, Amazon, GameStop and Walmart, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying to find one. Those retailers are restocking the PS5 console on a fairly consistent basis.

If you’re willing to shell out far more than the sticker price, you can get a PlayStation 5 or PS5 bundle at a reseller like eBay or StockX, but our advice is to wait for PS5 availability at other retailer options. PS5 inventory drops are starting to happen on a more frequent basis, so be sure to check back here often for the latest updates on when retailers might have restocks.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

You can monitor PS5 stock updates on your own; Twitter, for example, is a good source for restock rumors. But we occasionally get word directly from retailers and tipsters about upcoming PlayStation 5 console inventory restocks, and we update this post immediately. Again, be aware: It likely could be months before anything approximating normal inventory levels appears in stores, so getting your own PS5 gaming console is likely to be a challenge until summer, at the earliest. Below you’ll find a list of all the major retailers (and a few high-profile resellers) where you can monitor the video game console’s stock and availability. 

More on next-gen consoles

PS5 restock options at major retailers

You can check out Amazon’s page for the $400 Digital Edition via the button below, or, if you’d rather, get in line for the PS5 with Blu-ray for $500.

When in stock, Target offers the PS5 with Blu-ray for $500, in addition to the PS5 Digital Edition, which you can find by clicking the button below.

You can check on availability of the $400 Digital Edition at Walmart by clicking the button below, or you can try to snag the pricier PS5 with Blu-ray for $500.

When in stock, Best Buy offers the PS5 with Blu-ray for $500 along with the $400 Digital Edition (which you can find by clicking the button below). The retailer is also offering a slew of accessories on its PS5 landing page.

We don’t recommend spending more than retail to get a PS5, but if you must have a console right now, eBay is your shortcut to getting a console. That said, expect to pay hundreds over list; the average PS5 price on eBay is about $800. 

If you’ve exhausted all of the usual retail options and you’re willing to pay hundreds over list price, you might want to check out StockX, an eBay alternative that made its name in the secondary market for sneakers and designer clothing. Last time we checked, prices for the PS5 were hovering just below $650. We don’t think it’s worth it, but let your conscience (and your wallet) be your guide). 

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This article is regularly updated with the latest PS5 stock news.


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ByteDance’s Ohayoo has published more 150 games with 500 million downloads

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Ohayoo is the new kid on the block in Chinese games. The company is a division of ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, and it has published more than 150 games since 2019. Ohayoo’s games have been downloaded more than 500 million times, and eight games have hit No. 1 on the Chinese free game download list.

That’s a pretty spectacular result in games, and one that I wasn’t aware of until recently. Ohayoo isn’t known well in the West as the company hasn’t focused much on press to date, said Yufan Wang , head of global marketing and partnerships at Ohayoo, in an interview with GamesBeat. But it’s worth knowing because Ohayoo is helping casual and hypercasual game developers break into the Chinese market, which is the biggest in the world. And it has natural synergy with social media networks like TikTok.

“The mission is to enable creativity and happiness for the smaller game developers via publishing services that we provide,” Wang said.

To raise its profile and find more games, the company recently held its first Global Game Developer Competition, where more than 200 games from 22 countries were submitted. The company selected 10 winners from among 125 small and indie game developers. The finalists are competing for a Final Four awards with a grand prize of $100,000 and a publishing contract for first place.

Above: A scene from Combat Hero

Image Credit: Ohayoo

For the contest, Ohayoo convened a group of publishing experts to select the winners based on gameplay, art style, creative, and market potential. Six of the winning games were submitted by developers in Korea, with the top 10 rounded out by games from developers spanning Malaysia, Indonesia, Israel and France.

The winners included Circuroid (Malaysia, shooter), Cat Killer (France, ARPG), Theme Solitaire (Korea, solitaire puzzle + simulation), Crush the Block: Tap Tap Fly (Korea, side-scrolling + sliding tile), Hamster Village (Korea, simulation), Meow Jump: Boxcat (Korea, stacking block), Cargo Car (Israel, racing), Hunters of Tower (Korea, parkour+puzzle), Cute Balls (Indonesia, hypercasual), and Farmtory (Korea, simulation).

“We encouraged developers of all sizes and games in different stages,” Wang said. “We opened the competition early this year and opened it to developers around the world. We weren’t expecting to get that many submissions.”

Ohayoo has had successes on the top 10 lists in China for months at a time. In 2019, at one point, six out of the top 10 games on iOS in China were Ohayoo-published games. About 40 of the games have been big hits in terms of monetization, Wang said.

Above: Ohayoo’s Wobbleman

Image Credit: Ohayoo

“Given that there are so many smaller developers and indie developers around the globe, we should help them to achieve the same level of success getting to the Chinese audience,” she said. “There’s such tremendous growth in local market. And we see a lot of new innovative gameplay from outside of China. We are here to bridge the gap and provide both sides with value.”

Wang said the company tries to serve developers well by sending them feedback and data on games quickly. Asked about whether Ohayoo is concerned about the privacy changes in the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) initiated by Apple, Wang said the company is still watching that.

“We always wanted to be a platform to help lower the barrier for content creation and interactions for all people,” Wang said. “We saw a lack of supply of casual games and great demand in the regional market. We saw hardcore games were dominant, but some people might not want to spend so much time and money. So we saw this as a great option.”

The team has hundreds of employees, with many of them based in Beijing. There are teams working on internal game development, but most of the resources are being dedicated to the development of global games.

“We provide value for global developers,” Wang said. “We publish both in the Chinese market, bringing global developers into the market, and we have a small team exploring global publishing.”

While many game companies focus on paid ads to promote mobile games, Ohayoo understands how key content creators and opinion leaders can help with game distribution with short-form videos on platforms like TikTok, Wang said.

Above: Ohayoo’s Combat Hero

Image Credit: Ohayoo

“We have a pretty good team and constantly exploring this strend, and also a good marketing team that can push games in the market,” Wang said.

One successful Ohayoo game was Jade Master, where players have to guess whether a stone has a lot of jade in it. It’s easy to understand and took off as a hypercasual game.

During the pandemic, one game called Combat Hero did well in Japan for months, and it was a sign that people are willing to spend more time with games as a distraction from COVID-19 challenges, Wang said. Combat Hero has turned out to be the most successful Ohayoo game to date. Another popular title is dubbed Killing the Virus (dubbed Virus War globally), which is popular for obvious reasons.

“More people are willing to play games,” she said. “They’re picking up the habit of playing games.”

The company is also starting to look at more midcore games, which are hardcore in nature but can be played in short game sessions.

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John Naisbitt, futurist and best-selling author of ‘Megatrends,’ dies at 92

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Mr. Naisbitt (pronounced NEZ-bit), a onetime public relations executive and federal official, became an independent business analyst in the late 1960s, first in Chicago and later in Washington.

Spotting trends in newspapers and magazines, he summarized his findings in reports for businesses, research groups and libraries. He struggled for years, declaring bankruptcy in the late 1970s — and pleading guilty to bankruptcy fraud — before “Megatrends” made him an international star of futuristic studies.

In the book, Mr. Naisbitt focused on 10 major trends he believed were reshaping American commerce and society. His first observation, long before personal computers had become commonplace, was that the country was moving from an industrial and manufacturing society to an information society.

He predicted that technology companies would foster a new industrial model, with ideas rising up from workers rather than being imposed by executives at the top of the corporate ladder. As jobs flowed to the Sun Belt, Mr. Naisbitt said technology workers would become hungry for a social connection with other people — a phenomenon he called “high tech/high touch” and used as the title of a later book.

“We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology,” he wrote in “Megatrends,” “with the spiritual demands of our human nature.”

Some of Mr. Naisbitt’s ideas didn’t quite hit the mark, including the suggestion that businesses and individuals would come to value long-term planning over short-term gain. Still, the cheery optimism of “Megatrends,” in which technology would benignly break down social and financial barriers, had such widespread appeal that the book sold more than 8 million copies around the world and stayed on bestseller lists for years.

“My God, what a fantastic time to be alive!” Mr. Naisbitt wrote at the conclusion of “Megatrends.”

Critics and scholars didn’t always share his wide-eyed enthusiasm. Journalist Karl E. Meyer, reviewing the book in the New York Times, wrote that “Mr. Naisbitt has produced the literary equivalent of a good after-dinner speech.”

Some said he was merely repackaging common knowledge as a feel-good panacea for people already on the road to success. Others noted that workers without college degrees or who were not adept with computers were left out of Mr. Naisbitt’s rosy portrait of the future.

But countless readers and corporate leaders took heart in his message of better living through technology. His consulting firm prospered, President Ronald Reagan invited him to the White House, and he considered British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher a friend.

He sometimes gave two speeches a day to business groups, at a reported $15,000 per appearance. He had a knack for snappy one-liners, such as “Trends, like horses, are easier to ride in the direction they are already going” or “We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.”

Mr. Naisbitt’s research method, known as content analysis, derived from his reading of Bruce Catton’s Civil War histories, which relied heavily on reports from contemporary newspapers. Allied intelligence organizations also studied local newspapers during World War II to gauge public behavior and moods.

Mr. Naisbitt used the same technique when he opened his first consulting firm in the 1960s. By the early 1980s, when he was running the Naisbitt Group in Washington, his researchers were reading 250 newspapers and dozens of magazines a day. He paid particular attention to what he called five “bellwether states” known for social change — California, Florida, Washington, Colorado and Texas.

“Our approach has to do with the notion that change starts locally, from the bottom up,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1990. “That’s why newspapers are so important to us: No one else comes closer to chronicling what is happening.”

When scholars complained that Mr. Naisbitt’s methods were superficial and arbitrary, he countered that by the time an academic journal spotted a trend, it was already out of date.

They foresaw the growing prominence of women in the workplace, the rising economic power of Asia and a trend toward working from home. They also predicted that “the arts will permeate mass culture as never before, replacing sports as our dominant leisure activity.”

“On the threshold of the millennium, long the symbol of humanity’s golden age,” they wrote, “we possess the tools and the capacity to build utopia here and now.”

Critics noted, however, that Mr. Naisbitt’s forecasts failed to notice the coming collapse of the savings and loan industry in the 1980s, the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the spread of AIDS, the 1987 stock market crash or the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

John Harling Naisbitt was born Jan. 15, 1929, in Salt Lake City. His father was a security guard and bus driver, his mother a seamstress.

Mr. Naisbitt, whose family struggled through the Great Depression, dropped out of high school to join the Marine Corps. He used the G.I. Bill to attend the University of Utah, graduating in 1952.

He was a publicist and speechwriter for Eastman Kodak in Rochester, N.Y., before moving to Chicago, where worked for the Great Books Foundation, National Safety Council and the public relations department of Montgomery Ward.

He first came to Washington in 1963 to work at the U.S. Education Commission and later as an assistant to John W. Gardner, the secretary of the old Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Mr. Naisbitt returned to Chicago in 1966 and founded his first research firm two years later, publishing reports and newsletters for major companies, foundations and government agencies.

He moved to Washington in the mid-1970s, founding a nonprofit called the Center for Policy Process. In 1977, Mr. Naisbitt declared bankruptcy, saying his only assets were $5 and a tennis racket. A court found that he had not included some art objects in the inventory, and he was ordered to sell them. He was found guilty of bankruptcy fraud in 1978 and was sentenced to 200 hours of community service and three years’ probation.

Four years later, the success of “Megatrends” made Mr. Naisbitt a mega-millionaire. His corporate clients included General Motors, AT&T and Merrill Lynch, and he had homes in Telluride, Colo., and Cambridge, Mass.

He moved to Austria after his third marriage in 2000 and increasingly focused his attention on Asia, which he said “will become the dominant region of the world: economically, politically, and culturally.”

His most recent book, “Mastering Megatrends,” written with his wife, Doris Naisbitt, was published in 2019.

His marriages to Noel Senior and Patricia Aburdene ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife, Doris Dinklage Naisbitt, a former Austrian publishing executive, of Velden am Wörthersee; five children from his first marriage, James Naisbitt of Chicago, Claire Marcil Schwadron of Takoma Park, Md., Nana Naisbitt of Durango, Colo., John S. Naisbitt of Woodridge, Ill., and David Naisbitt of Springfield, Va.; a stepdaughter, Nora Rosenblatt of Hamburg; and 13 grandchildren.

Despite his perennial optimism, Mr. Naisbitt recognized that technology sometimes produces new social problems, from violent video games to a lack of engagement with nature and other people.

“Americans are intoxicated by technology,” he wrote in his 1999 book “High Tech/High Touch” with his daughter Nana Naisbitt and Doug Phillips, which “is squeezing out our human spirit.”

Instead of spending thousands of dollars on elaborate gaming systems for their children, Mr. Naisbitt suggested that for $1 “you can go get them a ball.”

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