Category Archives: Science

Nuclear Weapons Are Getting Less Predictable, and More Dangerous

By Patrick Tucker – On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met his counterpart, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, to discuss, among many things, the prospect of a new, comprehensive nuclear-weapons treaty with Russia and China.

At the same time, the Pentagon is developing a new generation of nuclear weapons to keep up with cutting-edge missiles and warheads coming out of Moscow. If the administration fails in its ambitious renegotiation, the world is headed toward a new era of heightened nuclear tension not seen in decades.

That’s because these new weapons are eroding the idea of nuclear predictability.

Since the dawn of the nuclear era, the concept of the nuclear triad — bombers, submarines, and intercontinental ballistic missiles — created a shared set of expectations around what the start of a nuclear war would look like.

If you were in NORAD’s Cheyenne Mountain Complex in Colorado and you saw ICBMs headed toward the United States, you knew that a nuclear first strike was underway. The Soviets had a similar set of expectations, and this shared understanding created the delicate balance of deterrence — a balance that is becoming unsettled.

Start with Russia’s plans for new, more-maneuverable ICBMs. Such weapons have loosely been dubbed “hypersonic weapons” — something of a misnomer because all intercontinental ballistic missiles travel at hypersonic speeds of five or more times the speed of sound — and they create new problems for America’s defenders.

“As I stand here today, I don’t know what that solution set looks like,” Gen. Paul Selva, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at an Air Force Association event in April. “If you’re going Mach 13 at the very northern edge of Hudson Bay, you have enough residual velocity to hit all 48 of the continential United States and all of Alaska. You can choose [to] point it left or right, and hit Maine or Alaska, or you can hit San Diego or Key West. That’s a monstrous problem.”

This makes it harder for U.S. leaders, in the crucial minutes before a potentially civilization-ending nuclear strike, to understand just what kind of weapon is inbound. more>

3 Ways AI Projects Get Derailed, and How to Stop Them

The rate of companies implementing AI is continuing to skyrocket. Don’t fall victim to wasted time and a blown budget.
By Don Roedner – In the blink of an eye, AI has gone from novelty to urgency.

Tech leaders are telling companies they need to adopt AI now or be left behind. And a recent Gartner survey shows just that: AI adoption has skyrocketed over the last four years, with a 270 percent increase in the percentage of enterprises implementing AI during that period.

However, the same survey shows that 63 percent of organizations still haven’t implemented AI or machine learning (ML) in some form.

Why are there so many organizations falling behind the curve?

We meet with companies every week that are in some stage of their first ML project. And sadly, most of the conversations go more or less the same way. The project is strategic and highly visible within the organization. The internal proof of concept went off without a hitch. Now, the team is focused on getting the model’s level of confidence to a point where it can be put into production.

It’s at this point – the transition from proof of concept to production software development – that the project typically runs into big trouble. When we first meet with data science teams, their budget is often dwindling, their delivery deadline is imminent, and their model is still underperforming.

Sound familiar? The guidelines below might help your organization get its AI model to production on time without blowing your budget. more>

What’s Great Power Competition? No One Really Knows

By Katie Bo Williams – More than a year since the new National Defense Strategy refocused the U.S. military away from counterinsurgency and back towards the country’s greatest strategic competitors, some policy and strategy experts say the Pentagon hasn’t yet figured out how to “compete” with Russia and China.

In fact, it hasn’t even settled on a definition for the “competition” in “great power competition.”

The uncertainty has left former officials scratching their heads about how, specifically, the Defense Department plans to counter China and Russia beneath the threshold of armed conflict. It also appears to be pulling the Pentagon’s policy planners beyond their traditional purview of fighting and winning wars.

“The NDS has two pieces to it: it says you have to compete with China and Russia and prepare for conflict with China and Russia,” said Mara Karlin, a former deputy assistant defense secretary for strategy and force development. “Those are different. The way you would manage and develop your force is different depending on which one you are biasing towards.” more>

Updates from Ciena

The Next Wave Of Digital Growth in India
By Gautam Billa – Demand for wireless mobile broadband in India has been one of the most prevalent technology trends in recent years, putting more pressure on operators to prepare their networks for digital growth in India. Fueled by a considerable drop in smartphone prices and broadband tariffs, the consumption of mobile data dramatically escalated last year.

In fact, wireless broadband subscribers more than doubled in two years, from 200 million in 2016 to 493 million in 2018, according to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The expansion of 4G networks beyond major cities and into rural areas in India has led to better coverage and quality of services, resulting in more subscribers and data consumption. Content in local languages has greatly improved, further contributing to the rising demand for data services across India.

The growth is happening at a tremendous rate and isn’t showing any signs of stopping. According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, the monthly data consumption per smartphone in India will reach 15GB by 2024, growing at a CAGR of 14 percent from 6.8GB in 2018. India will have more than one billion smartphones by 2024 and 80 percent of the users will have 4G LTE connections, according to the report.

Video, Internet of Things (IoT), and cloud-based services will further drive demand for broadband in both consumer and business segments. Low-latency gaming, applications, and business services are also increasing in popularity. more>

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Optimizing the Digital Transformation Process

By Stuart Carlaw – When looking at optimizing the digital transformation process in industrial and manufacturing verticals, the task is complex, fraught with risk and subject to increasing pressures in abundance. ABI Research has outlined a number of best practices that fall within a two-step process that will help in “de-risking” the transformation process.

Probably the most profound challenges for anyone looking to implement a technology-driven transformation process is clearly understanding where you are currently in terms of solution maturity and what the end vision should be. Once you know where you are, then you can realistically look to where to target for advancement.

The Industry 4.0 Maturity Model by ABI Research has been designed to provide companies with a quick snapshot of their maturity level and should be viewed as a tool to help align corporations objectively about not only where they stand in the spectrum of industrial development but also where their vision should be aligned regarding future projects.

Once an organization has a good perspective of where it sits on the maturity scale, the job of avoiding common mistakes becomes a far easier prospect. The chances of chasing unrealistic technology goals and making poor decisions based on stock price rather than operational viability become far less when leadership is honest and aligned around a clear understanding of state zero represented in today’s modus operandi.

However, any company is not out of the woods until it galvanizes around a few golden rules when it pivots towards making meaningful changes to your future fortunes. >more>

Updates from Ciena

Delivering high-bandwidth, revenue-generating services in minutes, not months
By Frank O. Miller – Many operators’ networks have grown organically to keep pace with rapidly growing traffic demands, with new technology added incrementally over time. This has resulted in multi-vendor, multi-domain networks that are difficult to manage and support. There are also major challenges when it comes to understanding where available capacity exists in the network, requiring consultation between multiple teams before new services can be provisioned and turned up. Additional effort and lead time are needed when service offerings are being newly designed and rolled out to the market.

These challenges typically result in very high costs for operators, who spend large amounts of time performing manual ordering, feasibility appraisals for new services involving multiple teams, manual configuration steps, and manual resource provisioning across several network layers and domains. As an additional challenge, new multi-vendor, physical or virtual network elements that support new service offerings may need to be introduced and integrated into Operational Support Systems (OSS) on a piecemeal basis, resulting in costly integration projects that result in a more complex operational environment.

Without a simple way to assess available capacity across the network, planning for new services is a time-consuming and difficult process. Most operators remain highly dependent on their vendor relationships in this regard, putting in frequent requests to understand if new services can be supported on existing infrastructure. Sometimes there is available capacity on the network, while other times a network buildout needs to be initiated with a vendor change request – which can be very time consuming and expensive.

All of this makes current, manual approaches to capacity planning and service provisioning unsustainable, particularly as customers’ expectations for on-demand, high-speed connectivity services continue to increase. more>

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Updates from Georgia Tech

Smart Communities Address Transportation, Housing, Flooding Challenges
By John Tibbetts – Four Georgia communities are exploring innovative technologies and collaborating with local partners and Georgia Institute of Technology research teams to help drive the state’s smart development.

Georgia Tech leads the pilot Georgia Smart Communities Challenge, which supports one-year projects to develop and implement smart design solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing the state.

The four selected localities were chosen from a pool of applicants statewide.The cities of Albany and Chamblee and the counties of Chatham and Gwinnett are focusing on pilot projects to improve local housing investments, address traffic and transportation challenges, and develop more targeted flooding forecasts of storms and sea level rise along Georgia’s coast.

A local government coordinates each project. But community and neighborhood groups, industry, and others are crucial collaborators. A Georgia Tech researcher conducts studies and provides guidance in pursuit of each project’s goals, supported by graduate and undergraduate students.

Each community has received $50,000 in grants and $25,000 from Georgia Tech in research support. Communities also raised matched funds. Georgia Power is the lead sponsor, with additional financial support from the Atlanta Regional Commission. The work began in September 2018 and will continue through September 2019.

Students are engaged through the research projects but also through two additional summer programs. The Georgia Smart Community Corps is a full-time, paid summer fellowship for Georgia Tech students to become part of the project team. It is a joint collaboration with the Strategic Energy Institute, Center for Serve-Learn-Sustain, Center for Career Discovery and Development, and the Student Government Association. more>

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Updates from ITU

AI for Good’ or scary AI?
By Neil Sahota and Michael Ashley – Some futurists fear Artificial Intelligence (AI), perhaps understandably. After all, AI appears in all kinds of menacing ways in popular culture, from the Terminator movie dynasty to homicidal HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Though these movies depict Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) gone awry, it’s important to note some leading tech scholars, such as George Gilder (author Life After Google), doubt humans will ever be able to generate the sentience we humans take for granted (AGI) in our machines.

As it turns out, the predominant fear the typical person actually holds about AI pertains to Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI).

Specialized, ANI focuses on narrow tasks, like routing you to your destination — or maybe one day driving you there.

Much of what we uncovered when cowriting our new book, Own the A.I. Revolution: Unlock Your Artificial Intelligence Strategy to Disrupt Your Competition, is that people fear narrow task-completing AIs will take their job.

“It’s no secret many people worry about this type of problem,” Irakli Beridze, who is a speaker at the upcoming AI For Good Global Summit and heads the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, told us when interviewed for the book.

“One way or another, AI-induced unemployment is a risk we cannot dismiss out of hand. We regularly see reports predicting AI will wipe out 20 to 70 percent of jobs. And we’re not just talking about truck drivers and factory workers, but also accountants, lawyers, doctors, and other highly skilled professionals.” more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Technology is splitting the job market
Some people are prospering, while others are left behind
By Raghuram Rajan – Soon, the smartphone may be replaced by a device implanted in our body that connects with our mind and provides instant access to both computing power and enormous databases. Computer-enhanced humans are no longer the realm of science fiction. The information and communications technology (ICT) revolution has fundamentally changed what we spend time on, how we interact with one another, what work we do and where we do it, and even how people commit crime.

Most importantly, it has upset the balance between the three pillars—the state, markets, and the community.

The ICT revolution has not just followed the course of previous revolutions by displacing jobs through automation; it has also made it possible to produce anywhere and sell anywhere to a greater degree than ever before. By unifying markets further, it has increased the degree of cross-border competition, first in manufacturing and now in services. Successful producers have been able to grow much larger by making where it is most efficient. This has created spectacular winners, but also many losers.

The technology-assisted market has had widely varying effects across productive sectors in a country. Some of the effects stem naturally from technological change, and some stem from the reactions of people and companies to it. Indisputably, it has raised the premium on human capabilities. As a result, some well-educated communities in big cities have prospered, while communities with moderately (typically high-school-) educated workers in semirural areas dominated by manufacturing often have not.

More generally, as with past technological revolutions, the need for people to adapt has come rapidly, before the benefits have spread widely. Indeed, the communities that are required to adapt the most, as always, are the communities that have been experiencing the greatest adversity, and have the least resources to cope. more>

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Updates from Ciena

500G transpacific. Yep, we did that!
The news from SubOptic? Let’s start with our successful single-wavelength 500G field trial over a 9,000km transpacific cable. Ciena’s Brian Lavallee explains more about this milestone as well as other highlights from this important technical conference.
By Brian Lavallée – SubOptic 2019 has recently come to a close, and as the locals say, “laissez les bon temps rouler”, or let the good times roll – and they did.

We shared the news of a successful single-wavelength 500G field trial over a 9,000km transpacific cable, which was completed just before the event. Of course, this means we can also do 500G single-wavelength transmission across much shorter transatlantic distances too. The transpacific field trial leveraged our very latest WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optical technology, which truly takes our pioneering submarine networking solution,

GeoMesh Extreme, to the extreme. In just under a decade, we’ve leaped from 10G to 500G transpacific – a truly impressive feat.

How did we achieve such performance?

By leveraging advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capabilities, 95Gbaud operation, Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), throughput-optimized FEC, and nonlinear mitigation techniques. more>

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