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DEEPTECH: Y2Q, PROJECT DILITHIUM, & MORE

It Only Sounds Like Science Fiction

Quantum Computing Is Pushing Us Closer to Y2Q

Developments in quantum computing will render encryption useless and push us closer to a Y2Q doomsday scenario researchers warn. Cybersecurity experts already warned last year that quantum computing could spell the end of privacy. But, the stakes are higher now due to widespread computing advances and rapid hardware improvements. The problem is that technological advances by small research labs and quantum startups are outstripping both regulators and the industry at large. Over 20 years ago, the US federal government spent nearly $100bn to prevent the catastrophic effects of Y2K. Unfortunately, US authorities have failed to spend even close to that amount on post-quantum cryptography. Meanwhile, in China a research team built and successfully tested an intercontinental quantum-encrypted  communication system in 2017.

Climate Change Gold Standard, the Green New Deal, & Trump’s New EPA Head

On Monday, climate scientists released results which show with ‘five-sigma’ level of certainty  that human activity has caused global warming. In other words, there’s only a one-in-a-million chance that current global warming is not caused by human activity. The research is important because climate scientists finally have the same ‘gold standard’ level of certainty that was used to confirm the existence of the Higgs boson subatomic particle. The scientists hope that their results convince policymakers to take bold action like the ambitious Green New Deal, but so far the opposite has happened. Yesterday, the US Senate confirmed the appointment of a former coal industry lobbyist as the nation’s EPA chief. And, some US cities have begun burning plastics that residents painstakingly sort for recycling. (Until last year, much of the US’s recycled plastics were sent to China for reprocessing, but China has now banned their import.) While the Green New Deal has faced widespread criticism, scientists warn that inaction would be much worse—like in Siberia. Several towns in Russian were blanketed with black snow this winter due to unchecked industrial waste.

It’s not delivery, it’s Dilithium!

The US Department of Defense is seeking partners to help with their latest great idea—Project Dilithium, portable nuclear reactors that can be shipped on-demand via land, air, or sea. Although climate scientists have urged policymakers to rely on nuclear energy to offset the effects of global warming, defense analysts warn against portable nuclear reactors. One issue is that the reactors would be deployed to war zones which are inherently risky. Security experts warn that the fallout from ambushing a nuclear reactor would be magnitudes worse than a similar attack on a traditional fuel supply like diesel tanks. Another issue is nuclear proliferation. Project Dilithium reactors, regardless of their small size, would run on the same fuel that nuclear weapons require like highly-enriched uranium. Analysts caution that project is still in the very early stages, and physicists believe that it would take years to fully develop the technology. In the meantime, the Pentagon can finetune another great idea—technology that would allow your phone to identify you without even turning it on, looking at it, or entering a password.

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