Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sloman, Fahlman, et al. on Metacognition

I was privileged to be asked to participate in this discussion of metacognition, as part of the 2011 Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures conference. It was a pleasure to converse with people like Scott Fahlman, Aaron Sloman, Michael Anderson, and Ashok Goel, whom I'd only known through their work (going back to Fahlman's classic 1988 study of back-propagation).

Monday, June 13, 2011

On the Origin of Stories

Christina Spiesel recommends On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction, by Brian Boyd. This looks like a good possibility for a future IS Group meeting.

Q&A re D-Wave's Quantum Computer

Alex Knapp interviewed Professor Scott Aaronson of MIT on May 24, 2011, in Forbes on-line, regarding the recent article in Nature on the announcement of a commercial quantum computer by D-Wave. Scott provides some very useful background information and an explanation of what D-Wave actually did. Thanks and a hat tip to RSC for passing this on.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Quantum encryption

AAAS Member Central
An article describing a real world example of encrypted communication using quantum keys.

Science 10 June 2011:
Vol. 332 no. 6035 p. 1243
DOI: 10.1126/science.332.6035.1243-c

Quantum Conferencing

For certain critical transactions and communications, you want to be secure in the knowledge that your message cannot be stolen or compromised by a malicious hacker. Encrypting messages with keys distributed beforehand to all interested parties is the usual method to ensure security. For ultimate or unconditional security, however, one key per message or transaction is allowed, after which the key is discarded. This “one time pad” requirement can place a hefty overhead on distributing the keys and would not be particularly practical for everyday use. In quantum key distribution (QKD), the encryption keys are made up of a series of quantum bits, single photons of light, for instance, with the orthogonal polarization states encoding a logical 1 or 0. Because the bits are quantum mechanical in nature, any attempt by an eaves-dropper to measure them would compromise that effort by a telltale sign. Sasaki et al. have now demonstrated the feasibility of quantum key distribution over an optical network in and around the metropolitan Tokyo area. Meshing together six separate QKD systems, they achieve secure video conferencing, encrypted with quantum keys, over a distance of 45 km. Stable operation and interfacing to the mobile telephone network widens the possible applications of quantum security.