State of matter with second time dimension makes quantum computers more robust

When I recently spotted the title in a science journal, my first thought was: Huh? (Hessian for Whaaaaat????) I understand the individual words, but I don’t know what they mean together.

I remember an episode when my brother happened to be standing in my office and overheard me talking to a colleague about a current IT project. When the colleague had left the room, my brother asked: “What were you actually talking about? I didn’t understand a word. What kind of gibberish was that?” He is a lawyer and therefore at home in his own language.

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Breaking News: Deutsche Bahn finds light switch!

At the beginning of August, an attentive Deutsche Bahn employee activated a switch in the Bahn Tower in Berlin for the first time. It turned out to be the light switch. The Deutsche Bahn press office is now convinced that this switch can turn off all the lights in the building. Overwhelmed by the innovative power of his company, a railway board member himself proudly posted a press release to this effect on LinkedIn. Malicious tongues had claimed that the railway is Germany’s biggest energy consumer and would now lose its top position.

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Dear Mr Söder,

on 22.06.2022 you said on Deutschlandfunk radio on the topic of extending the operating lives of nuclear power plants that the situation was very serious and that one should not “retreat to ideological corners” in this situation. Oh, Mr Söder, you speak from my heart! By the way, as far as the issue itself is concerned, the head of the energy company RWE, Markus Krebber, has an interesting objection. He said that the fuel rods could not simply be bought from anywhere, because they would have to “match the reactor type exactly”. And unfortunately, most of the uranium comes from Russia, which is why the “question of safety architecture or safety checks” should not be underestimated. When questioned about this, you pointed to expert appraisals by the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment and TÜV Süd, which came to completely different conclusions.

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An algorithm has no tact

Where artificial intelligence gets it wrong, why it affects us and what we can do about it

I am not a specialist in Computer Science issues, but have been at home in the IT environment for many years as an Agile coach and organisational developer. I can recommend the book with the title above especially to “non-IT people” like me who want to take a closer look at the cryptic and not easily accessible topic of artificial intelligence and associated algorithms. In casual language, the author explains to us what algorithms are, how they work, what difficulties the unrestricted use of algorithms entails and at what point we can (and must) exert influence on their uncontrolled use. Katharina Zweig is a professor of Computer Science at the Technical University of Kaiserslautern, where she heads the Algorithm Accountability Lab and is the founder of the “Socio-informatics” degree programme, which is unique in Germany.

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Quantum physics for hippies

While regularly checking my SPAM filter last year, I came across a news mail that surprised me. I knew that research was being done in the field, but this message showed it in a completely different light:
Fraunhofer and IBM present live: Quantum Computing in Germany
Inauguration of Europe’s most powerful quantum computer in an industrial context 15th June 2021 – 14:00

While I was still in the process of clearing the SPAM filter, the realisation hit me that I hadn’t the slightest idea of how quantum computers work. As a result, I bought some books and read posts about it. But just as a basic understanding of the electron is needed to understand how the current generation of computers work with transistors (or formerly valves), a basic understanding of quanta and quantum physics is needed to understand a quantum computer.

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The Digital Na(t)ive

The promise of digitalisation is everything will be easier, faster, more efficient, … you name it. Also important: you integrate your customers. Sounds good, doesn’t it? I work in IT myself and benefit directly from this narrative, but sometimes I am not only speechless, but really infuriated at how badly it can be messed up. What got me in this state? The instrument of direct debit authorisation.

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Digital blues

The experiences of the last few weeks make me think of the popular German phrase: “Why make it simple when you can make it complicated?”

While the rest of the world is busy with going digital, there seem to be some pockets of resistance in Germany. My health insurance company – let’s call it Medisure – likes to present itself as efficient and customer-friendly. I was pleasantly surprised when they introduced an app that allowed you to photograph a multi-page bill and send it to them for processing, instead of filling out an ancient-looking form by hand with information they mostly already had. A year later, they added the feature of an email telling me a message had been received in the app. Which cryptically means the app can also show what reimbursement they just granted. Why the app can’t send me a notification, I don’t know. They will probably tell me it has something to do with data security.

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Magic Numbers…

Actually, I had reserved this particular Friday especially for an OpenShift4 Bare-Metal installation, but you know Murphy: Firstly, anything that can go wrong will go wrong and secondly, Murphy was an optimist. So I will report on my experiences with RedHat another time.

On the morning of the Friday in question, a colleague called with the usual phrase that technicians have learned to dread: “Please take a look.” The dreaded “5 minutes”. But unfortunately, it was important, because a critical application on the production system was at a standstill and nothing worked. So I went looking for the problem and tried to find the cause. Since the error occurred from one day to the next without any changes to the program, I suspected a data constellation that was problematic for the program as the reason for the crash.

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Harlekin Exclusive: Artificial Intellisense

You probably missed the short article last week that related how the UK was funding a programme to explore the feasibility of dogs recognizing Covid-19 from its scent. Labradores, Spaniels and other smart-nosed breeds are already deployed to sniff out contraband, drugs, even apples if you dare to smuggle one into the States in your lunch box. They can also spot cancer, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s, though you wonder why bother with the last what with the striking visual clues of the disease.

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