An officer aims his rifle during a protest in Ferguson, Mo. The protests have reignited concerns about the militarization of U.S. law enforcement.
The clouds of tear gas, flurries of projectiles and images of police officers outfitted in military-grade hardware in Ferguson, Missouri, have reignited concerns about the militarization of domestic law enforcement in the United States.
But there has been another, little-discussed change in the training of American police since the 9/11 attacks: At least 300 high-ranking sheriffs and police from agencies large and small – from New York and Maine to Orange County and Oakland, California – have traveled to Israel for privately funded seminars in what is described as counterterrorism techniques.
For some, dispatching American police to train in a foreign country battered by decades of war, terror attacks and strife highlights how dramatically U.S. law enforcement has changed in the 13 years since al-Qaida airplane hijackers crashed into New York’s World Trade Center. In many places, the image of the friendly cop on the beat has been replaced by intimidating, fully armed military-style troops. And Israel has played part in that transition.
As these trips to Israel became more commonplace, the militarization of U.S. law enforcement also was driven by the creation of various homeland security initiatives and billions of dollars of surplus military-grade equipment donated to local departments through the 1033 program after 9/11.
Shakeel Syed, executive director of the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California, described the tactics he sees American police use today as “a near replica” of their Israeli counterparts.
“Whether it is in Ferguson or L.A., we see a similar response all the time in the form of a disproportionate number of combat-ready police with military gear who are ready to use tear gas at short notice,” Syed said. “Whenever you find 50 people at a demonstration, there is always a SWAT team in sight or right around the corner.”
The law enforcement seminars in some ways resemble other privately funded trips to Israel, such as the birthright trips for Jewish young adults and programs for politicians, educators and other professionals. Stops on the law enforcement tours include not just the Western Wall, but also West Bank border checkpoints, military facilities and surveillance installations.
Participants speak highly of the experience. Former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer called Israel “the Harvard of antiterrorism” after taking part in a 2005 trip sponsored by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Capt. Brad Virgoe of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department in California called the 2013 session he took part in an “amazing experience,” recalling visits to checkpoints in Eilat at the Israeli-Egyptian border and in the West Bank near Bethlehem.
Since 2002, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs have sent police chiefs, assistant chiefs and captains on fully paid trips to Israel and the Palestinian territories to observe the operations of the Israeli national police, the Israel Defense Forces, the Israeli Border Patrol and the country’s intelligence services. Tax documents from the Jewish Institute show the organization spent $36,857 on the trips in 2012.
The U.S. program began less than a year after 9/11, when the Jewish Institute brought nine American police officials to Israel to meet with Uzi Landau, Israel’s public security minister at the time. Participants represented the New York and Los Angeles police departments, the Major County Sheriffs’ Association, the New York and New Jersey Port Authority police and the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority police.
Recently, the seminars drew attention during the Ferguson protests because the former chief of the St. Louis County Police Department, who retired in January, had participated in a 2011 trip to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.
Israeli security forces’ history of training police in counterinsurgency tactics predated that trip. In Mexico’s Chiapas state, Israeli military officials have been training police and military to combat the Zapatista uprising since 1994. The most recent Israeli training mission to Chiapas took place in May 2013.
Topics covered have included preventing and responding to terrorist attacks and suicide bombings, the evolution of terrorist operations and tactics, security for transit infrastructure, intelligence sharing, and balancing crime fighting and antiterrorism efforts. The training also touches on ways to use Israel’s counterinsurgency tactics to control crowds during protests and riots.
Virgoe told CIR that he and his Israeli counterparts frequently discussed protests and crowd control methods.
“Around Bethlehem, they deal with it on a daily basis,” he said. “Rock throwing, it happens all the time, and they’ve become very proficient at dealing with large crowds on a moment’s notice.”
Virgoe also recounted the Israeli national police’s efficiency in dealing with hundreds of thousands of Sephardic Jews who poured into Jerusalem for the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in October.
The head of the Maine State Police, Col. Robert Williams, joined a trip sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League in early 2013. Speaking to the Bangor Daily News after his return, he noted that his Israeli counterparts had decades of experience in dealing with protests and he was impressed with their ability to suppress demonstrations.
San Diego Assistant Police Chief Walt Vasquez was on the same October 2013 trip as Virgoe and described a week of travel and training with the national police, Israel Defense Forces and intelligence officials. Vasquez also recalled “lots of discussions about crowd control” tactics. He was intrigued by a demonstration of the extensive surveillance camera network that covers Jerusalem.
Crowd control training provided by Israeli authorities to American law enforcement officials disturbs Human Rights Watch researcher Bill Van Esveld, who studies Israel and Palestine.
In Israel, “in a majority of cases, you’re seeing demonstrations that start with rock-throwing and devolve into tear gas, rubber bullets and sometimes live rounds being fired at people who are throwing stones,” he said.
Van Esveld added that his research has shown the risks for law enforcement are not as high in Israel, where he said officers and soldiers frequently disobey orders governing lethal force against demonstrators and rarely face discipline or other consequences.
“It is very rare that you get a soldier or policeman thrown in jail for killing or injuring someone – in practice, there’s a lot of looking the other way,” he said.
Israel’s use of less-lethal munitions in crowd control received international attention in 2009, when American activist Tristan Anderson was struck in the face with a high-velocity tear gas canister during a West Bank demonstration against Israel’s border wall. His skull was shattered, leaving him in a coma for months. Now, he uses a wheelchair.
Rashid Khalidi, the Edward Said professor of modern Arab studies at Columbia University, said the seminars reflect a militarized mindset diametrically opposed to traditional police-community relations in the United States.
“If American police and sheriffs consider they’re in occupation of neighborhoods like Ferguson and East Harlem, this training is extremely appropriate – they’re learning how to suppress a people, deny their rights and use force to hold down a subject population,” said Khalidi, a longtime critic of the Israeli occupation.
He pointed out a fundamental difference between the American and Israeli justice systems: Jewish residents fall under Israeli criminal law, but Palestinians are subject to Israel’s military justice system. Khalidi said Americans are learning paramilitary and counterinsurgency tactics from the Israeli military, border patrol and intelligence services, which enforce military law.
The most tangible evidence that the training is having an impact on American policing is that both countries are using identical equipment against demonstrators, according to a 2013 report by the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and photographs of such equipment taken at demonstrations in Ferguson and Oaklandand Anaheim, California.
Tear gas grenades, “triple chaser” gas canisters and stun grenades made by the American companies Combined Systems Inc. and Defense Technology Corp. were used in all three U.S. incidents, as well as by Israeli security forces and military units.
Footage shot by activist Jacob Crawford in Ferguson last month revealed law enforcement used a long-range acoustic device that sends out high-pitched, painful noises designed to scatter crowds. Israeli forces first used such devices in response to West Bank protests in 2005, according to the B’Tselem report.
David Friedman, the Washington, D.C., regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, organized the dozen Israel seminars hosted by his organization for law enforcement leaders. For logistical reasons, he said, participation has been limited to “the highest levels of law enforcement.” However, Friedman confirmed that the University of Wisconsin’s police department participated, andnews coverage as well as news releases from his organization show other smaller agencies and campus police began participating in the mid-2000s.
Last year, the league brought American law enforcement to meet with Palestinian police in Bethlehem for the first time.
Friedman declined to reveal how much the seminars have cost his group. The main focus is on strategies and tactics, he said, but the Israeli officials are not “giving guidance or instruction on these matters.”
Friedman emphasized that counterterrorism is the focus of the seminar, though he acknowledged that crowd control does figure into the training, with Israeli officials showing footage and presentations from protests and demonstrating the equipment they use.
The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and the American Jewish Committee did not respond to interview requests about the law enforcement training seminars they sponsor.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated who is subject to Israel’s military justice system.
This story was edited by Robert Salladay and copy edited by Nikki Frick and Christine Lee.
The Devil’s paint. Satanic branding. Defiling God’s Temple.
All true but not the only reason that I don’t like tattoos. I don’t like tattoos for the most part, simply because they are so common. When I was fifteen and still trying to figure out exactly who I was, or would like to be, I used to experiment with drawing tattoos on myself with ballpoint pens. The ink came in a few basic colors and would last until I washed it off. THANK GOD! My friends always thought I was getting some fresh ink and at that time, seeing a fifteen year old all tatted up was a real head turner. Girls would throw themselves at me. How silly. It was fun though, I could temporarily be someone else and then fade back into obscurity whenever I got ready. Those were the days.
I missed the pierced ear phase too. I don’t know why but I just didn’t feel the need to put myself out there like that. I wasn’t a party dude, really didn’t enjoy socializing at that time and so, felt no need to proclaim myself to the world. I had nothing to prove, just wanted to be left alone to enjoy my quirky little delights, like making stuff and driving my car. Why were people so dissatisfied with who they were born as?
I did like tattoos on girls though, before it got really crazy. Most girls who had ink back then were Chola’s and I’ve always had a thing for them. There is just something about them I find fascinating, so graceful, strong and at the same time, feminine. They were like beautiful Tomboys to me, and they all had some discreet blue ink tattoo hiding somewhere. The only time you got to see it was when they wanted to share and it was a real privilege. Now, girls get all of these garish tattoos full of color and such, ick. I just don’t think them very special anymore.
What is truly special now, is someone who has managed to get through all of the phases in life, without becoming a human billboard. Now that, is SPECIAL.
It isn’t that I can’t appreciate the artistry of it all, it has just become so much white noise. Just about the only tattoos that I like nowadays are prison ink. I’ve seen some really bad ones and some really fine ones. As a matter of fact, the best tattoos that I have ever seen (not the most novel) were on this guy who had done serious time. He was a Norteno and had all of these portraits of infamous old time gangsters all over his body. Each one was so well done that they almost looked like a photograph. They were all either two or three colors only and were meticulously placed on his body. The ink was not faded either, they looked as though they could have been freshly done yesterday. I really admired his body art and kept asking where he got them done, I couldn’t believe he had them all done in prison because the quality was so good. He then told me that he hung out with “The Angels” and I understood then. I used to have art competitions with them in county jail, those bikers are great artists. Really fun and interesting people to hang out with too, until they’re not. Anyway, prison ink is the only ink I respect, everything else is pretentious and silly.
Which leads me to my real reason for writing this post. I recently lost a friend (almost more than a friend) to a cancer that I am convinced was brought on by her tattoo. Her name was Marta Campos and I really did like her. She was with another dude named Larry at the time, but it didn’t seem very serious. We would flirt whenever we saw each other and it got so bad at one point that people started to tease. We would both get highly embarrassed and try to keep it discreet but the attraction was there nonetheless. God must have been watching over me because as soon as I decided to take the next step and ask for more than flirting, we were separated by circumstance. Funny how infatuation can just konk you on the head all of a sudden. I came in one day after she had her hair and nails done and delivered one of the most devastatingly sincere lines I have ever said in my life. I then knew she was mine. Thankfully, that’s when we were separated by the twists of fate (or God).
The next I heard, she had stomach cancer. I found her online and began to really get to know her. She wasn’t what I had expected, much smarter than she let on. She was strong too, very tough after getting over the initial shock. She established two blogs and a fundraising site, chronicling everything that she was going through in picture, word and video. I felt so sorry for her since she was so young (only 30), had never been married nor had children. My condition had changed just as drastically as hers had. I had lost my truck, my income was under duress and the battle with THC (Tenderloin Housing Clinic) was heating up. For us to get together now seemed, an impossibility.
I’ve been in relationships with handicapped women before, seriously ill too, so just the fact that she was gravely ill would not have been an absolute deterrent. The issue in my mind was, “I’m having trouble now just taking care of myself”. I avowed to just talk to her and keep her company for as long as she wished.
So I’m reading her latest oncology haps one day and clicking on the photos when all of a sudden a picture scrolls up of her exposed back. She was having a procedure at Kaiser where they were inserting a huge tube into her abdomen from behind, and draining fluid out by the pint. As bad as that was it did not compare to what I saw for the first time, upon her bare skin. Marta had this huge tattoo (very well done) of the Hindu god Ganesh absolutely covering every square inch of her back! I just couldn’t believe it.
You know, you think you know someone and then come to find out you don’t know them at all. Face to face, I had never seen any tattoo on her, it was only after she began posting that I learned she loved ink. Ink did not love her though, and it culminated in her early death.
You see guys, we are SPIRITS who just happen to live in a material world. What we really are transcends the physical, this body is but a container for our spirit and where does that spirit come from? Why, from God of course, with a capital “G” and it ain’t Ganesh either. The bible tells us that this body is a temple for God, the supreme spirit, and that any man who defiles that temple shall die. By inking her back with a false god such as “the lord Ganesh” Marta did just that, she defiled God’s temple and paid the price. Not only did she have a tattoo of Ganesh on her back, she had a “Dia De Los Muertos” girl skeleton on her shoulder too. She was practically slapping God in the face! The bible specifically prohibits us from putting any marks nor alterations upon our bodies of any kind, she just happened to choose a grievously offensive subject matter as well.
Poor Marta, she wasn’t a bad person, at least not from what I could see. I really don’t believe that she was bad at all, just misguided. She didn’t heed God’s word and stumbled into a mortal sin trying to follow a fad. The tattoo was beautiful for it’s artistic value, but it sealed her fate. This wasn’t a case of carcinogenic ink nor unsanitary equipment, it was a case of foolishly disobeying God.
I mean, come on, how smart do you have to be to think that permanently marking yourself with the visage of a false god is not going to hurt God’s feelings? You know, the one who created us all. He made us, made our minds, our spirits, our bodies. They along with EVERYTHING in this Universe belongs to him, everything is HIS PROPERTY and he is jealous of it. He is especially jealous of his most precious creation, US. He has a right to be too, he sacrificed his very own Son Jesus to the indignity of Death for us. And you are then going to mark your body as Satan’s property? What do you think is going to happen? God gives life, Satan delivers death. How stupid.
So, poor Marta is gone. When I saw what she had done I pointed out her error, her blasphemy. I knew that I would lose her as a friend but that was only a secondary consideration, I was trying to save her from death both in this world and perhaps the next. I told her she had defiled the temple of God, quoted chapter and verse, then encouraged her to repent and ask for forgiveness. My sincere hope was that if she did that, she would be forgiven and recover. For all I know she did ask for forgiveness but had to pay the price anyway. Just because you are forgiven doesn’t mean that consequences don’t still have to be paid. Unfortunately from the reaction that I got, I doubt she heeded my advice. In future correspondence (which wasn’t much) I detected a mocking tone. It was the only time I truly felt sad for her.
Oh, and by the way, the number of body modifications, tattoos and piercings that I have add up to a grand total of ZERO. As blank a canvas as the day I was born.
The best Cosmetic Surgeon and ENT in the Bay Area, IMHO.
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The best Cosmetic Surgeon and ENT in the Bay Area, IMHO.
As always, if we can see it, it’s already obsolete. We are only being shown this contraption so that “Full Disclosure” won’t come as such a shock. Much as I find this scientific “endeavor” fascinating, not only because of the tech but for all of it’s other implications, I’m left with a deep sense of foreboding. Just like Oppenheimer’s splitting of the Atom, this is yet another “Genie” being let out of the bottle. How responsible have we been with letting them out before? Right now, the Pacific Ocean is silently dying and soon to be absolutely dead due to Fukishima, which is dumping radioactive water into it by the tonnes on a daily basis no end in sight. Our oceans are soon to be dead people! Is anyone saying anything about it? No.
Now with this revolutionary change in computational power, those interested in further dominating mankind will have all the power they need. I have been convinced that the Anti-Christ would not arrive until the “singularity” became a reality and here we are. Do you know who has the most well developed and tested D-Wave computer right now? That’s right, the NSA! 🙂 Do you know what they are using it for? EVERYTHING EVIL. It wouldn’t be a problem if all of this powerful tech were in the hands of people who wanted only the best for humanity, but remember who gave us super tech in the first place. That would be the Fallen Angels, kiddies. We have been dealing with that tyranny ever since. They are also known as “The Break Away Society”. Thanks to the Angles and the evil humans that consorted with them, we got Human/Angel hybrids called “Nephalim”, the knowledge of war, skills of deception and seduction. That original technological imbalance has resulted in the destruction of humanity and our world that we see today. The ultimate goal is the extinction of the human genetically, transformation into something else. That something is evil. This computer is but an ancient predecessor of the real one currently altering our genome today. What few will tell you (because you probably can’t handle it) is that conventional tech has been combined with spiritual tech or, the super natural. That was the real gift that the Fallen Angles gave us.
And lest you understandably think me to be a Luddite, I was usually the “go to” guy in most of my computer classes. I like tech, computers etc. but know that man will only end up destroying himself with it. I know that it’s already over folks, but it is hard to wrap my head around that dour fact. We are done, The End Times are here, all it is now is a race to the bottom. The Days Of Noah are upon us again. Super tech, genetic perversion, trans-humanism, dimensional incursion, New Age Spirituality and finally, The Devil with his Angles cast down to Earth for one final Hellish period. How will we ever escape? We won’t, we cannot. It’s a “Post-Tribulation Rapture” people and despite what the “Mega-Church” apostate preachers want you to believe, we are going through it all. If still alive, we will see everything fulfilled while still here on Terra not so firma any longer.
“D-Wave’s quantum computers use quantum annealing (a type of adiabatic quantum computation) to solve optimization problems — and really, only optimization problems. A true quantum computer, however, should use quantum entanglement.” – Sebastian Anthony
TRANSHUMAN: Quantum Computing to Grant Immortality by 2035
Following Google’s purchase of leading Artificial Intelligence firm, DeepMind, the Internet collectively wondered what this has to do with all those robotics companies Google has also been snapping up. So are we far from having superintelligent operating system girlfriends (ie the movie Her)? If some of Google’s recent computing experiments are any indication, the answer is no. But on the plus side, search could get a lot cooler.
A quantum (computing) gun revealed by quantum smoke
D-Wave’s quantum computer shows direct evidence of quantum goodness.
I have to admit it: D-Wave is starting to produce some impressive results. For the uninitiated, D-Wave came to ourattention by loudly and repeatedly claiming that it had built a quantum computer. Many of us were skeptical. Over time, though, D-Wave has answered its critics in the best way possible: by providing evidence. Now, researchers who actually got inside the black box are reporting some key results that come very close to removing any lingering doubts.
The quantum difference
When we perform computations in an ordinary computer, we have to manipulate each bit individually. Sure, the computer might make this faster through some sort of parallelization, but there’s still a set of transistors flipping individual bits for each operation. A quantum computer is different. First, the information is stored in a quantum state (called a qubit), which means that it holds multiple values simultaneously (called superposition states). The value of a qubit is only determined when the result of a computation is read out. An eight-qubit quantum register can therefore hold values from 0-255 simultaneously, but the probability of obtaining a particular value is modified by the computational operations that are performed prior to reading the register out.
That is not the real power of quantum computation, however. The second bit of magic that a quantum system has is called coherence. When a quantum state is in a superposition state, the probability of obtaining a one or a zero changes with time naturally, like a pendulum swinging back and forth. At a particular time, the chance of measuring a one is unity, while some time later, the chance of measuring a zero is unity. In between, the probability of obtaining a one smoothly varies from unity to zero. When two qubits are coherent, this changing probability happens in concert for the two qubits.
This means that even when you perform an operation on one qubit, it jumps to a new value, but the relationship between the two qubits remains predictable in time. Yet the results from measuring their value is independent. That is, if we measure the two qubits, the individual results are not determined by each other. Only by making many measurements can we see that the two have a mutual relationship in how they change in time.
The final superpower of quantum computation is called entanglement. When two qubits are entangled, their values become correlated. Two entangled qubits are not separate anymore. They are a single entity. As the superposition state of one changes, the other must change in a complementary way. It has no choice. This also means that their measurement results in interconnected values—measuring one tells us the value of the other. It should be noted that there is no communication involved in this process, so “interconnected” should not be taken to mean some sort of driving force or information transfer between the two qubits.
By these three powers combined, a quantum computer is able to perform a sort of parallelism that is unlike anything a classical computer can manage. In a sense, a quantum computer explores all possible solutions—including incorrect solutions—at once. When it obtains the outcome, it is probabilistic: the correct solution is the most probable, but all other answers have some nonzero probability as well. To ensure that it picks the right solution, a quantum computer must be run several times to ensure that the most probable outcome dominates the other answers.
The critical point is that without all of these properties—superposition, coherence, and entanglement—there is no proof that a quantum computer offers any speedup.
Fitting D-Wave in d quantum box
And that was the challenge with D-Wave’s computer. It’s a rather complex beast, consisting of many qubits coupled together in a complicated circuit. Not only was it not easy to determine whether qubits were indeed qubits, but it took some time to figure out a way to define a measure for entanglement in a multiple-qubit system. To get around this, researchers have resorted to scaling arguments. Let the computer solve some problems under different conditions and observe how fast it comes to a solution. Those results were then compared to computer models of quantum and classical systems. The upshot was that the scaling looked more quantum than classical—good news for D-Wave. But these results require that we trust that the computational model includes all relevant physics.
A more direct proof has now been obtained. In the latest paper, the researchers used one of the qubits as a probe to measure the part of the quantum state of the surrounding qubits. They did this for a pair of qubits and for a ring of eight. They showed that the qubits exhibited behavior that can only be obtained if the qubits are entangled and coherent—a clear sign of quantum behavior.
In more detail, the probe qubit is able to measure the occupation of the energetic states of the test qubits. In classical behavior, this occupation will be governed solely by the temperature, and when the gap between the first excited state and the ground state closes (that is, no energy is required to go from one to the other), both levels should be occupied. If the qubits are entangled, this gap never closes—the two approach, come to some minimum gap, and then open up again. This is because the entangled qubits have to maintain complementary values, so it’s impossible for them to assume values that close the gap between the excited state and the ground state. In physics-speak, this is called an avoided crossing.
The researchers also used a couple of different measures of entanglement to quantify just how entangled the qubits were. In the case of two qubits, they obtain about half of a maximally entangled state, while for the eight-qubit system it was less than half. There are qubit systems that can be maximally entangled, but given the scale of the D-Wave system, this is an impressive result.
Don’t go racing for your credit card just yet, though. Although the qubits are entangled, they are not as entangled as you might like. I’m not sure what this means for proofs of computational speedup other than that the proofs take maximally entangled and coherent qubits as a given. Nevertheless, this is huge because it’s now just a question of time—time to make the system cleaner, time to make the system bigger.
On that note, I should point out that making the system bigger is probably one of the biggest problems that D-Wave now faces. In order to solve realistic problems, it has to create much bigger systems. Even though it has 512-qubit systems, the way the qubits are used means that they have effectively less than 100 qubits. The second problem is that D-Wave’s qubit layout limits the computational problems they can solve—every problem must be rewritten to suit the qubit layout. Effectively, this reduces the number of qubits even further because some problems map one-to-one (one D-Wave qubit represents one qubit of the original problem), but others map much less efficiently (say 10 qubits to simulate one qubit), while still others can’t be mapped at all. Effectively, this means that each system has to be uniquely configured to solve a specific problem efficiently, and not all problems can be solved.
The problem of scaling is something that I expect to see solved reasonably quickly (within a few years, D-Wave has gone from 32 qubits to 512 qubits). A D-Wave system may yet be solving logistical problems on a commercial basis.
A computer scientist at Amherst College has performed the first ever head-to-head speed test between a conventional and quantum computer — and, you’ll be glad to hear that the quantum computer won. But only just — and against a conventional computer that’s 6,000 times cheaper.
The quantum computer being tested was the D-Wave Two, which packs 439 quantum bits (qubits). Ever since D-Wave launched the first commercial quantum computer in 2011 — the128-qubit, $10 million D-Wave One — the company has faced a lot of criticism from quantum physicists and computer scientists, who claim that D-Wave’s qubits aren’t actually quantum. Over the last year or so, thanks to peer-reviewed studies that have explored the D-Wave One’s inner workings, this criticism has faded.
This new study, from Catherine McGeoch of Amherst College, goes some way to confirming the D-Wave Two’s quantumness — but at the same time, her research shows that the D-Wave Two is nothing like the real, general-purpose quantum computers that should revolutionize the world we live in. D-Wave’s quantum computers use quantum annealing (a type of adiabatic quantum computation) to solve optimization problems — and really, onlyoptimization problems. A true quantum computer, however, should use quantum entanglement.
As you probably know, quantum entanglement is incredibly finicky. The current state of the art doesn’t allow us to harness more than one or two entangled qubits for a few microseconds. Quantum annealing, however, can be performed with much noisier, lower-quality qubits — which is why D-Wave has managed to produce a 439-qubit system that works outside the lab, in a normal office setting. D-Wave’s qubit chips still need to be cooled to near-absolute-zero (0.02K, -273.13C), though, and the qubits (loops of niobium) are still so fickle (affected by external electromagnetic radiation) that each calculation is carried out 1,000 times to ensure its accuracy. Despite all this, there’s still no guarantee that the final solution will be optimal (but it usually is).
To perform the quantum vs. conventional computer speed test, three NP-hard optimization problems were carried out on a variety of systems: A D-Wave Two system containing a Vesuvius 5 chip (439 qubits), Blackbox (a Vesuvius 5/software hybrid), and three software solvers (CPLEX, METSlib Tabu, Akmaxsat) running on an Intel Xeon E5-2690 CPU (under Ubuntu Linux 12.04). The best example of NP-hard optimization is the traveling salesman problem, where you must devise the shortest route between a given number of destinations. Such optimization is computationally very difficult, but it’s theorized that quantum computers should be able to solve these problems much faster.
The results showed that, where the NP-hard problems could be executed directly on the hardware, the D-Wave system is around 4,000 times faster. When Blackbox had to be used, to break problems down into chunks that Vesuvius can understand, performance tied or bettered the software solvers. The study also briefly tested D-Wave’s newest chip, the Vesuvius 6, and found that it would be around 10,000 times faster than the software solvers.
These results probably pose more questions than they answer, though. We’re still not entirely sure how D-Wave’s chips actually work, and so we have no idea if we’re using them optimally. We also don’t know how the D-Wave chips compare to software solvers that use highly optimized simulated quantum annealing — it’s possible that the software would be just as fast as the hardware. Finally, we must remember that the software was running on a ~$1500 workstation, while the D-Wave Two, which was recently purchased by Lockheed Martin, has a price tag somewhere in the $10+ million range (6666 times more expensive). You could build a petaflop-class supercomputer for $10 million — and not only would it be faster than the D-Wave Two at NP-hard problems, but you could run normal software on it, too!
For more information on the testing methodology, and some (mostly) human readable background on what quantum annealing actually is, check out McGeoch’s research paper [PDF]. McGeoch will present “Experimental Evaluation of an Adiabiatic Quantum System for Combinatorial Optimization” at the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) International Conference on Computing Frontiers next week, in Italy.
The D-Wave One was built on early prototypes such as D-Wave’s Orion Quantum Computer. The prototype was a 16-qubit quantum annealing processor, demonstrated on February 13, 2007 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. D-Wave demonstrated what they claimed to be a 28-qubit quantum annealing processor on November 12, 2007. The chip was fabricated at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratorymicrodevices lab in Pasadena, California.
D-Wave maintains a list of peer-reviewed technical publications by their own scientists and others on their website.
D-Wave was founded by Haig Farris (former chair of board), Geordie Rose (CTO and former CEO), Bob Wiens (former CFO), and Alexandre Zagoskin (former VP Research and Chief Scientist). Farris taught an entrepreneurship course at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where Rose obtained his Ph.D., and Zagoskin was a postdoctoral fellow. The company name refers to their first qubit designs, which used d-wave superconductors.
D-Wave operated from various locations in Vancouver, Canada, and laboratory spaces at UBC before moving to its current location in the neighboring suburb of Burnaby. D-Wave also has offices in Palo Alto, California and Vienna, Virginia.
The first application, an example of pattern matching, performed a search for a similar compound to a known drug within a database of molecules. The next application computed a seating arrangement for an event subject to compatibilities and incompatibilities between guests. The last involved solving a Sudoku puzzle.
According to the company, a conventional front end running an application that requires the solution of an NP-complete problem, such as pattern matching, passes the problem to the Orion system.
According to Geordie Rose, founder and Chief Technology Officer of D-Wave, NP-complete problems “are probably not exactly solvable, no matter how big, fast or advanced computers get”; the adiabatic quantum computer used by the Orion system is intended to quickly compute an approximate solution.
2009 Google demonstration
On Tuesday, December 8, 2009 at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference, a Google research team led by Hartmut Neven used D-Wave’s processor to train a binary image classifier.
D-Wave One computer system
On May 11, 2011, D-Wave Systems announced the D-Wave One, an integrated quantum computer system running on a 128-qubit processor. The processor used in the D-Wave One code-named “Rainier”, performs a single mathematical operation, discrete optimization. Rainier uses quantum annealing to solve optimization problems. The D-Wave One is claimed to be the world’s first commercially available quantum computer system. The price will be approximatelyUS$10,000,000.
A research team led by Matthias Troyer and Daniel Lidar found that, while there is evidence of quantum annealing in D-Wave One, they saw no speed increase compared to classical computers. They implemented an optimized classical algorithm to solve the same particular problem as the D-Wave One.
Lockheed Martin and D-Wave collaboration
On May 25, 2011, Lockheed Martin signed a multi-year contract with D-Wave Systems to realize the benefits based upon a quantum annealing processor applied to some of Lockheed’s most challenging computation problems. The contract included purchase of the D-Wave One Quantum Computer System, maintenance, and associated professional services
Optimization problem-solving in protein structure determination
In August 2012 a team of Harvard University researchers presented results of the largest protein-folding problem solved to date using a quantum computer. The researchers solved instances of a lattice protein folding model, known as the Miyazawa-Jernigan model, on a D-Wave One quantum computer.
In early 2012 D-Wave Systems revealed a 512-qubit quantum computer, code-named Vesuvius, which was launched as a production processor in 2013.
In May 2013 Catherine McGeoch, a consultant for D-Wave, published the first comparison of the technology against regular top-end desktop computers running an optimization algorithm. Using a configuration with 439 qubits, the system performed 3,600 times as fast as CPLEX, the best algorithm on the conventional machine, solving problems with 100 or more variables in half a second compared with half an hour. She added that the comparison is “not quite fair, because generic computers will always perform less well than a device dedicated to solving a specific problem”. The results are presented at the Computing Frontiers 2013 conference.
In May 2013 it was announced that a collaboration between NASA, Google and the USRA launched a Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab at the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division at Ames Research Center in California, using a 512-qubit D-Wave Two that would be used for research into machine learning, among other fields of study.
D-Wave was originally criticized by some scientists in the quantum computing field. On May 16, 2013 NASA and Google, together with a consortium of universities, announced a partnership with D-Wave to investigate how D-Wave’s computers could be used in the creation of artificial intelligence. Prior to announcing this partnership, NASA, Google, and Universities Space Research Association put a D-Wave computer through a series of benchmark and acceptance tests, which it passed. Independent researchers found that D-Wave’s computers could solve some problems as much as 3,600 times faster than particular software packages running on conventional digital computers. Other independent researchers found that different software packages running on a single core of a desktop computer can solve those same problems as fast or faster than D-Wave’s computers (at least 12,000 times faster for quadratic assignment problems, and between 1 and 50 times faster for quadratic unconstrained binary optimization problems).
Their claimed speedup over classical algorithms appears to be based on a misunderstanding of a paper my colleagues van Dam, Mosca and I wrote on “The power of adiabatic quantum computing.” That speed up unfortunately does not hold in the setting at hand, and therefore D-Wave’s “quantum computer” even if it turns out to be a true quantum computer, and even if it can be scaled to thousands of qubits, would likely not be more powerful than a cell phone.
Wim van Dam, a professor at UC Santa Barbara, summarized the scientific community consensus as of 2008 in the journalNature Physics:
At the moment it is impossible to say if D-Wave’s quantum computer is intrinsically equivalent to a classical computer or not. So until more is known about their error rates, caveat emptor is the least one can say.
An article in the May 12, 2011 edition of Nature gives details which critical academics say proves that the company’s chips do have some of the quantum mechanical properties needed for quantum computing. Prior to the 2011 Nature paper, D-Wave was criticized for lacking proof that its computer was in fact a quantum computer. Nevertheless, questions remained due to the lack of conclusive experimental proof of quantum entanglement inside D-Wave devices.
MIT professor Scott Aaronson, who describes himself as “Chief D-Wave Skeptic”, said that D-Wave’s 2007 demonstration did not prove anything about the workings of the Orion computer, and that its marketing claims were deceptive. In May 2011 he said that he was “retiring as Chief D-wave Skeptic”, and reporting his “skeptical but positive” views based on a visit to D-Wave in February 2012. Aaronson said that one of the most important reasons for his new position on D-Wave was the 2011 Nature article. In May 16, 2013 he resumed his skeptic post. He criticizes D-Wave for blowing up results out of proportion on press releases that claim speedups of three orders of magnitude, in light of a paper by scientists from ETH Zurich reporting a 128-qubit D-Wave computer being outperformed by a factor of 15 using regular digital computers and applying classical metaheuristics (particularly simulated annealing) to the problem that D-Wave’s computer was specifically designed to solve.
In January 2014 researchers at UC Berkeley and IBM published a classical model reproducing the D-Wave machine’s observed behavior, suggesting that it may not be a quantum computer.
In March 2014, researchers at University College London and the University of Southern California (USC) published a paper comparing data obtained from a D-Wave Two computer with three possible explanations from classical physics and one quantum model. They found that their quantum model was a better fit to the experimental data than the Shin-Smith-Smolin-Vazirani classical model, and a much better fit than any of the other classical models. The authors conclude that “This suggests that an open system quantum dynamical description of the D-Wave device is well-justified even in the presence of relevant thermal excitations and fast single-qubit decoherence.” 
In May 2014, researchers at D-Wave, Google, USC, Simon Fraser University, and National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University published a paper containing experimental results that demonstrated the presence of entanglement among D-Wave qubits. Qubit tunneling spectroscopy was used to measure the energy eigenspectrum of two and eight-qubit systems, demonstrating their coherence during a critical portion of the quantum annealing procedure.
Notable alumni and collaborators
D-Wave has employed on a permanent or contract basis several key members of the scientific community as well as several notable business consultants. A partial list includes:
Jump up^Next Big Future: Robust and Scalable Flux Qubit, , September 23, 2009
Jump up^Next Big Future: Dwave Systems Adiabatic Quantum Computer , October 23, 2009
Jump up^D-Wave Systems: D-Wave Two Quantum Computer Selected for New Quantum Artificial Intelligence Initiative, System to be Installed at NASA’s Ames Research Center, and Operational in Q3, , May 16, 2013
Jump up^Kaminsky; William M. Kaminsky and Seth Lloyd (2002-11-23). “Scalable Architecture for Adiabatic Quantum Computing of NP-Hard Problems”. Quantum Computing & Quantum Bits in Mesoscopic Systems (Kluwer Academic) (PDF).arXiv:quant-ph/0211152.
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I intend to complain to WordPress tonight about these offensive ads and try to convince them to remove them from my blog posts. I don’t know if there is a way to do this but I’ll try.
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September 9th was the fifth anniversary of the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that killed (murdered) CPUC Gas Ratepayer Advocate Mrs. Jacqueline (Jackie) Greig and her thirteen year old daughter, Janessa. Mrs. Greig was the head of her department and was in charge of approving a 3.6 billion dollar rate increase proposal submitted by PG&E […]
Alan Wang (KGO Reporter) SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — PG&E is waiting to get hit with criminal charges. The federal government is expected to go after the utility for that pipeline disaster in San Bruno more than three years ago. The gas explosion was always a crime in the eyes of Gayle Masuno whose 87-year old […]
Well, I just finished the story about attending the Subcommittee meeting and I must say, it wasn’t easy. It was difficult for several reasons but most of them had to do with me being new to blogging, especially this particular template that you see here. Even though both of my blogs are on WordPress (which […]