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[Column] Quantum Computing Age to Come ... Big Blue IBM Seeking Opportunities for a New Leap

"I'm not happy with all the analyses that go with just the classical theory, because nature isn't classical, and if you want to make a simulation of nature, you'd better make it quantum mechanical..." At 'Physics of Computation Conference' in 1981, a physicist Richard P. Feynman first delivered the message that quantum computing is needed. Since then, after several decades of steady development and research, we are now in the process of defining quantum computing and developing algorithms. So, IT companies such as Microsoft, Google and IBM are developing a 50-qubit quantum computer and are working hard on research. When quantum computing is applied to various fields in the future, a number of things that the existing computers could not do will become possible. Existing computers computed and processed information using a binary system of 'Bit' using 0 or 1. Quantum computers, however, use the principles of quantum physics, also called quantum mechanics. They use 'Qubit (a.k.a Quantum Bit)' which allows 'superstition' state of 0 and 1, such as 00, 01, 10, and 11. Since they exist in an 'entangled' state, once a change occurs in one qubit, the other entangled qubit can quickly process it. In this way, as quantum computers can simultaneously exist in multiple states and act on all the states, it becomes possible to do numerous calculations separately at the same time with only one processor. Today, there are about 3 billion transistors in smartphones. To double the performance of this smartphone, about 6 billion transistors will be needed. On the other hand, the performance of quantum computers can be expressed as 'n square(s) of 2' with n qubit(s) because of the property of 'superstition' state. For example, if you want to double the performance of a device that has 16 qubits, you only need to add 1 qubit. Quantum computing is incomparably faster than computers using 0 and 1 bits. It will be possible to calculate the formula that humans calculate for hundreds of years within a few seconds. ▲ IBM has made it possible for anyone to experience Quantum Computing through IBM Q. (Image source: www.research.ibm.com/ibm-q) IBM has spent the past 100 years cultivating the foundations of IT and seeding it, and now it is changed to a completely different shape. Vacuum tubes, switches, punched cards, quantum computers and AI all exist in the history of IBM. Moreover, cutting out the history of x86 hardware that it had started and the shift from massive hardware- to technology-centered is also a specialness of IBM's history. Therefore, its history and journeys have a special meaning and need to be watched with interest. IBM pointed out three areas as the possible application areas for quantum computing in the future. First, it is expected to be a field of Chemistry including material design, oil and gas, and drug discovery. In fact, IBM published the results of the simulation using quantum algorithms with chemistry in September 2017 in the international science journal, Nature. The second area is predicted to be Artifical Intelligence (AI), which is a key technology of the 4th industrial revolution, including classification, machine learning, and linear algebra. Lastly, the quantum computing will take effect in a field of Financial Services, especially in the sectors of portfolio optimization, scenario analysis and pricing. Quantum computing's development phases include 'Quantum Foundations', which defines the basics of everything in quantum computing, 'Quantum Ready', which can develop algorithms and expand the sizes. And finally, 'Quantum Advantage' is a phase to commercialization and application to reality with quantum computing. Currently, IBM and also other IT companies researching quantum computing are at just beyond the middle of the 'Quantum Ready' phase. In fact, IBM expects quantum computing to be the mainstream in the next five years, and by 2020 it will be at the phase of 'Quantum Advantage'. In preparation for 'Quantum Ready' phase, IBM launched the Quantum Computing Platform called IBM Q Experience in 2017, making it accessible to anyone including students and researchers. At first, only 5 qubits were available, but now, up to 16 qubits are available. Released with IBM Q Experience, the Quantum Information Science Kit (QISKit) is an open source quantum computing system for developers to help make today's quantum development process and research more active. IBM is working on a 100-qubit quantum computer with the goal of developing it by 2020. The 100-qubit quantum computer has the ability to simulate all the atoms in the universe. ▲ The development of quantum computing will reduce this entire data center to just a few racks. (Image source: Samsung SDS) The performance improvements of existing transistor-based computer systems so far are approaching a certain physical limitation. Semiconductor processes are already nearing the level of physically close to the size of electrons, and the interest in what will happen to the next generation of silicon-based semiconductors is growing. Accordingly, the quantum computing has long been anticipated as an innovative way to go beyond "physical barriers." Given the impacts of quantum computing on us, it is likely to lead the changes beyond the cloud than what we see in the near future for various practical issues. This may be because the operation conditions of the initial system will be as tricky as a superconductor. On top of that, quantum computing is evaluated as a "double-edged sword". This is because it is expected to have the power to cause the collapse of the existing encryption system as well as the change in both the existing infrastructure and service structure. In fact, in March 2017, the world's largest security conference, 'RSA 2017', discussed the threats and countermeasures of quantum computer's threats to the existing encryption technology. Especially, the National Security Agency (NSA) has predicted that quantum computing technology could destroy the current code order since 2016. Canadian research institute 'Global Risk Institute' also claimed that it is higher than 50 percent that the current encryption system is collapsed due to quantum computers in 2031. For now, if quantum computing is commercialized and exploited, it is expected to pose a major threat to any industry based on IT technology. Worldwide web communications, Internet banking, and even cryptocurrency will be exposed to the crisis, and it will be time to change all the systems and structures. With these peculiarities in mind, quantum computing researchers will not only focus on the development of quantum computers but will also work in a direction of enhancing the quality of life after its commercialization. In other words, they should be focused on harmoniousness with other industries. That will be a major premise of 'Quantum Computing' for humans.

Google Play Audiobook Korea Release Demonstration Session

On January 24, 2018, Google held ‘Google Play Audiobook Korea Release Demonstration Session‘ in its office in Gangnam-gu, Seoul. The session was held to announce the outline and characteristics of Google Play's audiobook service, which was released on January 24th in Korea time, with Jae-hui Kwon, manager of Google Play Global Product Partnership Team, and Oh-jun Kwon, leader of Contents Business at Audiensori. According to the announcement, Google unveiled the Google Play Audiobook service, which can be enjoyed in the Google Playbook app. The service was first launched in 45 countries, including Korea, and supports a total of nine languages including Korean. ▲ The demonstration session of Audiobook service Korea release was held. ▲ Korea is included among the first-releasing 45 countries, and Korean is supported. The Google Play Audiobook service is a sound book service that allows you to listen to the contents of a book, and provides various categories of audiobooks and bestsellers based on the global library provided by publishers worldwide through Google Play Books. Through this service, domestic users can enjoy books produced in Korea as well as overseas books as audio books, and some of overseas books are provided free of charge. In particular, Google Play Audiobook service utilizes machine learning technology to automatically generate and provide a detailed table of contents that facilitates navigation underneath the main table of contents. Machine learning technology divides the text of an eBook and the words of an audiobook into syntactic units and automatically generates a detailed table of contents considering the flow of natural contents and a table of contents by detailed table of contents. By applying an individual book purchasing model, users can purchase an audiobook that they want at a 10% discount without any burden of subscription service. In addition, they can listen to a part of the audiobook through free pre-listening before purchasing and decide to make a purchase, and the purchased book is stored in the Google Playbook app, so users can easily check the list of purchased books. Google Play Audiobook service can be used on a variety of devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops using platforms such as Android, iOS, and Chrome Web. It also provides functions that are optimized for user’s lifestyle such as sleep timer settings, playback speed settings, skip forward button, listening to each table of contents, checking remaining time, background playback, and offline playback. In addition, through interworking with Google Assistant, which is Google’s artificial intelligence voice secretary system, a number of ‘hands-free’ functions such as voice commands will be provided to Google Play Audiobook service in sequence. Jae-hui Kwon, who introduced Google Play Audiobook service, said, ”Google Play, which has provided a variety of digital content such as games, movies, and books, is launching an audiobook service in the book sector followed by e-book. In particular, this is an innovative service with machine learning that users can use more conveniently in daily life. As interests and demands for audiobooks grow, we will provide richer audiobook contents.” ▲ The Google Play Books app lets you use the Google Play Audiobook service. ▲ It automatically generates and provides a detailed table of contents under the basic table of contents using machine learning technology. After the introduction of Google Play Audiobook Service, the introduction of the features and usage of audiobooks was followed. The audiobook, which means a book listened by ear, is a content produced for users to read more happily. It is produced by a method in which a plurality of voice actors who fit the characters read directly without mixing the TTS, and live sound effects and background music are added. In the past, audiobooks were produced mainly for the blind, but now they are getting the spotlight as a new way of reading. As for the process of producing an audiobook, after selecting the works and proceeding with the script work, the recording is carried out in the state where the music and effects are prepared. After the editing process and quality verification, it is then provided to users in a way of distributing the finished data. For listening purposes of audiobooks, users answered that they mainly use the audiobook contents to enjoy their own contents or to take advantage of free time while moving. Self-development, poetry, essay, genre literature are ranked as preferred genres. Oh-jun Kwon, leader of Contents Business at Audiensori, who introduced about an audiobook, said, ”Audiobooks are gaining attention from people who prefer to use free time, as well as from voice actors and students, and the number of users is rapidly increasing. I look forward to expanding the basics of audiobook users through our partnership with Google Play, and Audiensori will try to provide better content.”

Epic Games Korea 'Fortnite' Media Showcase

Epic Games Korea, the Korean subsidiary of Epic Games, held a media showcase at Grand Intercontinental Seoul Parnas in Gangnam-gu, Seoul on the morning of 19th January, 2018. The event was organized to introduce features and service schedule of Epic Games' action building game 'Fortnite' in advance of domestic service with some officials of Epic Games Korea including Country Manager Sung-chul Park, Won-se Lee, in charge of domestic business, and Hee-uk Yoon, in charge of marketing, in attendance. Sung-chul Park, Country Manager of Epic Games Korea said, “After Epic Games Korea launched its Korean subsidiary in 2009 for the Unreal Engine business, we feel new since it is the first time to provide service of both the game and engine, which are the main businesses of Epic Games, in Korea through releasing ‘Fortnite’. In order to enable Korean gamers to enjoy games in an optimal environment, we made our best effort to the domestic service of ‘Fortnite’ through Korean localization, real-time global one build contents, and various Korean exclusive benefits. In addition, as we have introduced the game to be rated for over 12 years old so that teenage gamers can also enjoy a Battle Royal game, I would like to ask you a lot of attention to the service of ‘Fortnite’ in Korea.” ▲ Epic Games Korea's "Fortnite" media showcase was held. ▲ Sung-chul Park, Country Manager of Epic Games Korea said, “We made our best effort to the domestic service of ‘Fortnite’. I would like to ask you a lot of attention to the service of ‘Fortnite’ in Korea.” According to the announcement, 'Fortnite' is an Action-Building game that combines elements of battle, construction and action. Its biggest advantage is that users can enjoy creative new concept of battle play with unique skins and emotions over a normal shooting game that users simply shoot down enemies. Especially by dissolving easy play and in-depth game elements into the game, it has been loved by gamers from all over the world right from its release. In July 2017, 'Fortnite' was released ‘Save the World’, a new concept of action building system that four players cooperate with each other through role division into battle and construction as an early access version through Epic Game’s platform ‘Epic Games Launcher’. In September 2017, ‘Fortnite Battle Royal’, a PvP mode separate from ‘Save the World’ was released free of charge. Epic Games has recorded 10 million users in two weeks after launching the 'Fortnite Battle Royal' mode, followed by 20 million users in 72 days, 40 million users in 100 days, and 1.75 million concurrent connected users (CCU). With more than 2 million CCU, it has been recorded as one of the fastest growing games. ▲ In 100 days, it recorded 40 million users and 1.75 million CCU. Regarding the service of 'Fortnite', Epic Games implemented a complete 'Global One Build' policy that simultaneously releases the same content all over the world. Also, it stated that it will never introduce a business model that would impair the game’s fairness such as 'Pay-to-Win' items. It made it clear that it will respond strongly to illegal users such as cheat program users. In addition, Epic Games will continue to provide fresh and new pleasure through fast content updates. It will focus on high quality localization that is more readable than English version and has familiar fonts for Korean users to continue to develop the game. Epic Games has produced the first CF of 'Fortnite' in Korea, produced by Jung-hoon Park, a film director of the movie ‘The Villainess’, and Actor Sang-hoon Jung. It also plans to launch special events for domestic gamers such as releasing a limited edition T-shirt made by designer brand ‘Super Rocket Punch’, and providing Battle Pass to all the pre-orderers who play the game within two weeks after the launch. ▲ Various events for Korean users are prepared. ▲ Epic Games has produced the first CF of 'Fortnite' in Korea, produced by Jung-hoon Park, a film director of the movie ‘The Villainess’, and Actor Sang-hoon Jung. Sung-chul Park, Country Manager of Epic Games Korea, who came back on stage after the presentation of all the information about 'Fortnite', announced that Korea service of 'Fortnite' will start from January 23. Meanwhile, Epic Game’s Game Developer Tim Sweeney sent a video message. “The most important thing to consider when we make a game is 'fun', so we create a game that we want to play. We took six years to develop the game that users can enjoy tense fast-action as well as building construction with their friends, and the outcome is 'Fortnite'. It is the first time for Epic Games to provide service in Korea in its history of 27 years, so it is our new experience. And, it is expected that Korean users will be ranked first in ‘Fortnite’. Please enjoy the game.” ▲ Tim Sweeney said, “It is expected that Korean users will be ranked first in ‘Fortnite’.”