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In tropical and equatorial regions country, there are blessed with alround year sun shine, our face and skin are also enjoying this full year exposure of sunlight. Therefore, sometimes brown or gray…Continue
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has stated that his government was not involved in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto but many Bhutto supporters have angrily blamed Musharraf for her death by…Continue
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This week we sat down for an interview with Qubit the dog, whose human Julian Kelly is one of our lead Research Scientists with Google Quantum AI. Qubit was born in 2012, right when Julian and team were first designing the qubits that now underlie Google’s quantum computers. He nearly received the honor of pressing the submit button for the team’s beyond-classical result published in Nature, but he was narrowly edged out by a human.
Qubit has never been interviewed before on such a range of technical and philosophical topics, so it was a privilege to have the opportunity -- a transcript of the discussion follows.
Thank you for taking the time to sit down for this, Qubit. Given the complexity and depth of the topic, I was hoping we could jump right in. I first wanted to ask -- where do you think we are in the “hype cycle” of quantum computing? Is this analogous to earlier hype cycles around ecommerce, AI, mobile technology or other major shifts where the hype may have led to “winters” for some time before the technology caught up and eventually surpassed the initial expectations about the significance of its impact on users and society, especially in terms on unexpected applications and feedback dynamics?
Okay, that makes sense, there does seem to be a certain unavoidable nature to that cycle that resolves itself naturally. But how should we consider investment in alternate veins of quantum computing research and development -- for example, while there appears to be a viable roadmap for superconducting qubits, with evidence that error suppression can scale and enable a fully fault-tolerant large-scale quantum computer within the decade, does it make sense to also explore more speculative approaches such as photonics or spin qubits?
[Licks rear left foot]
Granted, that may all shake out in time as these technical milestones prove out. What, if I may ask, has led to Google being able to publish the series of verified empirical demonstrations that it has? We’ve seen a number of exciting firsts -- the first demonstration of a beyond-classical computation of any kind on a quantum computer in 2019, the most impressive chemistry simulation on a quantum computer earlier in 2021, and most recently the first demonstration that errors can be exponentially suppressed with the number qubits. What about Google’s team or particular approach allows for this pace of breakthroughs?
[Smiles, pants amicably]
Qubit inspecting a dilution refrigerator for proper signal routing
Maybe that confidence is warranted. Of course, even if the technical path is reasonable, there are a lot of open questions about the eventual applications of quantum computing. Google’s group includes “AI” in its name -- Google Quantum AI -- so I assume you think quantum computing could eventually lead to more effective forms of machine learning? Or are you more excited about applications such as simulating chemical reactions and exotic materials, so we might develop better batteries and solar panels, or achieve efficient nitrogen fixation for farming fertilizer and save 2% of the world’s carbon emissions?
And do you subscribe to the “many worlds” hypothesis, and the notion that quantum computers’ power will come from essentially processing information in other parallel universes, or is this perhaps too far-fetched and unnecessary for understanding where the double exponential speedup, that is, “Neven’s Law,” comes from? Is a more conventional understanding all we need to grasp the implications of this new regime of compute space?
Thank you so much. One last question, and then I’ll let you go -- what’s the deal with time crystals?
[Blinks twice, then trots off to get a treat.]
With accessibility features on Chromebooks, we want everyone to have a good experience on their computer – so people can get things done, families can play together, students and teachers can learn together, and employees can work productively and efficiently, wherever they are. October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month, so we wanted to share a few recent and new Chromebook features that help people access information in a way that works for them.
People spend a lot of time reading on their laptop, doing things like reading news articles or reviewing school textbooks. Reading on a screen can be less than ideal for many, including people with dyslexia (an estimated 10-20% of the population), low vision, those learning a new language or people who have a hard time focusing on busy text.
With a few clicks, Select-to-speak on Chromebooks allows you to hear selected text on your screen spoken out loud. Earlier this year we added new features like controls to speed up, slow down or pause the reading voice, and to easily jump to different parts of text. Plus, you can choose to highlight the words being spoken while shading background text to help focus your attention.
Today, we’re announcing new, more human sounding voices for Select-to-speak, to help spoken text be more fluid and easier to understand. Natural voices are currently available in various accents in 25 languages with more to come.
To develop this feature, we worked with educators who specialize in dyslexia, as well as individuals with dyslexia. They shared that hearing text read out loud enhances comprehension – especially in an educational setting. By bringing natural-sounding voices to the feature, for example a local accent you’re used to, it’s also easier to follow along with the content being read and highlighted on screen.
Try it out by enabling Select-to-speak in Chromebook settings, and picking your preferred voice. Then select the text you want read out loud and press the Everything Button or Launcher Key + S.
I'm dyslexic and have ADHD and have trouble with reading/learning. You have no idea the amount of knowledge I've had to “let go of” because I simply can't navigate through the words and my attention just would not stick. I'm a great audio learner and have just discovered text-to-speech features. I’m so excited to use this tool!
- Chromebook user with dyslexia
Over the past year, we’ve also made it easier to use, discover and customize Chromebook’s built-in accessibility features. This includes updates to the screen magnifier, like keyboard panning and shortcuts. We have also developed new in-product tutorials for ChromeVox, and we’ve introduced point scanning to make the selection process for switch users more efficient.
As a public middle school Reading & Dyslexia Specialist, accessibility tools are crucial to student success in education… stop, fast forward, and rewind help build metacognition and reading comprehension skills. Thank you for adapting to the accessibility needs of children.
- Sharon McMichael, Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist (C.E.R.I.)
For assistive tech trainers, educators and users with a disability who want to learn more about Chromebook’s accessibility features, this summer we launched an online training program in conjunction with The Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals (ACVREP). This eight-module course covers Chromebook and Google Workspace accessibility features. After completing the free course and final exam, you’ll receive a digital badge as a Chromebook Accessibility expert.
We’ll be back later this year to share more new Chromebook features.
As a Technical Writer for Google Cloud who’s worked in this industry for more than 20 years, technology has had a big impact on my life. It led me to a job that I love, and it keeps me connected to co-workers, friends and family scattered around the world.
But it also helps me to accomplish everyday tasks in ways many people might not realize. I have aniridia, a rare eye condition where the eyes are underdeveloped. Among other things, I’m light sensitive, have about 20/200 vision that isn’t correctable with lenses or surgery, and my eyes move around involuntarily.
Most people don’t realize the extent of my disability because I’m largely independent. The challenges I face on a regular basis are little things that most people take for granted — for example, I don’t experience eye contact, which means I often miss non-verbal cues. And for me, crossing the street is like a real world game of Frogger. Reading menus and shopping can be difficult. Navigating airports or locating my rideshare car can be stressful.
But I’ve used tech to create my own set of “life hacks.” I adjust the magnification of my view of a Google Doc during a meeting, which doesn’t change anyone else’s view of it. I zoom in on instructors during virtual dance classes. I regularly use keyboard shortcuts and predefined text snippets to work more productively. I do lots of planning before trips and save key navigational info in Google Maps. I take photos of menus and labels so I can read them more closely on my phone.
The technologies that help to mitigate the kinds of challenges I face don’t just benefit me, though — they benefit everyone. Features like Dark mode, Assistant, Live Caption — these benefit everyone and make their individual experiences using certain products better. And they can also support people with permanent, situational, or temporary disabilities.
The positive effect of disability-friendly design on a wider population is known as the curb-cut effect. A curb cut is a ramp built into a sidewalk that slopes down to a street. Their primary purpose is to provide access for wheelchairs, but curb cuts actually help many others, including people riding bikes, skateboards or scooters, people pushing strollers or pulling wheeled luggage, and people walking with canes or crutches. So while they were made to help people with disabilities, they actually help so many others.
There’s an important lesson to learn from the curb-cut effect, one that I think about when we are creating new technologies here at Google: If you are involved in designing, creating, selling, or supporting products and services, I challenge you to reframe accessibility as customization. Many people typically view accessibility as an extra feature of a product that is specifically for someone with a disability. But features like Dark mode or captions are really a way to customize your user experience, and these customizations are beneficial to everyone. We all find ourselves in different contexts where we need to adjust how we interact with our devices and the people around us. Design that provides a range of ways to interact with people and our world results in products and services that are more usable — by everyone.