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Self-Driving Cars, Blockchain, Quantum Computing: Technology Goes Futuristic at CES 2018

Arthur C. Clarke said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and this year’s unveilings at CES are testing that adage. From self-driving cars to blockchain, here are some of the debuts from the Las Vegas event that shined brightly, even in the face of a power outage.

Near-Quantum Computing
Intel’s new 49-qubit chip isn’t technically quantum, but makes Intel competitive with IBM and Google in the hunt for “quantum supremacy.” The chip, called Tangle Lake, is not ready for real-world use, since it only functions in super cold temperatures — 20 millikelvin to be exact. But the jump to 49 qubits — or quantum bits — from 17 mere months ago keeps Intel on its timeline to create 1,000-qubit chips within five to seven years. A system with 1,000 qubits could solve a problem 100 million times faster than the typical personal computer and 3,600 times faster than supercomputers.

This is still a far cry from the estimated million it will take for true quantum computing, but the technology is increasingly edging toward reality. It’s hard to fathom just how much quantum computing would transform our understanding of technology — there would be no more traditional bits and bytes, since all bits could be a 0 and a 1 simultaneously. If true quantum computing ever is achieved, this superposition of particles will erase issues, drive down big data processing time, transform our current understanding of encryption and vastly speed up drug discovery, just to name a few applications.  

Blockchain for Photographers
Aimed at enabling the image rights of photographers, Kodak introduced a licensed bitcoin miner, called the KashMiner, and its own cryptocurrency, KodakCoin. The KashMiner would split the earnings, around $9,000 over two years, with the licensee. The currency will create a ledger where photographers can register their work and license it through the encrypted, digital ledger. The news boosted Kodak stocks to more than double in a single day.

Autonomous Cars Everywhere
Driverless cars have been on the agenda for car manufacturers and major tech companies alike for years, and the persistence of this trend continued at CES 2018, with a series of debut concepts and partnerships. Ford announced a pilot program with deliver-anything company Postmates to help retailers reach new customers. Autonomous vehicle company TORC, known for its DARPA Grand and Urban Challenge participation, is pivoting to the commercial market through a safety pilot with AAA to help create safety guidelines around driverless vehicles.

Toyota launched its mobility-as-a-service e-Palette vehicle concept, which will debut at the 2020 Olympics. The company built the futuristic, boxy vehicle for a multitude use cases, from transportation to delivery to retail. "It is an open, flexible platform easily adapted to suit a range of uses, including ride-sharing, delivery and retail," Toyota President Akio Toyoda said to CNBC. "Today you have to travel to the store. In the future, the store will travel to you." Partners like Pizza Hut and Amazon have already signed up to be a part of Toyota’s vendor options.

LinkedIn Competition
The founders of Tinder are edging into social media for professionals with Ripple, an app designed to help you get to know the people around you better. The app aims to chip away at LinkedIn’s stronghold on the work-based social market by leveraging Tinder’s swipe-left, gamification user experience, while also encouraging real-world meetups with local users, instead of blind connect requests from people you may never actually encounter.

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Topics: thought leadership