Quantum at Solstice Click


Quantum at Solstice

Click investigates the weird world of quantum computing, Spencer meets arts legend Marina Abramovic and Dan reviews the leading 360 cameras.


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Now on BBC News,

it is time to Click.

0:00:040:00:08

This week, the wired world of 360

video. The artistic world of Marina

0:00:080:00:18

Abramovic. And the strange world of

quantum computers.

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Imagine a computer that could crack

the world's most secure codes in

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minutes. Design extraordinary new

medicines. Even pave the way to

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intelligent machines. Big tech

companies like Google, IBM and

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Microsoft are all trying to be the

first to achieve a breakthrough in

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the field of quantum computing. But

we are not quite there yet. At the

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moment, if you want a quantum

computer, you need all of this. You

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need your ionising lasers, your

cooling lasers, and your processor.

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You need all of this, and currently

all this can do is add a zero and

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one. But it does do it in a really

cool way. Quantum computers

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harnessed weird and wonderful

phenomena seen only at very small

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scales. The data in an ordinary

computer is represented as its, each

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of which can either be zero or one.

-- bits. A quantum computer,

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instead, users quantum bits or

qubits. Now, these qubits can be

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both zero and one at the same time.

This is called superposition, and it

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is a key feature of a quantum

computer's unique powers. So when a

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quantum computer and one, it is also

adding one and a zero, and one and

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one and one, and zero and zero, all

at the same time. So numbercrunching

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could in theory done much faster on

a quantum computer.

There are a few

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really important things that we know

they will be to do. If we can ever

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build them. So one thing is

searching through a database. So

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lets you have a list of a million

items, say, and you want to find a

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particular item on that list. Well,

all an ordinary computer can do is

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look through that list one at a

time, the first item, the second

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item, and the third item, until

eventually you find the item that

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you are looking for. A quantum

computer can in some sense look at

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all of those items simultaneously.

We know that quantum computers will

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be able to help Artificial

Intelligence learn better and learn

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faster. Optimising things and

designing things, if you're trying

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to design lets say the shape of a

car so that air will flow over it in

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exactly the right way, that as an

optimisation problem. It looks like

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quantum computers are going to be

extremely good at that.

And then

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there is code breaking. If you give

an ordinary computer code to break,

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it will try every possible

combination, one at a time, but give

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a quantum computer a code to break

and it can try all the codes at

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once.

This is a huge area of

application of quantum computers,

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and it is financially the driving

force of putting money in the

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industry and persuading people to

build the things. The first

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government which has a functioning

quantum computer which can break

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secret messages is going to be at a

big advantage, and maybe we want to

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try and hide away the fact that they

have got those capabilities.

And, if

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superposition wasn't weird enough, a

quantum computer's qubits can be

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paired up or entangled, and then can

instantaneously affect each other

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from anywhere else in the universe.

Well, that's all very well in

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theory, but it is really hard in

practice. At Sussex University,

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researchers are preparing for the

challenge of scaling up their

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prototype quantum computers to take

them from handfuls of qubits on the

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lab bench to an industrial scale.

So

what you see is an actual working

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quantum computer. As we are filming

this, you can literally see an atom

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for example be in one state and

another state simultaneously. And

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what you see on this screen is the

evidence that that really occurs.

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That really the atom is very strange

and counterintuitive state. So

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quantum computers have been on the

waiver a long time, the Holy Grail

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of science. And with that, it

actually seemed nearly impossible to

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build them. So people felt maybe it

is just never possible to build such

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a machine. The reason why it is so

hard is because to control quantum

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effects in such a way, allowing us

to build a large-scale quantum

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computer, is tremendously hard.

Quantum effects like if an atom can

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be an two different places at the

same time, or entanglement, which

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Einstein referred to as spooky, is

so hard to control.

At the moment

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these prototypes offer a glimpse of

how these computers might work in

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the future. How will we use them

when we have them? What does a

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quantum computer programme looked

like?

The basic building blocks of a

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quantum computer programme are

really very alien to us. They are

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things like superposition and

entanglement. Those are the right

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high-level concepts to put into our

quantum computer programmes, but it

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is very hard for the human brain to

understand what entanglement is and

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what its consequences are. Thinking

of qubits connected by pieces of

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string actually works extremely well

to help us design and predict

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quantum programmes and predict what

they will do. So perhaps a high

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level quantum programme manager of

the future could look like I'm not,

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or could look like children's game

of untangling fishing lines and see

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who has which fish -- a knot. You

imagine going up and down and coiled

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around, and the pattern of how those

strings interact has a bearing on

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your quantum programme.

I do feel

the programmers have a little bit of

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time to sort their software out,

though, because the hardware is also

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still a work in progress. I have

gone underground to see Oxford

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University's quantum computer. The

lab is a wizard's paradise of

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lasers, vacuum chambers, and traps

for atom sized particles. It is an

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ion trap. In the lab, they have

achieved a world record level of

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control over their quantum bits.

They can even show off by making a

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single qubit low in Morse code.

Click. What will your quantum

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computer look like? It won't be the

size?

So ideally it looks incredibly

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boring and incredibly small. So

takes an optic cable, two metres by

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one metre high, we think we can get

this down to something the size of a

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shoebox in the next five years.

Once

you have everything in the right

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place.

Once we have everything the

right place, machine down,

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optimised, and rather than made by

physicists, made by engineers.

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Rather having knobs, when you have

enough people twisting them.

You are

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not looking to put more and more

qubits into the same box, are you?

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What we want to do is build some

devices which contain five or ten

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qubits, but build many of these

devices. So it's the same as if you

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have a supercomputer. Nowadays you

don't have one big computer, you

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have lots of small computers, and

data centres thrumming with lots of

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different machines. That is what we

envisage these things are.

It does

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seem like it is not the most

efficient design, if you're plugging

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lots of these things together with

optic fibre rather than making a

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quantum computer that has 50 qubits

in one place.

Yes, the most

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efficient device we could ever build

would have all the qubits being able

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to talk to every other qubit. That

is ideally the place where you want

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to be. But you always get to the

point where you can't put any more

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qubits in the device. At that point,

we want to have a network we can

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build-up. So once you have got as

big as you can with these

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techniques, you can then network and

together to build and bigger

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networks.

The huge potential of

quantum imputing has attracted big

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tech players. Google told us it will

have something big to announce in

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March 2018. IBM has a 20 qubits

quantum computer that researchers

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can programme over the internet.

Both these companies are trying to

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build reliable quantum computers of

around 50 qubits. Now, at this point

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they will achieve something called

quantum supremacy, which sounds

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world changing, but it might not be.

Why I don't like the phrase is that

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when you cross that boundary,

nothing instantaneously magical

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happens. It is just the point at

which you can't predict what the

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machine would do. It is the point

that the machine might be useful for

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something, but to be honest, we

haven't worked out anything that,

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say, a 60 qubit wanton computer

could usefully do. So it is into the

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uncharted territory, very exciting,

but it is not at the point where the

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quantum hardware is supreme. You

should not throw away your phone or

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your desktop and have a quantum

computer instead.

So with more tech

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companies getting serious about

quantum computing, there is now a

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place for them to show off their

ideas. It is the quantum

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technologies fair in London, and we

have been along to see what is on

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the quantum horizon. When it comes

to quantum computer, a lot of the

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research seems to be happening in

academia but I wanted to find out

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how much of it is being taken away

from the lab bench for applications

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in the real world. Every stall at

this fare is using the same tech

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used in quantum computing. The

principles of trapping, manipulating

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and measuring tiny atom sized

particles. But the practical

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applications here are creative, and

potentially life changing, from

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diamonds used in heart disease

sensing to capturing individual

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virus particles.

They are really

designed to be able to measure very,

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very sensitively, at very small

lengths, so it is ideal for things

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like nano particles, like viruses,

and indeed for measuring chemical

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signatures, as well. Use the mouse

to move that scaled back and forth,

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it should be fairly obvious when it

flashes really bright. There you go,

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that's it. When it Wiggles around,

that is when you have got a particle

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trapped in your resonator.

The

ultimate aim is that viruses could

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be picked up using this diagnostic

tool. But the main focus now for

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most people here is on overcoming

the engineering challenge of making

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large, bulky systems a lot, lot

smaller. Heavy industry all the way

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through to defence and security,

transport, and air technologies. It

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is incredible to see how many stalls

here our research in so many

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different areas when it comes to

quantum technology. And they are all

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working together with an open source

mentality, along with a lot of

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investment. The British government

spent £270 million over the last

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five years on quantum technology

research.

The collaborative element,

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especially the number of things that

NPL is involved in, because we have

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a lot of the core technology and

science, and we are just looking at

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what are the actual applications in

the UK business world.

From afar, a

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lot of the applications here still

looked like complex machinery, but

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Anne Curtis has been looking at its

potentials in an important area,

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far, far away.

So one of the main

applications we can use the quantum

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technologies is quantum sensors and

what we are doing in this experiment

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is we want to sense greenhouse gases

and measure how much there is, how

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that is changing over time. And one

good way to monitor large-scale

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systems is from space. To put

something properly on a satellite,

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it has to go through all the space

qualifying test, so every item in

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they would have to be space

qualifying. Most of the fibre

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technology isn't so good in space

due to radiation effects. But there

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is no reason why this couldn't be

miniaturised and put up in the

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space, it is just the next stage of

funding.

It is so hard to be here

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today and not feel excited about

wanton technologies. At one thing

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everybody has said to me is that

their particular real-world

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applications are a few years in the

future still. So, when it comes to

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quantum computing, it is still very

much a case of watch this space.

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Hello, and welcome to the week in

Tech. It was the week that the

0:13:110:13:17

Federal Communications commission in

America voted to repeal rules on net

0:13:170:13:21

neutrality, which had stopped

internet service providers from

0:13:210:13:25

offering different speeds and

priorities for users online. An

0:13:250:13:30

elongated asteroid was being checked

for signs of alien technology, and

0:13:300:13:33

here on Earth, the faces of 2

billion people can be compared in a

0:13:330:13:37

matter of seconds with a minority

report style system from China. It

0:13:370:13:42

was also the week that Netflix was

caught up in a creepy viewing

0:13:420:13:46

controversy after revealing on

Twitter that 53 subscribers watched

0:13:460:13:50

the holiday film a Christmas Prints

every day for ten days. It

0:13:500:13:57

represented overall trends are not

specific individuals. The city of

0:13:570:14:01

San Francisco has banned the use of

delivery robots on most of its

0:14:010:14:05

sidewalks, stating not all

innovation is all that great for

0:14:050:14:08

society. Meanwhile, Dutch police say

it may not have been such a good

0:14:080:14:12

idea to use beagles to catch drones

after all. Who could have guessed as

0:14:120:14:16

Maxine here on Click on the birds

were trained to catch the drones

0:14:160:14:20

from the sky but the cost of keeping

them was too high, and they didn't

0:14:200:14:25

always do what they were told. And

finally, if you are missing Harry

0:14:250:14:28

Potter, don't despair. Artificial

Intelligence may have a solution for

0:14:280:14:31

you. A new chapter has been created

for a book called Harry Potter and

0:14:310:14:36

what looked like a poor job of a

large pile of ash. Its plot twists

0:14:360:14:40

include Harry dipping Hermione in

hot sauce and Ron turning into

0:14:400:14:43

spiders and trying to eat Hermione's

family.

0:14:430:14:50

Earlier this year we looked at some

of the 360 cameras which have taken

0:14:500:14:55

off in 2017. Daniel films with the

new kid on the block, the 360 --

0:14:550:15:01

Insta1 in Berlin. He was impressed,

easy-to-use, lots of features,

0:15:010:15:06

including this bullet time mode, a

bit like the film the matrix, where

0:15:060:15:10

you can get a picture of your sort

from all angles. But one of -- but

0:15:100:15:15

what have the more established names

in photography got to offer us? With

0:15:150:15:19

Christmas around the corner we sent

Daniel to a suitably festive place

0:15:190:15:22

to put two 360 cameras through their

paces. The ancient city of Bath

0:15:220:15:29

hosts a very traditional Christmas

market, one that I want to catch in

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the round. I've got to make cameras

for the job. One is from Kodak. The

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other is Nikon's. They look similar,

with two ultra- wide-angle lenses

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capturing everything before the two

images are stitched together in

0:15:440:15:47

Camara. Look closer, and you will

see the Kodak sporting two different

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lenses, one smaller than the other,

superwide 235 degrees lens. It also

0:15:520:15:59

has the tiniest of it controlled in

the world, and a slightly higher

0:15:590:16:02

price tagged them the Nikon. Our

producer has the Kodak, while I am

0:16:020:16:09

putting the Nikon through its paces.

Now, we don't just want to test

0:16:090:16:13

these cameras out in daylight when

all the conditions are absolutely

0:16:130:16:16

perfect. With these cameras we want

to test them out to see what they

0:16:160:16:22

are like as it starts to get dark.

Will the bright lights be a problem,

0:16:220:16:26

and will we see all of the details?

Time to go for a wander and see

0:16:260:16:30

who's 360 is best. Dive in, ladies.

Don't let me get in your way. In no

0:16:300:16:37

time at all I found the vested with

the stand. Not just whine, but

0:16:370:16:41

flavoured vodka here. The Nikon is

not put off by those flashing

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lights. But the image is a little

dark, so we will brighten it for you

0:16:460:16:51

in postproduction. There you go. Now

you can see the other problem. The

0:16:510:16:55

image stitching means I've almost

lost my head before touching the

0:16:550:16:58

job. -- touching a drop. The Kodak's

which is brighter than the Nikon,

0:16:580:17:04

but we found the quality from that

wide-angle lens was softer than the

0:17:040:17:08

smaller lens on the other side of

the device of course, you are best

0:17:080:17:12

off with a stick attached to both of

these cameras, otherwise your hands

0:17:120:17:16

get in the way. To make the test

pharaoh we decided to see how these

0:17:160:17:23

cameras fared back to back. Or front

in front. All back to front. Well,

0:17:230:17:27

it is difficult to tell, to be

honest. We shot them side by side.

0:17:270:17:33

Look at this. We found a 360 Globe

for a 360 camera. And it is the

0:17:330:17:42

Nikon showing off more natural

colours, benefiting from a more

0:17:420:17:46

accurate wide balance. Although some

might prefer the warmer Kodak

0:17:460:17:49

results. It is very Christmassy. At

the chilly side a shop, the Kodak

0:17:490:17:59

warmed things up, while the nickel

and kept things natural and crisp.

0:17:590:18:02

Both cameras struggled to stitched

their shots to go perfectly. This is

0:18:020:18:07

the raw footage was no touching up.

The Nikon has done a reasonable job.

0:18:070:18:11

The stitching point is more visible

on the Kodak, partly because of the

0:18:110:18:15

different qualities of those two

lenses. On the upside, it is Kodak

0:18:150:18:20

that offers the ability to play with

how the images are stitched together

0:18:200:18:23

in its free software, something the

Nikon's more basic offering lacks.

0:18:230:18:28

For sheer fun, the Kodak also offers

greater flexibility when playing

0:18:280:18:31

back what you shot. This is little

planet mode. If you want to do it on

0:18:310:18:37

the Nikon you will need some

third-party 360 software which may

0:18:370:18:41

need additional cost. -- mean

additional cost. Finally, beating

0:18:410:18:46

everybody forgets when they use a

camera, sound.

It is very odd being

0:18:460:18:52

filmed.

We are being filmed as well,

it is 360.

And goodness me.

You can

0:18:520:18:58

tell she has had too much cider, it

is moving around a bit.

I'm just

0:18:580:19:03

called! We reckon both do a great

job, but the nickel is slightly

0:19:030:19:08

clearer. Although the Kodak offers

the possibility of attaching an

0:19:080:19:11

external microphone. So which camera

will enthusiasts be hoping Santa

0:19:110:19:14

brings them this year? We believe

the Kodak edges it for easier

0:19:140:19:20

postproduction, while the Nikon has

a better shot. But if you are hoping

0:19:200:19:24

for a trouble-free, cinematic

seamless result for under £400, you

0:19:240:19:28

may have to wait until something

else takes off. At least for now.

0:19:280:19:42

This is Acute art, a virtual reality

arts platform and a gallery without

0:19:420:19:47

walls. And it is about to launch

with the VR works by some of the

0:19:470:19:51

world's leading contemporary

artists. Amongst these works is won

0:19:510:20:02

by Marina Abramovitch, these

self-confessed grandmother of

0:20:020:20:05

performance arts who pushes her body

to the limits to challenge and move

0:20:050:20:08

people. Well, there is Marina. In a

tank of water. Well, she seems to

0:20:080:20:24

want to talk to me, but the water is

rising up her body.

Immersive

0:20:240:20:34

player, in real life, where someone

rescues another person, or offers

0:20:340:20:41

aid of any kind, there is a transfer

of energy. Approach the water.

I

0:20:410:20:52

think she wants me to touch the

glass.

Make contact.

Oh. Oh, OK,

0:20:520:21:04

right. Now I am somewhere very cold

and everything seems to be going

0:21:040:21:08

wrong. As always, with VR, you

really get a sense of scale. But ice

0:21:080:21:13

shelf looks absolutely enormous. And

it is crashing down right in front

0:21:130:21:19

of me. This work is an expression of

Marina's fear that humans will not

0:21:190:21:24

survive the consequences of climate

change if we don't change our

0:21:240:21:27

behaviour. I'm being covered in

spray. And now there is a note.

I

0:21:270:21:41

will walk instead of drive. I will

reuse what I can. I will reduce the

0:21:410:21:46

wayside cause.

Marina wants to leave

the participants with a feeling they

0:21:460:21:53

should do something good for the

planet.

We have to save this planet

0:21:530:21:57

that we are living on. I want to

create a little contract with the

0:21:570:22:05

planet Earth, and give my word

honour that I will do something to

0:22:050:22:09

save it. -- literal contract.

SCREAMING.

You are pretty well-known

0:22:090:22:17

for pushing your body further than

most people would want to push their

0:22:170:22:21

bodies. Here, you appear virtually

in a tank of water, but I get the

0:22:210:22:28

sense that you still need some

pretty real stuff to make it seem as

0:22:280:22:31

real as possible?

You know,

actually, to do this, I have to

0:22:310:22:36

really be in the water. We did it in

a swimming pool, with two divers

0:22:360:22:41

holding my legs. So I can really go

in and see can feel like I would

0:22:410:22:49

actually die if I didn't have any

more air to breathe. It is funny

0:22:490:22:53

that you have to do something which

is virtual, but you still have to do

0:22:530:22:57

it physically.

Before, you said you

don't think your performances can be

0:22:570:23:01

captured adequately with photos or

videos because you need to be there,

0:23:010:23:05

you need the experiences, it is

about actually physically being

0:23:050:23:13

there. I wonder if virtual reality

is close enough to being the, and

0:23:130:23:17

that is why you chose it, because it

is almost being there?

It is very

0:23:170:23:22

important, the energy dialogue

between the audience and the

0:23:220:23:25

performer. And the only thing that

can catch it, before it was video

0:23:250:23:30

with sound and movement, but virtual

reality is really another step

0:23:300:23:34

further, because you can go around

the objects, you can interact, you

0:23:340:23:37

can do this. But still, I think it

is a question of how much energy and

0:23:370:23:42

charisma can actually transfer from

the real performance into the

0:23:420:23:46

virtual body.

The rather mesmerising

Marina Abramovic. We will hear more

0:23:460:23:57

from Marina in next week's

programme, which is the Christmas

0:23:570:24:01

show, so expect tons of sensible

journalism and no fun whatsoever.

0:24:010:24:05

Maybe. In the meantime, you can

follow us on Facebook and on

0:24:050:24:11

Twitter, where we live at the BBC

click. Thanks for watching, and we

0:24:110:24:16

will see you next week for

Christmas.

0:24:160:24:25

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