Horizon Scanning – looking ahead with TCCA’s Future Technologies Group
2023-03-07 11:29:00
Horizon Scanning – looking ahead with
TCCA’s Future Technologies Group


TCCA’s Future Technologies Group is for anyone and everyone interested in emerging technologies relevant to mission critical users, and which may utilise mission critical communications as a bearer.
If you are interested in supporting the group by keeping your eyes and ears open for news around new technology, please become a horizon scanner – contact the Group chair Robin Davis.

The Group members contribute by monitoring technological developments reported in the media and elsewhere, looking at emerging technologies and novel use cases of existing technologies that are of potential interest to the critical communications community. Examples include trends in AI, AR, health, security and privacy – and the weird and the wonderful! Read the articles at the links below.
 
Encrypted Comms and Quantum Computing
Quantum Computing Has a Noise Problem - Today’s devices can be thrown off by the slightest environmental interference. Algorithmiq is developing software for noisy quantum computers to counteract this and harness quantum’s power.
President Biden Signs Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act - The bipartisan law encourages the federal government to adopt technology that is protected from decryption by quantum computing. The legislation recognizes that future quantum computers may have the potential to crack most encryption techniques. The law will now require the Office of Management and Budget to prioritize post-quantum cryptography for federal agencies when the acquire or migrate to new IT systems.
Pasqal raises €100M to build a neutral atom-based quantum computer - Pasqal, a Paris-based quantum computing start-up, today announced that it has raised a €100 million Series B funding round let by Singapore’s Temasek. What makes Pasqal, which was founded in early 2019, stand out in an increasingly crowded field of quantum computing start-ups is that the company is betting on neutral atoms quantum computing. This is a relatively new and potentially game-changing approach to building quantum processors.
Amazon just shut down its own encrypted chat app - Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) consumer-focused encrypted chat app Wickr Me is quietly winding down after shutting down sign-ups in December 2022.
UK Home Secretary floats criminalisation of ‘highly encrypted devices’ - The government has unveiled proposals to update the law to criminalise the use of technologies including digital templates for the construction of weapons and “sophisticated encrypted communication devices” that it suggests have no legitimate legal use.
AI & AR
Deception Detection - A group of RAND Corporation researchers found that machine-learning (ML) models can identify signs of deception during national security background check interviews. The most accurate approach for detecting deception is an ML model that counts the number of times that interviewees use common words.
PICO Reveals New VR Headset for Businesses - PICO 4 Enterprise is the first PICO headset to feature precise face, eye, and hand tracking. Supported by two infrared cameras, the headset offers a more immersive and interactive VR experience that empowers meaningful connections for businesses wherever they operate.
Avalon, a reinforcement learning research environment - Generally Intelligent, an AI research company, announced its launch with $20 million in funding. It has open-sourced ‘Avalon’, the first reinforcement learning benchmark of its kind that allows agents to learn from complex, procedurally-generated 3D worlds. Within them, a single agent must learn to solve the types of problems that, in an evolutionary sense, led to the emergence of our species' unique cognitive abilities.
With layoffs, tech companies are quickening the robot revolution - Google, Microsoft and others in Big Tech have announced massive job cuts, as the companies pivot to artificial intelligence projects.
ChatGPT: Everything you need to know about OpenAI's GPT-3 tool - After months of dominating the internet with its AI image generator Dall-E 2, OpenAI is back in everyone’s social media feeds thanks to ChatGPT - a chatbot made using the company's technology GPT-3.
Cybercriminals starting to use ChatGPT - OpenAI released ChatGPT, the new interface for its Large Language Model (LLM), which instantly created a flurry of interest in AI and its possible uses. However, ChatGPT has also added some spice to the modern cyber threat landscape as it quickly became apparent that code generation can help less-skilled threat actors effortlessly launch cyberattacks.
Generative Language Models and Automated Influence Operations: Emerging Threats and Potential Mitigations - OpenAI, Georgetown University’s Center for Security and Emerging Technology and the Stanford Internet Observatory have published a paper looking at how large language models (LLMs) can be (mis)used for disinformation purposes, for example as part of operations to influence public opinion. It considers the role of actors, behaviour and content in influence operations and proposes a mitigations framework for four different stages of what it terms an AI-to-target pipeline: model construction, model access, content dissemination and belief formation.
This start-up is setting a DALL-E 2-like AI free, consequences be damned - DALL-E 2, OpenAI’s powerful text-to-image AI system, can create photos in the style of cartoonists, 19th century daguerreotypists, stop-motion animators and more. But it has an important, artificial limitation: a filter that prevents it from creating images depicting public figures and content deemed too toxic. Now an open-source alternative to DALL-E 2 is on the cusp of being released, and it’ll have few — if any — such content filters.
Google’s AI chatbot Bard makes factual error in first demo - Google announced its AI chatbot Bard — a rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT that’s due to become “more widely available to the public in the coming weeks.” But the bot isn’t off to a great start, with experts noting that Bard made a factual error in its very first demo.
Power & Energy
How old batteries will help power tomorrow’s EVs - Recycling lithium-ion batteries is taking off thanks to companies like Redwood Materials and could help the transition to renewable energy.
What if a battery lasted forever? chemistry student accidentally discovered the way - University of California, Irvine researchers have invented a technology that could change the way future batteries are made. During her doctoral studies, the Chemistry student Mya Le Thai has accidentally developed a technology that could potentially allow a battery to hold eternal charges. Nanowire-based battery material that is able to be recharged unlimited times, brings us a step closer to a battery that would never need replacement.
‘A new industrial age’: Clean energy manufacturing could be worth $650bn annually by 2030 - A major new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) has found that the world is “at the dawn of a new industrial age” focused on clean technology manufacturing that could be worth more than $650bn annually by 2030, provided countries can overcome challenges related to concentrated supply chains and expanding the workforce.
Efficient microwave absorption with MXenes - Drexel University researchers have developed a <1mm vanadium-based MXene polymer coating that absorbs 90% of X-band waves and so serves as a lightweight, broadband microwave absorber. Unlike titanium-based MXenes, which reflect electromagnetic waves, vanadium-based MXenes absorb them and so avoid creating secondary electromagnetic pollution.
Breakthrough in nuclear fusion could mean ‘near-limitless energy’ - Researchers have reportedly made a breakthrough in the quest to unlock a “near-limitless, safe, clean” source of energy: they have got more energy out of a nuclear fusion reaction than they put in.
Beyond 5G, Extending Connectivity 
SpaceX rolls out Starlink internet service for private jets - Starlink, SpaceX's growing network of thousands of internet satellites, will charge customers seeking broadband internet on private jets between $12,500 to $25,000 a month for the service, on top of a one-time $150,000 hardware cost, the company said on its website. It will deliver connectivity of up to 350Mbit/s once its terminals become available to customers in mid-2023.
EU bodies move on home-grown satellite plan - An ambition to create the European Union’s own satellite communications system was advanced by representatives from the European Parliament and Council, which gave the provisional nod to the big-money project.
Emergency SOS via satellite on iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro line-ups made possible by $450 million Apple investment in US infrastructure - A $450 million investment from Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund provides the critical infrastructure that supports Emergency SOS via satellite for iPhone 14 models. Available to customers in the US and Canada, the new service will allow iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Pro models to connect directly to a satellite, enabling messaging with emergency services when outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper satellites will fly on the new Vulcan Centaur rocket in early 2023 - Amazon announced that it plans to launch its two prototype Project Kuiper broadband satellites, Kuipersat-1 and Kuipersat-2, in early 2023 on the maiden flight of United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan Centaur rocket. The company plans to deploy some 3236 Project Kuiper satellites over the next decade.
Amazon to link Kuiper satellites to DoD’s mesh network in space - The US Space Development Agency (SDA) is reported to be discussing with Amazon the inclusion of optical communications terminals on its Kuiper satellites that can connect with the SDA’s military data and connectivity Transport Layer LEO mesh network, which is planned to launch in September 2024. The aim is to enable high-speed data transfers from imaging satellites to military users.
Signal Structure of the Starlink Ku-Band Downlink - A paper describing a blind-signal-identification technique reverse-engineering Starlink Ku-band downlink signals. The technique proposed the use of low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations, such as Starlink, as alternative global navigation satellite systems in a fused communications-positioning, navigation and timing (PNT) model. The paper notes the potential of this technique, which is reported not to have had Starlink’s co-operation, to enable use of its signals as a backup PNT system.
 
 
 
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