Brent: Had my mind blown earlier today by SXSW Convergence Keynote speaker Nonny de la Peña, a journalist who has taken her global journalistic pursuits to virtual reality to give regular people the experience of being in solitary confinement, or in a refugee camp, or in Guantanamo or many other experiences that, while they may not be as fun as The Oasis in “Ready Player One,” have real world impact. If seeing is believing. Then experiencing is, in some way, knowing.
Alright, let’s take the VR goggles off and kick a Beat…
The Big One
A breakdown on the day’s biggest Inno story.
Quantum is Accelerating at the Speed of, Well, Quantum
William Hurley, or whurley as most of the tech scene knows him, took the main stage at SXSW today with a nearly impossible goal: Explain quantum computing to a huge crowd in about an hour. This involved cliff notes on Shor’s Algorithm; tracking the science of quantum back to the 1980s; and explaining that most of the tubes, pipes and cords you see in a quantum computer are just cooling the much smaller, more important processor.
“Fuck number theory, ammirite?!” he said about halfway through his keynote speech during an arcane explanation of an algorithm that led to the rather underwhelming 3×5 = 15.
This is the stuff of physicists and high level computer scientists at IBM, Google and Microsoft. But whurley’s goal in this speech, and to a degree with his new startup, Strangeworks, is to make this crazy sounding shit accessible to more people.
The bigger picture, whether you track the math and history or not, is that whurley believes quantum computing is rapidly accelerating and is the space race of our generation (not A.I.). But he doesn’t buy into the idea of a computing arms race between nations that leads to one nation being able to hack into anything in any other system, since quantum computers could potential beat any kind of modern day encryption. Instead, he sees it more like the iPhone before the app store — a new advance that will usher in a variety of new applications.
“Every single sign that you can find points to more and more interest and more and more resources coming to quantum computing,” whurley said.
That means, he said, an opportunity to solve problems today’s super computers can’t do, such as forecasting complex weather, improving air traffic and, maybe, helping solve climate change.
whurley ended his chat by trying to get us all involved with this strange new thing. He encouraged people to use free tools from IBM (QISKIT) and rigetti (Forrest). Yeah, they may be simulations, but it sets you up for this future whurley — and many others — are seeing.
“Don’t be afraid of this stuff,” he said. “This is not going to break encryption, it’s going to bring stronger encryption… computing is not going to break down anytime soon. This is something that’s going to bring about massive advancements…”
Inside the people, companies and organizations making moves today.
Spendindie Launches at SXSW
Several new startups have emerged during SXSW Interactive. Among them is Spendindie, a startup that hopes to nudge consumers toward buying from local businesses instead of publicly-traded corporate entities. The startup, founded by former investment banker Thad Beversdorf, has built a marketplace platform for independent businesses to sell products in a uniform way designed to make it easy for consumers to buy things quickly without learning a new checkout system. Spendindie will also let people upload product photos at stores or at home. And, if the product gets upvoted enough and goes onto the Spendindie marketplace, the person who posted it gets a cut of each sale — like affiliate marketing. Learn more about Spendindie in this piece we posted earlier today.
Big Upsets in Austin Tech Madness
The first round of voting in Austin Inno’s Tech Madness bracket challenge are in. And there are a ton of big upsets, with 25,000-plus votes cast in round one. Phunware, the app development platform and analytics company that announced it would go public a few days before Tech Madness kicked off, was upset by Waldo Photos, an Austin startup that showed up the night of the event and convinced judges to let it in one of four open spots. Meanwhile, fellow pitch-in startup Verb toppled fast-growing dating app Bumble.
Find other contests and vote in the Round 2 matchups here.