IBM and MIT kickstarted the age of quantum computing in 1981

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In May 1981, at a conference center housed in a chateau-style mansion outside Boston, a few dozen physicists and computer scientists gathered for a three-day meeting. The assembled brainpower was formidable: One attendee, Caltech’s Richard Feynman, was already a Nobel laureate and would earn a widespread reputation for genius when his 1985 memoir “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!”: Adventures of a Curious Character became a bestseller. Numerous others, such as Paul Benioff, Arthur Burks, Freeman Dyson, Edward Fredkin, Rolf Landauer, John Wheeler, and Konrad Zuse, were among the most accomplished figures in their respective research areas.The conference they were attending, The Physics of Computation, was held from May 6 to 8 and cohosted by IBM and MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science. It would come to be regarded as a seminal moment...

Tomorrow’s computer, yesterday | MIT Technology Review

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Quantum computing as we know it got its start 40 years ago this spring at the first Physics of Computation Conference, organized at MIT’s Endicott House by MIT and IBM and attended by nearly 50 researchers from computing and physics—two groups that rarely rubbed shoulders.  Twenty years earlier, in 1961, an IBM researcher named Rolf Landauer had found a fundamental link between the two fields: he proved that every time a computer erases a bit of information, a tiny bit of heat is produced, corresponding to the entropy increase in the system. In 1972 Landauer hired the theoretical computer scientist Charlie Bennett, who showed that the increase in entropy can be avoided by a computer that performs its computations in a reversible manner. Curiously, Ed Fredkin, the MIT professor who cosponsored the Endicott Conference with Landauer, had...

Scene at MIT: Ruth Anderson, pioneer of mathematics and computing | MIT News

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Ruth Krock Anderson is a mathematician and computing pioneer who has seen a lot in her 102 years. Born in Boston in 1918, she was interested in math from an early age and earned a mathematics degree at Boston Teachers College, now part of the University of Massachusetts. Soon thereafter, Anderson was asked to join the MIT Radiation Laboratory, which made key contributions to the development of microwave radar technology during the second world war. “There are quite a few books written about women programmers in World War II to help in the war, and I was one of them,” Anderson stated in a 2019 interview. At MIT, Anderson worked on computer programs that assisted scientists and engineers working on new radar technology. Her colleagues at the Rad Lab included Betty Campbell and Barbara Levine, both of whom would continue on in computer science...

Fostering ethical thinking in computing | MIT News

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Traditional computer scientists and engineers are trained to develop solutions for specific needs, but aren’t always trained to consider their broader implications. Each new technology generation, and particularly the rise of artificial intelligence, leads to new kinds of systems, new ways of creating tools, and new forms of data, for which norms, rules, and laws frequently have yet to catch up. The kinds of impact that such innovations have in the world has often not been apparent until many years later. As part of the efforts in Social and Ethical Responsibilities of Computing (SERC) within the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, a new case studies series examines social, ethical, and policy challenges of present-day efforts in computing with the aim of facilitating the development of responsible “habits of mind and action”...