Quantum Algorithms
Friday, January 21, 2005
Eye Opening Quote
Chakra Yadavalli dug up a very interesting quote. Check out the original post, but I'm going to steal it because it's too good not to, and also so I can make a cheap point:
Question by Dr. Manickam, Pune University: There is an effort in Europe for secure Networking based on Quantum Computing. Why not such projects be initiated in India?

Answer By [Name Withheld (For Now)]: A Quantum computer is a device that harnesses physical phenomenon unique to quantum mechanics (especially quantum interference) to realize a fundamentally new mode of information processing. Encryption, however, is only one application of a quantum computer. In addition, a researcher has put together a toolbox of mathematical operations that can only be performed on a quantum computer, many of which he used in his factorization algorithm. Currently the power and capability of a quantum computer is primarily theoretical speculation; the advent of the first fully functional quantum computer will undoubtedly bring many new and exciting applications. Quantum computing is one of the areas, where India can contribute substantially. We are now working on a nano-technology mission which can make realizable quantum computers. The Conference can debate and make suggestions on how we can bring in synergy in this crucial area.

So guess who said this: Is it the head of a physics department at a top university in India? Maybe a government minister of science and technology?

How about: Abdul Kalam, the President of India.

As Chakra Yadavallia alluded to, imagine your favorite North American (or Australian) leader answering the same question, and think about how they'd respond.

Paltry competition aside, Kalam deserves recognition in his own right for being inquisitive enough to know this much. After looking at his background, his quote is not surprising at all...Kalam was a highly successful aerospace engineer before getting mixed up in politics. According to Wikipedia, the Presidency of India is a largely symbolic role, and the Prime Minister is the true seat of power. But no matter, with such a good scientist in a prominent role, it's no wonder India is ascending as a science and technology powerhouse.

As a nation that places such a high value on democracy, education, intellectuals, and fluency in English, India deserves all the white collar outsourcing they can get. This also solidifies my thinking that Americans have no right to complain about losing high tech jobs until they (well, okay, I admit: we) can elect a leader who understands technology. I'm not talking about enacting protectionism, but I mean investing in science and technology to secure a role in the future. Shrinking science budgets won't get the job done.
I've been meaning to read "Anti-Intellectualism in American Life" by Richard Hofstadter. The interesting thing is, the book was written in 1966. Their may be a new wave of anti-intellectualism, but it's certainly not totally new.
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