Lightning-Fast AI Chips, Robo-Manta Rays, and the Cost of Cyber Devastation—The Download, April 6, 2017
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Calculating the Cost of Digital Devastation
When a crippling cyber attack hits, who’s going to cover the cost of the damage? Insurers have been known to wildly miscalculate how much cash will be required in the wake of natural disasters, despite the fact that mankind has been living with them for centuries. Cyber attacks, however, are a relatively new threat, but are growing in scale and prevalence—so it's no longer a question of asking if a devastating attack will occur, but rather when. Our own Mike Orcutt investigates how insurers are scrambling to put a price on cyberattack fallout.
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The Economics of Refurbishing Rockets
Recycling spacecraft is savvy—if you can bankroll the R&D. With SpaceX now able to reuse boosters, it’s the hot topic at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs. Tory Bruno, CEO of United Launch Alliance—which isn’t reusing rockets—claims the "jury's still out" on the technology, but SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell says that refurbishment of a booster costs "substantially less than half" as much as using a new one. But the trick requires investment, and Jeff Bezos has revealed how he funds his reusable rocket firm, Blue Origin: by selling $1 billion of Amazon stock every year.
An AI Chip That Stands in for Whole New Data Centers
To handle its burgeoning AI offerings, Google had to design a whole new kind of chip. Now, it’s revealed details of the hardware, called the Tensor Processing Unit, and its performance is impressive. The chip is designed specifically to run pre-trained neural networks, of the kind that translate speech and identify features in images, and they do so 15 to 30 times faster than regular GPUs and CPUs. The effort to build the hardware was clearly worth it: according to Wired, the chip means that Google could avoid building entire new data centers.
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