How Prince Rebelled Against the Music Industry

Millions of fans will remember Prince as a master of funk, the creator of indelible hits like “1999” and “When Doves Cry.”
But within the music business, Prince — who died on Thursday at 57 — was also a trailblazing and sometimes controversial champion for his rights as an artist. In the 1990s he was in open conflict with the music industry, protesting the major-label system by writing the word “slave” on his cheek and changing his name to an unpronounceable glyph.
Later, as the music world moved online, Prince made sometimes mystifying pronouncements about the Internet, and policed his music rights so carefully that most of his songs were unavailable not only on jukebox streaming services like Spotify but also on Pandora and YouTube.
His moves were sometimes mocked as mere eccentricity. But he is now seen as an early advocate of the kind of experimentation and artistic control that has become an essential tool of the most forward-thinking pop stars.

“If you want to see his influence, all you have to do is look at what’s happening today, where you have Kanye West releasing an album on different platforms and adding to it as he goes along, or Drake saying, ‘You know what, I’ve got a new record and I’m just going to drop it,’” said Jimmy Jam, the producer who was a longtime associate of Prince, and a former chairman of the Recording Academy, the organization that presents the Grammy Awards.

Source: New York Times

Prince est mort

Prince est mort, j’ai tous ses albums et un album peu connu du grand public en très peu d’exemplaire. Un immense artiste nous a quitté. C’était un excellent danseur.  Au revoir Prince tu vas nous manquer.

First Woman Nominated to Lead U.S. Combatant Command   

WASHINGTON — The White House will nominate Gen. Lori J. Robinson of the Air Force to lead all military forces in North America, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Friday. If confirmed by the Senate, General Robinson will become the first woman to head one of the United States combatant commands.
”We have coming along now a lot of female officers who are exceptionally strong,” Mr. Carter said in an interview with Politico. “Lori certainly fits into that category.”

The Defense Department has six combatant commanders who oversee military operations in different regions of the world. General Robinson would lead the United States Northern Command, which is based in Colorado Springs and was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to coordinate the military’s response to homeland security. The highest-profile command in recent years has been the United States Central Command, which oversees military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East.

Mr. Carter made the announcement as the Pentagon moves forward with a series of measures designed to create greater gender equality in the military and make the services more appealing to women.

In December, Mr. Carter announced that the Pentagon would open all combat roles to women. Then in January, he announced that he was expanding maternity leave and said the Pentagon would begin a pilot program that would pay for women to have their eggs frozen to encourage them to stay in the military during their 20s and 30s, a time when many leave after giving birth.

According to figures compiled by the Pentagon, a little more than 6 percent of generals and admirals are women; 17 percent of officers are women; and 15 percent of enlisted service members are women. Out of 38 four star generals and admirals there are three women, including General Robinson, according to the Pentagon.

Since 2014, General Robinson has been based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, where she has been the commander over Air Force operations in the Pacific.

Source:New York Times

Posté dans USA

Obama’s Budget Seeks to Ease Economic Fears for U.S. Workers

WASHINGTON — At the center of the final budget of President Obama’s term is a concession that the major macroeconomic trends of the past two generations — particularly the loss of benefits that once went with formal employment relationships — are largely irreversible.
In laying out proposals from improving access to 401(k) plans to supplementing the incomes of workers who accept lower wages after losing jobs, the president laid out a clear, if limited, view of government’s role in the labor market. Inside the budget is a detailed agenda to ease the anxieties of workers weighed down by job insecurity and income volatility.

Those anxieties are among the factors that propelled two populist candidates to victory in the New Hampshire presidential primaries on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama’s approach has clear advantages at a moment when Republicans control both chambers of Congress, and when the business community has made clear its opposition to a greater government role in the economy.

But it falls well short of the crusading vision of government intervention ascendant in the Democratic Party through the campaign of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who won the party’s New Hampshire primary. He has proposed an increase in Social Security benefits and support for more than 13 million jobs by spending $1 trillion on infrastructure over five years.

The proposed expansion of Social Security alone would cost more than $100 billion over 10 years, then rise substantially after that.

“These are policies that broadly accept the extent to which risks have shifted onto working people and they try to mitigate the impact of those risks,” Jared Bernstein, a former top economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., said about the president’s proposals. “They have not viewed it as their job to try to change the underlying shifts in risks.”

With the left invigorated by the campaign to succeed Mr. Obama, such assurances may fall flat with wide swaths of Democrats.

“The president has some good messaging proposals that would have a positive impact,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grass-roots organizing group that supports Mr. Sanders. “But a new Democratic president winning on something like a trillion-dollar infrastructure proposal would reset the debate.”

Perhaps no set of budgetary ideas better illustrates the president’s limited approach than those relating to worker pensions, which would cost about $18 billion over the next decade. The president is proposing a variety of changes, including making it easier for small-business employees to buy into pooled 401(k) plans, which typically have lower costs than plans offered only to employees of a single small business.

Mr. Obama also wants to encourage more employers to automatically enroll workers in 401(k) programs and allow them to opt out, which yields greater participation and retirement savings than simply offering plans to those who sign up.

But the proposals are a far cry from resurrecting the so-called defined benefit model that reigned during the decades after World War II, said Teresa Ghilarducci, who studies pension systems at the New School for Social Research. She has proposed a system of portable individual accounts in which contributions are pooled, workers are guaranteed a minimum 2 percent rate of return, and the benefits are doled out annually after retirement so that workers do not prematurely run down their savings.

Likewise, the wage insurance proposal would provide many former manufacturing workers who settle for lower-paying service jobs with a wage supplement equivalent to half the difference between their current and previous annual pay. That supplement would total up to $10,000 per worker over two years.

The proposal is embedded in a broader overhaul of the unemployment insurance system, which would ensure that all states offer at least 26 weeks of benefits (nine currently do not), extend benefits to part-time workers and others left out of the current system, and automatically provide up to a year’s worth of additional benefits in states where the unemployment rate exceeds a series of thresholds.

Still, for manufacturing workers, those efforts will seem vastly inferior to rebuilding the domestic manufacturing base, something the budget only feints at through small investments in manufacturing research and development and subsidies to help small manufacturers scale up operations. (The budget does propose a major investment in clean-transportation research.)

“To me it’s kind of a salve, an ointment for the consequences of trade policy and globalization,” said Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group jointly financed by industry and labor.

But, he said, bringing back high-paying manufacturing would require large investments and tax benefits to encourage businesses to bring overseas jobs back, something the budget finances only modestly, and the kind of aggressive trade enforcement for which the administration has shown little appetite. (It says it would create disincentives for offshoring by changing how it taxes foreign profits.)

To be sure, the White House is not averse to federal job creation. The budget proposes $300 billion in infrastructure spending over the next 10 years. A study by researchers at Duke University suggests that this level could directly and indirectly generate a few hundred thousand jobs, although only about 10 percent of those would be in manufacturing.

The moderation of many of the president’s budget proposals for workers and the economy reflect the White House belief that, even at this late date in the administration, it may be able to strike a handful of deals with Republican leaders in Congress.

Wage support, in principle, could win Republican support, said Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the former domestic policy director for Mitt Romney.

“The idea of targeting financial support to people who, especially later in their careers, are choosing between going back to a lower-wage job, or potentially ending up on disability or something else — it’s a win-win to have them in the work force,” he said.

That does not entirely explain the moderation. In the same budget, the president embraced a $10-per-barrel tax on oil. That effort makes sense only as a way of shifting the debate on climate policy and infrastructure, given its dead-on-arrival prospects.

But Mr. Obama may have accommodated his policies to the tectonic shifts in the economy in recent decades because he genuinely believes it can be futile to resist.

As Seth D. Harris, a former deputy secretary of labor under Mr. Obama, put it: “These proposals make sense considering the trajectory of the president’s agenda from 2008 until today. For him to all of a sudden become Bernie Sanders would be inconsistent with the larger narrative of his presidency.”


Artificial-Intelligence Research Center Is Founded by Silicon Valley Investors

 group of prominent Silicon Valley investors and technology companies said on Friday that they would establish an artificial-intelligence research center to develop “digital intelligence” that will benefit humanity.
The investors — including Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and Reid Hoffman — said they planned to commit $1 billion to the project long term, but would initially spend only a small fraction of that amount in the first few years of the project. But, Mr. Musk said, “Everyone who is listed as a contributor has made a substantial commitment and this should be viewed as at least a billion-dollar project.”

The organization, to be named OpenAI, will be established as a nonprofit, and will be based in San Francisco.

Its long-range goal will be to create an “artificial general intelligence,” a machine capable of performing any intellectual task that a human being can, according to Mr. Musk. He also stressed that the focus was on building technologies that augment rather than replace humans.

Mr. Musk, who is deploying A.I.-based technologies in some of his products like the Tesla automobile, said that he has had longstanding concerns about the possibility that artificial intelligence could be used to create machines that might turn on humanity.

He began discussing the issue this year with Mr. Hoffman, Mr. Thiel and Sam Altman, president of the Y Combinator investment group.

“We discussed what is the best thing we can do to ensure the future is good?” he said. “We could sit on the sidelines or we can encourage regulatory oversight, or we could participate with the right structure with people who care deeply about developing A.I. in a way that is safe and is beneficial to humanity.”

“Artificial intelligence is one of the great opportunities for improving the world today,” Mr. Hoffman said in an email. “The specific applications range from self-driving cars, to medical diagnosis and precision personalized medicine, to many other areas of data, analysis, decisioning across industries.”

Other backers of the project include Jessica Livingston of Y Combinator; Greg Brockman, the former chief technology officer of Stripe, as well as Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s Cloud Services subsidiary; and Infosys, an Indian software consulting and consulting firm. The research effort has also attracted a group of young artificial intelligence researchers.

The founders said they were not yet ready to provide details on who had donated how much and the rate at which the project money would be spent. They will fund the development of the project on a year-by-year basis. They also said they were not yet ready to describe how quickly the project would grow in terms of funding or staffing.

The announcement occurs in the same week that one of the main academic gatherings focusing on artificial intelligence, the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, is being held in Montreal.

In recent years the event has grown as major technology corporations like Apple, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft have started competing to hire the most talented researchers in the field. Salaries and hiring incentives have soared.

The research director of OpenAI will be Ilya Sutskever, a Google expert on machine learning. Mr. Brockman will be the chief technology officer. The group will begin with seven researchers, including graduate researchers who have been standouts at universities like Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and New York University.

“The people on the team have all been offered substantially more to work at other places,” Mr. Musk said.

Mr. Altman added, “It is lucky for us the best people in any field generally care about what is best for the world.”

In October 2014, Mr. Musk stirred controversy when, in an interview at M.I.T., he described artificial intelligence as our “biggest existential threat.” He also said, “With artificial intelligence we’re summoning the demon.”

In October, he donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, a Cambridge, Mass., organization focused on developing positive ways for humanity to respond to challenges posed by advanced technologies.

He said the new organization would be separate from the Future of Life Institute, and that while the new organization did have a broad research plan, it was not yet ready to offer a specific road map.

Source: New York Times

The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952-1961

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., someone who unquestionably understood charisma, considered Vice President Richard Nixon “one of the most magnetic personalities” he had ever encountered. “When you are close to Nixon,” King observed in 1958, “he almost disarms you with his apparent sincerity.” But King also worried that there might be a hidden duality to Nixon, or worse, a facade. If the vice president was actually insincere, King warned, he could be “the most dangerous man in America.”Nixon’s vice-presidential years are arguably the least well known of his long political career. It has been over 20 years since Stephen Ambrose wrote the first and until now only major book to focus on Nixon’s vice presidency. Much has since been released about the Eisenhower administration, and Ambrose’s own research methods have been called into question. But the reason Nixon’s activities between 1952 and 1961 are comparatively little understood also relates to a problem inherent in studying vice presidencies. Big decisions emanate from the White House, not the vice president’s office (though Dick Cheney may have broken the mold). Furthermore, the most influential vice presidents know to keep their advice confidential.

With the publication of “The President and the Apprentice,” Irwin F. Gellman hopes to fill that void. He is a prodigious researcher, who made his name with fine books on Franklin Roosevelt’s Cuba policy and on Sumner Welles. “The Contender,” his first book on Richard Nixon, covered the congressional years, and made the case that other historians had missed the Nixon behind the redbaiting.

In this long-awaited second volume, Gellman continues trying to set the record straight. He sees far less animosity in the peculiar political marriage between Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower than did Jeffrey Frank in his elegant and indispensable “Ike and Dick.” Gellman agrees with most historians that Eisenhower was prepared to drop Nixon from the ticket in 1952 over allegations about a secret fund set up by Southern Californian businessmen. Gellman, who has found the notes Eisenhower made while watching Nixon give the so-called Checkers speech, concludes that the general gained new respect for his running mate. Persuaded that Nixon was being honest, and impressed by his savvy and political courage, Eisenhower started to groom him for the presidency.

Although Nixon is clearly the “apprentice” of the title, what Gellman describes is more like a symbiotic relationship. Young enough to be Eisenhower’s son, Nixon traveled around the world for the president, serving as his eyes and ears. Presidential cynicism played a role in these assignments. Eisenhower exploited Nixon’s unassailable anti-Communist credentials to defend his policies abroad. At home, Eisenhower used Nixon to rally the Republicans’ restive right-wing base, occasionally wincing when Nixon verged on charging Democrats with treason but never ordering him to curtail his Reds! Reds! Reds! roadshows.

In a fascinating chapter on Nixon’s health, Gellman breaks new ground in understanding the man. Nixon’s trusted doctor Arnold Hutschnecker turns out to have been a Dr. Feelgood. Starting in 1952, Nixon sought help from Hutschnecker for a series of stress-induced ailments, and the doctor prescribed a medicine-­cabinetful of barbiturates and sleep aids (Seconal and Doriden), tranquilizers (Equanil) and “uppers” (Dexamyl), a potentially addictive, mood-altering cocktail that Nixon apparently took throughout the 1950s and possibly thereafter. We can now reconcile assertions by Nixon’s defenders that he drank little with evidence of strange late-night calls, slurred words and incoherence. As Gellman writes, “At the height of the Cold War, both the president and the vice president could easily have been simultaneously incapacitated, leaving no one responsible for governing.”

Like many Nixon scholars, Gellman believes that there were two Nixons. His private Nixon was a thoughtful pragmatist. The demagogy was political theater. “Nixon,” Gellman writes, “the inflexible ­anti-Communist in public, was far more flexible in private.” Unfortunately, instead of reflecting on the consequences of Nixon’s cynical use of anti-Communist rhetoric for the country, Gellman focuses on the cost to Nixon’s reputation. Had historians and the news media been allowed to sit in on Eisenhower’s national security meetings, he argues, they would have seen the real, nonideological Nixon. Nixon’s crowning foreign policy achievement, the opening to China a decade later, would not then have so shocked Nixon watchers. “The roots of Nixon’s thinking about East Asia,” he asserts, “go back to his vice presidency.”

Gellman’s case for Nixon’s foreign policy pragmatism this early on is not persuasive. There is nothing in the book to suggest that Nixon was inclined to think a two-China policy possible. Nixon returned from a 1953 meeting with the Nationalist Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek singing his praises, despite the fact that the delusional Chiang was lobbying for support of a 600,000-man army to invade the mainland and topple Mao. More important, Gellman tends to play down the scattered but unmistakable evidence that Eisenhower and Nixon disagreed on how cold the Cold War should be. Eisenhower, for example, wanted to expand East-West trade as a way of forcing the Soviets to be better players in the game of nations; Nixon thought this a bad idea. Nixon favored American armed intervention to help the French win their war in Indochina in 1954. Eisenhower wisely disagreed. In sum, when Eisenhower deviated from hard-line Cold War policies, at least in his first term, Nixon was uncomfortable.

It is on the explosive issue of race where pragmatism may be the best explanation for Nixon’s vice presidency. Nixon was Eisenhower’s personal representative to the civil rights community, and “The President and the Apprentice” provides a thorough accounting of his activities. Gellman rightly points out that the Eisenhower administration’s record on civil rights was as significant as the Truman administration’s. And Nixon was comfortable among ­African-Americans to an extent not shared by Eisenhower or Truman. African-­American leaders like King took notice.


Obama juge les cyber-attaques de la Chine « pas acceptables »

Le président américain Barack Obama a estimé vendredi 11 septembre que les attaques informatiques menées par la Chine n’étaient « pas acceptables » et qu’il le dirait au président chinois Xi Jinping quand il viendra à la Maison Blanche à la fin du mois.Obama a ajouté qu’il essaierait de s’entendre avec son homologue sur des règles de conduite pour empêcher toute escalade en la matière. « Je vous garantis que nous pouvons gagner si nous devons » lancer des attaques informatiques, a-t-il prévenu.

La visite d’Etat du président Xi, dont la date exacte n’a pas encore été annoncée, devrait intervenir autour du 25 septembre, quelques jours avant le début de l’Assemblée générale de l’ONU à New York.

Le récent piratage des données personnelles de plusieurs millions d’employés fédéraux américains, attribué à la Chine par plusieurs médias américains, a ravivé un dossier qui empoisonne les relations entre les deux pays.
Un responsable américain avait confirmé fin août que les Etats-Unis préparaient des sanctions économiques visant des personnes morales et physiques chinoises soupçonnées d’être liées à des attaques informatiques visant des cibles américaines.

Washington « répondra selon un programme et un calendrier que nous choisirons », avait expliqué à l’AFP le responsable américain. Il avait ajouté que l’administration était en train de se doter d’une « stratégie complète pour lutter contre des acteurs » impliqués dans le cyber-espionnage.

Lors d’une rencontre fin juin avec de hauts responsables chinois, M. Obama avait évoqué ce dossier épineux, ainsi que celui de la « militarisation » engagée selon Washington par Pékin en mer de Chine méridionale. Il avait alors appelé Pékin « à prendre des mesures concrètes pour faire baisser les tensions ».

Lolitas, Vladimir Nabokov

au sujet de Vladimir Nabokov dont j’ai écrit des billets en octobre 2014, merci beaucoup à zv222, pour le lien ci-présent  et pour son commentaire intéressant.Bonne journée à tout le monde.

source: , un extrait

his already old novel (1955!) has made its way to the pantheon of the world most celebrated literature, despite its controversial nature, and continues to draw the attention of a constant number of readers throughout the world.

The prose of Vladimir Nabokov alone is enough to fall under the spell of his witty text, but The charm of the novel is decupled by the amount of cultural references, symbolic images and let’s not forget its humour! Also, Nabokov, as he admitted, gave the promise of a riddle-game left for the benefit of the deserving reader. Lolita’s riddle.

How many new readers realize the richness of what they have between their hands? Nabokov’s sophisticated playful mind left enough dark matter for curious minds to ponder and delve into it sixty years later.

We would think that such a scrutinized book would have gave up its soul long ago, but we would be wrong. Secrets still lie within shadows hidden betwen the lines. Despite the cleverness and thickness of literary references of Alfred Appel’s « The Annotated Lolita », one can’t help thinking something’s missing. Some recurring (and sometimes almost out of place) elements in the book seem to beg for attention, and yet they’re left ignored and mute with their untold secrets.

Here’s a big part of what I have gathered (minus tens of little things of lesser importance that I found but didn’t care to add). the work of collection of the references is at his minimum too. There are even references behind references, so I’ll let that aside for such a sketchy attempt.

Nabokov as he admitted it, has hidden a riddle-game left for the benefit of the deserving reader. Lolita’s riddle.

In an interview in 1962 for the BBC when aked on why he wrote “Lolita”: “(…) I’ve no general ideas to exploit, I just like composing riddles with elegant solutions.”. Two years later, in an interview with Playboy in 1964, about the writing of « Lolita », he confessed « She was like the composition of a beautiful puzzle – its composition and its solution at the same time, since one is mirror view of the other, depending on the way you look. ».

The basic core of the riddle is now, I believe, mostly solved (at a superficial level, as there are still much to say about it. And there is also still MUCH to discover. It’s still a raw sketch in a way) and I propose to my reader to take a trip in the depth of « Lolita », a novel that you had read without knowing that there was a « phantom chapter », only deciphered by a careful scrutiny of the text, allowing to reach a second level of reading.

In order to say that we resolved Lolita’s riddle we have to find a solution that addresses efficiently all the persistent references and mysterious recurring elements (numbers and words). And of course, it must work in every instances.

In order to lead us to his intended hidden goal, Nabokov has « sprinkled » his text with hints hidden in « plain sight ». The solution of the puzzle has to be reached by collecting all the specific references left by the author. The similar nature of these references won’t leave any room for doubts and the possibility of a conjonction of coincidences will be safely discarded.

There are direct references, but there are also sometimes references behind references, and cross-references all pointing directly or indirectly to the same direction.

These hints, left by Nabokov, are basically « tags » which are either recurring dates or recurring words. These dates and words can be rattached to a specific context that we recognize as  omnipresent when we have indetified it.

Once this context is identified, the key is known.

Every time you use the key (the sesame to a subjacent level of reading) in a textual keyhole (there are moments in the text when there are salliant mentions: a strange book title, a weird lastname or any sort of incongruity – this is Nabokov nudging and winking to you), it opens and more is to be seen, confirming each time even more that the puzzle has been solved.

In fact the key can basically be reduced to one name. One person. With this name, all the rest follows.

And when we know this key, we realize that the solution of the riddle had been ostensibly agitated by Humbert (Or more exactly Vladimir Nabokov) right in front of our unsuspecting eyes.

This key « with its numbered dangler of carved wood », bearing the number 342.

I shall not exist if you do not imagine me

The beginning of the story is set on La Côte d’Azur (more precisely, probably Monaco – a principality by the sea). This latter allusion is made in reference to Egar Allan Poe’s (1809-1849) poem « Annabel Lee », and indeed, the beginning of « Lolita » is full of references to this work: for instance, Humbert’s love is named Annabel Leigh (like Poe’s Annabel Lee), there are direct alluions to the poem (« the misinformed, simple, noble-winged seraphs, envied » p.9 TAL, «  », even his use of the spelling “lo-LEE-ta” seems to be a discreet allusion to the character of the poem). In Nabokov’s mind, these Poe allusions are directly linked to the fact this famous American author was in love with Virginia Clemm, a thirteen years old girl (even the date when Humbert stops searching for Lolita, on 09/18/49 could also be a reference to Edgar Allan Poe (alternately, to Lorina Liddell – more on this later)).


mon billet en octobre 2014 était le suivant:

Supercomputers: Barack Obama orders world’s fastest computer

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order calling for the US to build the world’s fastest computer by 2025.

The supercomputer would be 20 times quicker than the current leading machine, which is in China.

It would be capable of making one quintillion (a billion billion) calculations per second – a figure which is known as one exaflop.

A body called the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI) will be set up to research and build the computer.

The US is seeking the new supercomputer, significantly faster than today’s models, to perform complex simulations, aid scientific research and national security projects.

It is hoped the machine would help to analyse weather data for more accurate forecasts or assist in cancer diagnoses by analysing X-ray images.

A blog post on the White House website also suggests it could allow NASA scientists to model turbulence, which might enable the design of more streamlined aircraft without the need for extensive wind tunnel testing.

Such a computer would be called an exascale machine.

Bigger models

Richard Kenway at the University of Edinburgh says he thinks the plan is « spot on » in terms of strategy, bringing together both the ambition to develop new hardware and also improved analysis of big data.

He explained the computer could aid the development of personalised medicines, tailored to specific individuals.

« Today, drugs are designed for the average human and they work OK for some people but not others, » he told the BBC.

« The real challenge in precision medicine is to move from designing average drugs to designing drugs for the individual because you can know their genome and their lifestyle. »

There could also be benefits in long-term climate modelling, according to Mark Parsons at the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC).

Currently, climate scientists attempt to model how the Earth’s climate will evolve in coming years, but the accuracy of these predictions is severely limited.

Today’s fastest supercomputer, the Tianhe-2 in China’s National Computer Centre, Guangzhou, performs at 33.86 petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second), almost twice as fast as the second-quickest machine, which is American.

For Parsons, the latest US initiative is a clear attempt to challenge the dominance of the Chinese in this field.

« The US has woken up to the fact that if it wants to remain in the race it will have to invest, » he told the BBC.

£60m electricity bill

Both Kenway and Parsons point out that the challenges of building an exascale computer are not trivial and would require years of research and development.

Chief among the obstacles, according to Parsons, is the need to make computer components much more power efficient. Even then, the electricity demands would be gargantuan.

« I’d say they’re targeting around 60 megawatts, I can’t imagine they’ll get below that, » he commented. « That’s at least £60m a year just on your electricity bill. »

Efforts to construct an exascale computer are not entirely new.

Recently, IBM, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) and the University of Groningen announced plans to build one to analyse data from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) radio telescope project.

SKA will be built in Australia and South Africa by the early 2020s.