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Tokyo Outlines Timetable for Flying Cars and Bases on Mars

Tokyo Outlines Timetable for Flying Cars and Bases on Mars
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Quantum computing will reach the practical stage by 2035, and human outposts will be established on the moon and Mars by 2040, an institute under Japan's science ministry forecasts. The National Institute of Science and Technology Policy's report released Friday projected those dates among estimated timelines for progress on roughly 702 technologies, based on a survey of 5,352 experts.
 
The Science and Technology Foresight 2019 survey looked at Japan's competitive edge in global tech. The findings will help Tokyo devise technology policy. The S&T Foresight survey offers predictions in earthly fields such as robotics and artificial intelligence, medicine and natural disasters - plus outer space and the origins of life.
 
Western countries and China are making advances in the competitive research field of quantum computing, hailed as the next major leap in computational technology after AI. Japan intends to forge a strategy for quantum technology development within the year, as well as a timetable for concrete steps in the field over the next decade. Last month, Google claimed a breakthrough in ''quantum supremacy,'' using a quantum computer to solve in minutes a problem that the U.S. web giant said regular computers would take thousands of years to solve.
 
Google's computer used 53 ''qubits,'' or quantum bits - the basic unit of information in quantum computing, analogous to a regular bit in classical computing. The S&T Foresight report projects that quantum computers with hundreds of qubits will enter use in some areas by around 2035.
 
The report also laid out targets for robotics and AI that would transform everyday life and work. Robots will be able to perform surgical procedures by 2032, it said, reducing reliance on human skill. A year later, flying cars will ferry people around urban areas. And by 2034, the report said, devices will enable communication with people who cannot speak, as well as with animals.
 
Some predictions in past editions of the report fell far off the mark. But in 2009, an inspection found that about 70% of the ideas previously covered did become a reality. Though even experts have difficulty estimating time frames, it appears they tend to gauge correctly whether a piece of technology eventually will be viable.
 

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