Taming big-data energy demands

How do we deal with the growing amount of energy that big data consumes? According to Dr Patricia Lago, the head of Software and Services at the VU, the growing data sector now uses about 10% of the world’s electricity, and that amount is growing quickly. Yet many companies haven’t considered how they will deal with their future data demands, which partly explains why today’s data centres use only 20-80% of their storage capacity. Dr Lago and her team at the VU’s Green Lab work on ways of reducing the amount of energy that data storage systems use, developing smart software that can accurately predict how much capacity will be needed. This is especially urgent in Amsterdam, which is now home to a third of all European data centres. Collaborating with industry players is critical to continued success in the field. 

Granting greater vision to AI

A new computer-vision lab in the Amsterdam Science Park is reaping the fruits of a collaboration between Amsterdam’s university and industry sectors. The QUVA lab is a joint research laboratory recently opened by American tech giant Qualcomm and the UvA. The new lab, dedicated to machine-learning techniques, is an extension of ongoing academic research in the field. Professor Arnold Smeulders, who studies and teaches computer vision at the UvA, is excited to see the ways in which this once-obscure topic is increasingly relevant to industry and daily life. Amsterdam has a proud history in this area, and the researchers at the QUVA lab are now combining research from various fields to advance our understanding of ‘deep vision’ technologies. The hope is to achieve new breakthroughs in, for example, facial recognition, motion sensing and the analysis of security footage.

Building quantum security

QuSoft is the Netherlands’ first research centre devoted to quantum software. It focuses on developing software that can take advantage of the massive power offered by tomorrow’s quantum computers. The lab – a joint initiative of the VU, the UvA and the Center for Mathematics and Computer Science (CWI) – was opened in the Amsterdam Science Park in late 2015. It is the brainchild of Harry Buhrman, a professor of computer science at the UvA. He likens the current situation with quantum computing to the 1960s, when there was all manner of new computer hardware but a lack of clear uses for it. QuSoft, which will focus on fields such as encryption, builds on the excellent reputation of the Amsterdam institutions involved, strengthening the Netherlands’ position as a world-class centre of quantum computing.


First published in AMS business magazine. Author: Douglas Heingartner