Google Outage Leaves Internet Users Stumped

 Did your Google services stop working, and refused to work even after you cleaned up you cache, rebooted your PC, checked your wiring, and even called your Internet Service Provider to find out if everything was alright with them? Well, it wasn’t you – this one time, it really was Google.

On Monday, the 14th of December,2020, most of Google’s services – including Google Classroom, Google Docs, Gmail, YouTube, and even Google assistant had rendered unresponsive to users, sending them a ‘503’ or a ‘502’ error instead. Both these numbers related to server failures – while 502 is a bad gateway error that indicated discrepancies between the origin and edge servers, 503 means that the server was unable to handle the request. Such messages were displayed on both of Google’s personal and business versions of its services. 

The sudden “disappearance” of Google’s services, which is said to power of 97% of internet users daily activities caused mass panic among people. Popular social media platforms, especially Twitter ran amok with frantic users discussing on why they couldn’t access even the most basic of Google services. Many of these users also reported problems with other services that relied on Google. This included smart gadgets such as Nest Hub, and third-party apps such as Pokemon Go.

Notably, despite the outage, Google core search engine continued to run without a glitch, as did the third-party advertisements. Furthermore, many users reported to having their Google services work if they used them on a desktop browser in incognito mode. If anything, this only added to the confusion.
It didn’t take long for Google to jump into the action, though. The tech giant did not hesitate to acknowledge the issues with its services, and within an hour of this had all of its issues resolved. Once the services were back to normal, Google added special notices on each of its services that had stopped working – in order to assure users that everything was indeed back to normal.

According to Google Cloud Services, the outage happened because of an error in their identity management process. Apparently, a glitch in their automated quota management system had considerably reduced Google servers’ ability to verify users’ identities, thus causing them to display the 503 error. The problem indeed intensified to a state where all of Google’s services had gone down.

Effects of the outage were felt worldwide. Top software status monitoring platform DownDetector showed that the issue hit users in most (if not all) countries in the world. Reports were seen everywhere – including (but not limited to) Australia, Japan, India, United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, Argentina, and of course, the United States, which was by far the worst hit of them all.

Your Guide to 5G

Among the various hot topics that currently rule news lines across the world the soon-to-be-commonplace 5G technology. A big leap from its predecessor – 4G – 5G, which is at least 20 times faster than the former, is already running pilot tests in major places all over the world and will be the norm in most countries by as soon as early 2020. The technology has a lot of press surrounding it – from being able to process at never before speeds and revolutionize the way we look at data processing to connecting the remotest of areas to the internet to possible health and environment concerns.

While we are yet to know how exactly the future of 5G will unfold, when it will reach different countries in the world, how it will change the way we work, and if there really are any considerable health concerns, it is imperative to know what 5G is and how it works.

What is 5G?

Short for ‘5th Generation,’ 5G is indeed the 5th generation of mobile internet connectivity that promises a more stable connection, faster processing speed, faster download and upload speeds and a level of connectivity that is much wider and broader than the current 4G. With 5G, you can bid adieu to buffering to the highest quality of videos and disruptions when you are sharing your videos – even in the most crowded of areas. And that, of course, is just the beginning. Carrying on from the analog cellular 1G, the TDMA, GSM and CDMA enabled 2G, the UMTS and HSPA 3G and of course the currently running LTE and WiMAX 4G, 5G will take internet speeds to hundreds of megabits, and not surprisingly even gigabits!

How will 5G affect service providers?

Almost all major communication service providers are currently running their 5G pilot programs, or at the very least have obtained their 5G licenses and are making their plans to take the best advantage this technology can offer. 5G will change the data landscape in a way that is similar to how 4G prioritized data plans and packages over phone call and SMS ones. With a much higher rate of efficiency, 5G will enable wireless devices to work at higher speeds, which will, in time, allow them to roll out new services and capabilities that were previously not possible. Of course, we are yet to see exactly what they may be and how they will affect each one of us individually.

Besides wireless technology, service providers using 5G-enabled fixed wireless access will also be providing a much better, never-seen before level of speed and connectivity, making businesses much more efficient and effective at their jobs and at budgeting.

How will 5G affect the world in general?

Whereas technology is concerned, the world is at a stage that was never before thought possible – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), and IoT (Internet of Things) are no longer fantasies and theories but the present reality we all live in. Given the speed at which this technology is expanding, we sure enough will need infrastructure that is capable of sustaining them. That’s where 5G comes into the picture. With its exponentially higher capabilities, 5G will not only allow us to take advantage of the current technology, but it will also pave the way to make room for tech that is even more efficient and unlock opportunities that we never thought was possible before.

5G is bound to touch and revolutionize every industry it touches – be it media and entertainment, finance, banking, security or healthcare.

Will 4G be gone for good?

The interesting thing about 5G is that while the other Gs, upon their introduction essentially retired their older counterparts (think 2G memes in 2014), 4G will remain here to stay, even with the proliferation of 5G. First of all because 5G will initially only be used to boost the current Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks as most current devices are in fact not capable of supporting 5G in its proper form. With time, and spread of full compatible hardware, 5G will stand on its own as a service.

And yet, at the same time, advancement in 4G technology will continue to take place – and 4G itself is expected to reach up to speeds of 2 Gigabits per second – which is in fact what the Qualcomm X24 modem, built into most 2019-manufactured 4G smartphones, is capable of.

Have we quietly stepped into a new age of quantum computing technology?

According to reports, Google’s AI Quantum Group has achieved something that many thought could only be science fiction  -accomplishing “quantum supremacy”. Being able to reach levels of speed and accuracy that other machines, and their makers, could never fathom. If this has truly been achieved like it is being claimed, it is indeed a technological milestone and would change the way the world in ways that we cannot yet fully imagine.

It all started when a NASA lab/Google Partner accidentally posted an online report that Google physicists had managed what is unattainable using the world’s current supercomputers. Even though it seemed the milestone of quantum supremacy had been accomplished the create was still not a full-fledged quantum computer.

While both the tweet and the paper were subsequently taken down, screenshots and copies are, of course, still available and moving in various channels of the internet. Unsurprisingly, neither party has responded to any and all questions regarding the claims, sending the whole world into a frenzy of questions and theories and begging the fundamental question whether quantum computing really has been achieved.

While that is still – and will seemingly remain up in the air for some time, let’s know what quantum computing technology really is and why it is the biggest thing ever to happen in the world of science and technology.

What is Quantum Computing?

Essentially, quantum computing is a level of speed and efficiency of computing that even the best and fastest computer right now cannot work at. A breakthrough like none other, computers using this technology will be able to solve the most complex of problems (that could take years or even decades) and solve them in a much shorter span of time.

The general belief among the scientific community is that at least 49 qubits are necessary to enter into the realm of quantum supremacy. The notable factor, here, is that qubits function in a way that is very diverse from the “classical” computer’s bits. In case of bits, they exist either as a “1” or a “0.” Computers, therefore, read and work on a single bit during a particular period of time. Qubits, on the other hand, can show combination of “1” and “0” because of peculiar quantum effects where properties such as momentum, particle position, and direction, aren’t solidly defined. A system based on this principle, can therefore solve in multiple states at the same moment – a phenomenon known as quantum indeterminacy.

In simpler terms, quantum computers can read and process “1s” and a “0s” during the same span of time, allowing for faster and better processing of information and allowing the system to act on processed information in real time. This, of course, will speed up the computing process exponentially and allow for speeds much faster than that of the current “classical computers.”

What is Google’s Contribution?

Truth be told, we can never say what is what until we get an official confirmation from the tech giant itself. What we do know, however, is that Google has been the leader when it comes to computing hardware and proved it’s leadership again recently when it unveiled its 73-Qubit processor that put competitor IBM’s 53-Qubit in second place.

That being said, the leaked NASA paper reveals that Google actually used a different – and a 53-Qubit (albeit originally a 54-Qubit) processor called Sycamore to make its demonstrations. The first step of the demo involved a classical computer being used as a ‘simulator’ to generate quantum instructions known as ‘quantum gates,’ the quantum counterparts of the logic gates utilized in classical computers. These were then sent to the quantum computer that would perform exclusively on qubits in pure zero states, and finally made to output samples from the probability distribution obtained from performing on the qubits. This was later cross-checked by running the same operation through the classical computer’s format in order to compare and contrast results. Quite expectedly, Sycamore did take a considerably less amount of time and did not cross the error threshold.

The question that arose here was that if a classical computer could in fact do the same operation, could scientists not tweak them instead of moving to a whole new principle altogether? Not according to Google’s scientist, who clearly published in their research paper that it would take the world’s most advanced computer at least 10,000 years for a computer working on the classic principle to achieve what a quantum computer would do in 200 Seconds – clearly an unmatched competition.

Now, when Google did manage to bring a success case from its 53-Qubit, it would only be a matter of time till it would achieve a similar level of success with its 73-Qubit as well. But the question is – has that already been done? Until Google does come out with it in the open, we can only call it a likely possibility. Right now, it is of course undeniable that Google is indeed leading the pack with its findings, and that its experiment with the Sycamore has made a breakthrough when it comes to computing.

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