IBM predicts embedding tiny chips in products to check counterfeit

Fraud costs the global economy more than USD 600 billion a year and in some countries, nearly 70 per cent of certain life-saving drugs are counterfeit.

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Las Vegas: Tech Giant IBM on Tuesday predicted that within the next five years, cryptographic anchors such as ink dots, or tiny computers smaller than a grain of salt, will be embedded in objects and devices to tackle issues such as counterfeit and food safety among others. Cryptographic anchors will be used in tandem with blockchain’s distributed ledger technology to ensure an object’s authenticity from its point of origin to when it reaches the hands of the customer, IBM said in a statement.

“These technologies pave the way for new solutions that tackle food safety, authenticity of manufactured components, genetically modified products, identification of counterfeit objects and provenance of luxury goods, it added.

Fraud costs the global economy more than USD 600 billion a year and in some countries, nearly 70 per cent of certain life-saving drugs are counterfeit.

“Complex supply chains — comprised of dozens of suppliers in multiple countries — make it difficult to prevent bad actors from tampering with everything from paper currency to consumer electronics.

“Blockchain technology is poised as the future of digital transactions, infusing trust, efficiency and transparency into supply chains. But blockchains alone cannot ensure the authenticity of physical goods, the tech giant said.

IBM unveiled five technologies crypto-anchors and blockchain, lattice cryptographic anchors , AI bias , AI-powered robot microscopes and quantum computing — that would fundamentally reshape business and society in the next five years.

Arvind Krishna, Head of IBM Research, said the company believes these technologies are being developed aiming at solving societal problems.

Krishna made this announcement as part of IBM Research’s annual 5 in 5 technology predictions at Think 2018 , the company’s flagship conference being held here.

In five years, small, autonomous AI microscopes, networked in the cloud and deployed around the world, will continually monitor in real time the health of one of Earth’s most important and threatened resources — water, it said.

The IBM scientists are working on an approach that uses plankton, which are natural, biological sensors of aquatic health. The technology would be helpful in situations like oil spills and runoff from land-based pollution sources, and to predict threats such as red tides, IBM said.

The IBM researchers have already developed a post-quantum encryption method, which is submitted to the US government called lattice cryptography.

No computer can crack it, not even future quantum computers. With lattice cryptography, we can work on a file or encrypt it, without ever exposing sensitive data to hackers , it added.

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