Google has announced it has achieved quantum supremacy with its quantum computer, which is another way of saying it’s quantum computer has performed a calculation that not even the world’s fastest supercomputer can achieve. It has been the holy grail of computing for Google, IBM, and Intel for a number of years, and now we have our market leader. In a nutshell: quantum computing is now the fastest form of computing in the world.
The huge technological advancement from Google was published in a paper on NASA’s official website, although the paper has subsequently been pulled. Perhaps it was getting too much attention from the little green men.
Google’s paper published on the NASA website reads as follows:
“Here, we report using a processor with programmable superconducting qubits to create quantum states on 53 qubits, occupying a state space 253 ˘1016. Measurements from repeated experiments sample the corresponding probability distribution, which we verify using classical simulations. While our processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of the quantum circuit 1 million times, a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task.”
There are a few theories as to why the paper has been pulled, although the prevailing one is that this impressive achievement could be very worrying for traditional encryption methods. The quantum computer performed a calculation in 200 seconds which would take a supercomputer 10,000 years. Evidently such a machine could year through modern encryption without breaking so much as a sweat. “To our knowledge,” Google’s paper read, “this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor.”
“The problem their machine solves with astounding speed has been very carefully chosen just for the purpose of demonstrating the quantum computer’s superiority,” says John Preskill, a Caltech professor.
At the moment, we’re still a fair way away from such a computer being able to handle more practical tasks, and a long, long way from such devices being widely available. Quantum computers could, eventually, have a stupendously big impact on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cryptography. Just to top it all off, Google is absolutely scoffing at Moore’s Law, claiming its quantum computers will advance at a double exponential rate. This would usher in a new era of computing dominance.