Google Says that it has Achieved Quantum Supremacy
According to the Financial Times, NASA recently published a Google paper on their website and later pulled it. “To our knowledge,” Google’s paper read, “this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor.” The research paper was titled “Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor.”
Google’s quantum computer was reportedly able to solve a calculation in 3 minutes and 20 seconds that would take the world’s fastest traditional supercomputer around 10,000 years.
To understand Quantum computing you need to understand the importance and potential of qubits ("quantum bits"). They are the basic units of information used by quantum computers. Unlike regular computer bits, which store data as either 1s or 0s, qubits take advantage of whats known as superposition. This means they exist as 1s and 0s simultaneously. Because superposition it exponentially increases the amount of information you can process. A pair of qubits that can exist as either 1s or 0s can embody four possible states. Three qubits can embody eight. But three hundred qubits can embody more states than there are atoms in the Universe.
Although we are still years away, once developed, the quantum computers are expected to have huge implications for areas as diverse as cryptography, chemistry, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. Google expects the power of quantum computers to expand at a “double exponential rate,” whereas traditional computers have long been pegged to Moore’s Law, which saw power double every 18 months or so.
IBM’s head of research Dario Gil said that Google’s claim to have achieved quantum supremacy is “just plain wrong.” Gil said that Google’s system is a specialized piece of hardware designed to solve a single problem, and falls short of being a general-purpose computer, unlike IBM’s own work.
Others were more optimistic about the development. “Google’s recent update on the achievement of quantum supremacy is a notable mile marker as we continue to advance the potential of quantum computing,” the director of quantum hardware at Intel, Jim Clake, said. “We along with the industry are working to quickly advance all of those areas to realize the true potential of quantum computing. And while development is still at mile one of this marathon, we strongly believe in the potential of this technology.“
The University of Southern California’s Daniel Lidar also praised the way Google’s system reduced the problem of “crosstalk,” which is where a quantum computer’s qubits interfere with one another. “[Google has] demonstrated a path to scalable quantum computing,” he told the FT, “Once you have a fully error-corrected quantum computer, the sky’s the limit.”