The race for quantum computing is one of the great under-the-radar science stories of the century. Because it’s a known unknown to scientists but an unknown unknown to the average person, we don’t really have a public conception of how drastically our world could suddenly change if quantum computers burst on the scene.
Now Google—the Big Tech giant actively pushing the needle on everything from artificial intelligence to full brain-simulation—has made a stunning announcement, claiming the creation of a quantum superconducting processor with exponential computing speeds.
The science behind the milestone announcement is laid out in a Google research paper titled “Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor.” This paper was briefly available on NASA’s government website but was then removed without explanation.
Scientists argue the new processor can solve in 200 seconds equations that would take even an advanced modern-day supercomputer 100,000 years to complete. Such parabolic growth is almost incomprehensible and could portrend a strange future in which machine intelligence is vastly superior to human consciousness.
“Quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws,” write the researchers.
Quantum computing involves tapping into the raw power of quantum superposition. This phenomena would allow qubits (quantum bits), which usually use ‘ones’ and ‘zeros’ to transmit data, to carry vast amounts of information. Google’s quantum computer is called “Sycamore” and can supposedly store 53-qubits.
“Quantum processors based on superconducting qubits can now perform computations…beyond the reach of the fastest classical supercomputers available today,” the researchers said. “To our knowledge, this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor.”
Harmut Neven, director of Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, says there is nothing in the natural world that compares with the levels of exponential growth they’re seeing in Sycamore’s abilities. Because Google has major competition over quantum technology with other firms like IBM, Intel and Microsoft—not to mention government agencies—we can expect to see years, if not decades, of ferocious battles on the quantum computing front—with the victor potentially wielding unfathomable power in both the marketplace and world.
Quantum computing is about to change everything.