Lets talk about Quantum Supremacy, These days, computer scientists are boiling on fire these days in the conviction that Google is preparing a sensational announcement, one of those works that will appear at Christmas in the top ten of the science of the year. The Silicon Valley Goliath believes it has demonstrated “quantum supremacy,” the empirical demonstration that a computer based on the physical enigmatic that prevails at atomic scales can execute operations that are not within reach of the most formidable conventional computers that exist. If confirmed, it would be a remarkable progress.
Will it be confirmed? It is likely, and the little story of the leak has its grace. The paper manuscript (scientific article) appeared last week on the NASA website. The reason, surely, is that Google has collaborated with NASA scientists on this project, but the fact is that the space agency withdrew the paper from its website in a few hours, claiming a technical oversight. In our times, however, hijacking a publication, as it was done in the kiosks and bookstores, is little less than impossible. The preliminary manuscript has appeared in the inbox of many relevant people, including two Financial Times journalists from London and computer scientist Scott Aaronson of the University of Texas at Austin.
The bottom line is somewhat thick. It’s about knowing if the random number generators we use on computers are truly random, or they just seem so. I understand your yawns, unoccupied reader. But the problem has not been chosen for its practical interest or media punch , but to serve as proof of principle. The fastest supercomputer in the world, a machine created by IBM for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy, would take 10,000 years to solve the problem of random numbers. Google’s quantum computer takes three minutes, twenty seconds.
The difference between three minutes and 10,000 years may not be philosophically relevant – just wait long enough to get the same result – but it is a new world for technology. A world that leaves Moore’s famous law far behind (the power of a chip doubles every year and a half, an exponential function like two raised ax) to replace it with a “double exponential law” (like two raised to two raised ax) . This function grows much, much faster than Moore’s law. Who thinks that we live in accelerated times, better wait for quantum computing to feel nostalgic for the year 2019, when things were so peaceful. The best and the worst are yet to come, and this will never end.
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Among the foreseeable applications of quantum computing are cryptography, chemistry, drug development, agriculture, artificial intelligence and the invention of new materials. The most important, however, will be the ones we can’t even imagine now. My favorite is an idea of Richard Feynman, one of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century, and a pioneer of the principles of quantum computing. Since the universe is governed in the deepest by a quantum logic, Feynman reasoned, only a quantum computer will allow us to manufacture a solvent simulation of the cosmos. The powerful mathematics of quantum physics can be embodied in a computer to create a cosmos from nothing. What will happen to the mystics?