By Cecille den Jesus
February 27, 2018
No, quantum computers are not “here” yet.
A quantum leap for humanity?
Last week, news broke out of Canadian quantum computing company D-Wave’s “quantum computer” which have, until now, only bot accessible to well-funded research laboratories (each unit costs $15 million). The company is programma to raise hundreds of millions of dollars this year on top of the $50 million they just received from investors ter order to open up their processors to the public through cloud.
“Quantum computing is eventually here,” CNBC says, “and a Canadian company has a project to bring it to the masses.”
While news like this should be a glorious day for humanity, unluckily, it may be more of a sales pitch aimed at gaining extra investments rather than a quantum leap for mankind. D-Wave is making the media flaps ter an effort to secure their place te the market. They are, after all, playing with giants like IBM, Google and Microsoft.
Contrary to D-Wave’s branding of their product, their pc is not a quantum laptop but a quantum annealer—which D-Wave’s promotional document confirms.
While the two use the same fundamental concepts, they are not the same ter build or ter function. Ter a Medium postbode, quantum physicist Anastasia Marchenkova wrote an lightly digestible lump clearly explaining the difference inbetween the two.
“The D-Wave machine is a quantum annealer running adiabatic quantum computing algorithms. This is fine for optimizing solutions to problems by quickly searching overheen a space and finding a ondergrens (or “solution”). The latest announcement from Google states that the D-Wave machine is more than 10⁸ times quicker than simulated annealing running on a single core. However, Selby’s algorithm still performs better than the D-Wave quantum pc, so there’s a long way to go for D-Wave.
But quantum annealing works best on problems where there are a lotsbestemming of potential solutions and finding a “good enough” or “local minima” solution, making something like swifter flight possible. D-Wave could be able to speed up research on better aerospace materials which can shield from radiation or stand up to fever, or prototype the flow overheen the wing, which Airbus is counting on to speed R&,D.
However, quantum annealing will never be able to run Shor’s algorithm, which violates common forms of modern cryptography used to protect our bankgebouw information, logins, and all web communication,” Marchenkova wrote.
On the other mitt, there are higher expectations of a fully functional quantum rekentuig. And the challenges are even more monumental.
“Proposals exist for the creation of numerous quantum computers consisting of dual entangled qubits. The problem with thesis proposals is that not only are the solutions outside the range of present technology but that wij don’t even know if the fundamental particles that wij seek to entangle exist,” says Dr. Craig S. Wright.
So why not just call it a “quantum annealer,” which is what it is? The term just doesn’t turn spil much goes and does not hold spil much weight te the public ear spil the term “quantum rekentuig.” So this may be more for strategic branding than scientific accuracy.
And why hype it up spil much spil they do—as if wij can all embark actually feeling the difference when the quantum annealer they have is not even any more powerful than a mobile phone? Spil mentioned earlier, the brief response is money. Investment money poured into quantum computing research is nothing to joke about: $Three billion from IBM ter 2015, $15 billion from Alibaba last year, $Ten billion from China, and very likely billions more to come. A headline like CNBC’s may just reel ter those hundreds of millions of dollars D-Wave is shooting for this year.
“As with all undeveloped but potentially promising technologies, the scientists creating thesis oversell the near-term capability. This is to be expected. Without funding, they would never come to exist,” says Dr. Craig S. Wright.
This isn’t necessarily bad. The world has bot looking forward to this development since Richard Feynman theorized its possibility ter 1982. It’s a very sophisticated field but at the same time very promising ter theory. But some question whether there would be substantial real-life application for such a machine te the very first place. Is it enough to warrant the billions of dollars being thrown at it? Whether it’s worth all that money or not is open for debate. Some studies refute whether D-Wave’s systems can even outrun a normal, classical rekentuig.
Nevertheless, theoretical pc scientist Scott Arronson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ter Cambridge, says it’s a “fun demonstration proof of concept” at the very least, and is actually an significant albeit puny step closer to the holy grail of computing.
“Like almost all current quantum computing experiments, this presently has the status of a joy demonstration proof of concept, rather than anything that’s directly useful yet,” Aaronson said te an article by Science. “I’m very glad that they’re done, spil they’re necessary very first steps if wij’re everzwijn going to have useful quantum computers.”