In early 2011, a pair of theoretical computer scientists at MIT proposed an optical experiment that would harness the weird laws of quantum mechanics to perform a computation impossible on conventional computers. the experiment “has the potential to take us past what I would like to call the ‘quantum singularity,’ where we do the first thing quantumly that we can’t do on a classical computer.”
The MIT experiment is scientifically interesting but it is a very weak and useless singularity. The Technological singularity is when Artificial General Intelligence exceeds human intelligence by a billion times and the result is supposed to be rapidly accelerated technological progress. Technological progress would be so fast that humanity would not be able to predict what will happen. The “quantum singularity” could eventually lead to useful quantum computers that exceed classical computers but it will be many years to create the benefits and it would be difficult to tell the difference between a world where quantum computers are better than classical computers and a world where that had not happened.
Eventually if quantum optimizations are vastly superior then there will be improved logistics which would need to be adopted on a wide scale and the world economy could be improved by several percentage points.
Eventually vastly superior quantum simulations should drive faster development of molecular nanotechnology and improved complex quantum systems.
The computation that Aaronson and Arkhipov’s experiment performs is obscure and not very useful: Technically, it samples from a probability distribution defined by permanents of large matrices. There are, however, proposals to use optical signals to do general-purpose quantum computing, most prominently a scheme known as KLM, after its creators, Emanuel Knill, Raymond Laflamme and Gerard Milburn.
According to Dove, some in the quantum-computing community have suggested that Aaronson and Arkhipov’s experiment may be difficult enough to perform with the requisite number of photons that researchers would be better off trying to build full-fledged KLM systems.