An important milestone for quantum computers seems to have been reached with Google using a quantum computer to solve a problem 1 billion times faster than the fastest supercomputer in the world. This could be the beginning of quantum supremacy. Quantum supremacy is when quantum computers become faster than regular computers. However, quantum supremacy will be for certain classes of problems.
If you think of difficult mathematical problems as searching through mountainous terrain for an answer then quantum computers are better when the answer comes faster from tunneling through mountains instead of going around.
If the problems are easy then there are no mountains to tunnel through. Regular computers are so useful because they can solve so many problems. Many of those problems are pretty tough.
What was this first problem that was hard enough where it would take 10,000 years for a 200 petaflop supercomputer to solve but only 3 minutes for the Google quantum computer?
Robert Hackett at Fortune reports that Google sampled randomly generated numbers produced through a specialized scenario involving quantum phenomena. The researchers said they determined that their quantum computer beat regular computers at the task, which involved calculating the output of certain specialized circuits.
“While our processor takes about 200 seconds to sample one instance of the quantum circuit 1 million times, a state-of-the-art supercomputer would require approximately 10,000 years to perform the equivalent task,” the researchers said.
Google’s quantum computer, dubbed “Sycamore,” contained 53-qubits, or “quantum bits,” a measure of the machine’s potential power. The team scaled back from a 72-qubit device, dubbed “Bristlecone,” it had previously designed.
The researchers estimate that performing the same experiment on a Google Cloud server would take 50 trillion hours—too long to be feasible.
In the future, quantum computers will work with regular computers and talented programmers and researchers. They will expand the universe of solvable problems. However, you will only use the quantum computers for those really difficult problems that have great value.
They will help with certain aspects of artificial intelligence and machine learning. They will help crack certain problems in math, physics and chemistry. They will help discover new drugs and materials. They will help will large scale optimization problems.
Certain big and tough problems have great value. Certain chemicals and fertilizers that become better or more energy-efficient could boost the world economy by 20%. Having logistics on a large scale with optimal efficiency can also boost the world economy by 10-30%.
You will probably not have one. In the rare instances you need one, they will either have produced answers which we all use or you will send the parameters of a problem via a cloud interface for a solution.
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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