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NASA/Google leaked quantum computing paper


Jan 21, 2015
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Article for putting this leaked news in prospective.

But this breakthrough doesn’t mean that useful quantum computers are just around the corner. Not by a long shot. Instead, Google has just kicked open the door to the next era of quantum computing. And that’s where things start to get really interesting.

Quantum supremacy isn’t quite as exciting as it sounds, says Simon Benjamin, professor of quantum technologies at the University of Oxford. It just means the moment that a quantum computer completes a task that conventional computers find impossible. In Google’s case, that meant telling the quantum computer to run a random set of instructions and then measure the results. The researchers then tried to get a supercomputer to predict what the quantum computer would produce, to make sure that the results really were only achievable by a quantum computer.

This task is – practically speaking – pointless. It’s good at sorting out quantum computers from their classical kin, but that’s it. And that means that, in some ways, quantum supremacy is pointless too. “It’s [a milestone] that must be passed to get to the really good stuff, but it is not going to have any immediate consequences at all,” says Benjamin.