The world’s three superpowers are competing in a quantum computing race that flies over the head of most people, even though it is exactly this that will determine global supremacy. In this case, “computers” become “supercomputers”, and the technology they harness is quantum mechanics.
The difference between quantum computers and existing ones means much faster processing speeds, and potentially solving problems and processing data that would take traditional machines millennia.
Whoever gets to the finish line first gets to solve problems faster than anyone else. It’s the holy grail of information that makes a toxic cocktail when combined with 5G technology and big data collection.
And now, China claims to have made a significant advancement.
A research team from the University of Science and Technology of China just announced they have achieved quantum computational advantage with its quantum computer prototype, named "Jiuzhang.” The achievement marks the country's first milestone on the path to full-scale quantum computing--otherwise known as “quantum supremacy”.
The computer achieved Gaussian boson sampling in under four minutes. That four minutes is significant: The world's fastest supercomputer, Fugaku, would have taken 600 million years to achieve the same.
So, where does that leave Google’s quantum computing efforts?
The Chinese team says their prototype processes are 10 billion times faster than Google’s 53-qubit quantum computer developed late last year.
Google claimed to have achieved quantum supremacy by making a calculation in 200 seconds. The same calculation by the world’s fastest existing supercomputer would have taken 10,000 years.
So, it’s a question of basic math, it would seem:
Google’s 200 seconds/10,000 years …
And Jiuzhang’s 4 minutes/600 million years.
Quantum cold war aside, proponents of the development of quantum computers perceive the technology to be the key game-changer for self-learning artificial intelligence (AI), medicine, financial risk and much, much more…
However, opponents are highly uncertain of the ultimate benefits to society.
Whether it ends up being Google or the Chinese, we’re still not there yet. This race has failed to deliver a quantum computer that can actually do anything useful for now. The most optimistic experts estimate it will take 5 to 10 years to construct useful quantum computers. More cautious ones predict 20 to 30 years.
Still, Bank of America strategist Haim Israel said last December that quantum computing would be as revolutionary as smartphones were in the 2010s.
The U.S., the United Kingdom and European Union have each promised more than $1 billion in investment in quantum computing and related technologies. In 2018, the U.S. Congress adopted a bill aimed at accelerating the development of quantum computing. The Russian government allocated some $800 million in the technology and expect to reach quantum supremacy in two years from now.
That’s peanuts compared to what China is willing to spend. China has allocated more than $10 billion toward supremacy.
A number of high-tech companies have also been experimenting with quantum computers for more than a decade. Beside Google, IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Intel and others have all spent heavily on developing quantum computing hardware in recent years.
By Fred Dunkley for Safehaven.com
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