And why it matters.
Just yesterday, Google published a blog post detailing an achievement called ‘quantum supremacy’. The blog post, along with an accompanying article that was published in the Nature scientific journal said that Google has designed a machine capable of solving a problem in breakneck speed. How fast you ask? An equation that would take 10,000 years to complete by a supercomputer was completed by Google’s machine in just 200 seconds.
It’s all very scientific – but basically it means that Google utilizes quantum computers (a computer that taps into quantum mechanics to solve more complicated equations) to do this, meaning it can process information faster than any machine that was ever created.
On a normal computer, data is calculated one state at a time using binary code – a 0 or a 1. For quantum computers, it uses quantum bits that means a combination of both 0 and 1, this translates to an even faster processing speed which in turn can be used to compute complicated equations much faster.
“We developed a new 54-qubit processor, named “Sycamore”, that is comprised of fast, high-fidelity quantum logic gates, in order to perform the benchmark testing. Our machine performed the target computation in 200 seconds, and from measurements, in our experiment, we determined that it would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to produce a similar output,” Google said in a blog post.
Reports say that Google’s experiment was criticized by some experts. In a report by CNN, IBM was one of the companies that said that Google overestimated the 10,000-year timeframe – it said that a normal computer can easily solve that equation in less than 3 days. Sundar Pichai, current Google CEO has defended the company against the claims, even comparing to the achievement similar to the Wright Brothers’ first flight tests. “The first plane flew only for 12 seconds, and so there is no practical application of that. But it showed the possibility that a plane could fly,” Pichai said in an interview with MIT Technology Review.
But how will it benefit us? Solving complex equations can be applied to different fields – from designing buildings to vehicles, the possibilities are endless. If what Google claims is proven to be true that also means that the future that we normally see in movies is now closer to reality.
Read more about Google’s experiment titled Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor.