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Quantum Computing

Reporting Shows Google Has Claimed to Achieve “Quantum Supremacy” 

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In what could be the biggest development in quantum computing, Google has claimed that it reached “quantum supremacy.” This comes as John Martinis, along with a group of researchers from Google, demonstrated their new abilities. The news was first picked up by the Financial Times. The original paper that detailed these new developments was first published on a NASA website, but it was quickly taken down before being picked up by the media. 

Quantum supremacy is being defined as the point at which a quantum computer is able to perform tasks that are well beyond the capabilities of the most powerful conventional supercomputer. According to the paper that was published, “this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor.” 

The title of the published paper was “Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor.” 

According to MIT Technology Review, Google and NASA entered into an agreement last year which allowed Google to use supercomputers held by NASA. The reporting has said that the published paper stated that Google’s quantum processor was able to calculate and process data at an incredible rate. In a calculation that would take Summit, the world’s most advanced supercomputer, about 10,000 years, the new quantum processor at Google was able to complete it in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. Google is the only known company who has achieved this milestone. 

The reason for the increased focus on quantum machines and their power is that they are capable of harnessing quantum bits (qubits), rather than just classical bits. Classical bits are either a 1 or a 0,  while quantum bits are able to be a combination of both at the same time. Along with other features, this enables quantum computers to be able to process extraordinary amounts of data in a small amount of time. Regular supercomputers are required to go through the process in sequence. This has been a focus of scientists for years, as they recognize the enormous potential that these machines bring to our world. 

There has been disagreement among the technology community as to whether this is as big of a deal as it seems, as reported by the Financial Times. There is no doubt that Google has built the first quantum computer that is able to outperform the most powerful supercomputer in the world, but some believe that it’s not as big of a milestone as it is being made out to be. 

According to Dario Gil, the head researcher at IBM, what Google is doing is both indefensible and wrong, and he said that the work done by Google is “a laboratory experiment designed to essentially — and almost certainly exclusively — implement one very specific quantum sampling procedure with no practical applications.”

There are some supporters of the claim of “quantum supremacy,” like Chad Rigetti, a former IBM executive. He says that these developments are a profound moment for both quantum computing and humans. 

The major tech companies like IBM, Google, Intel, and Microsoft have all been investing huge amounts of money and resources into this field. They are all looking to be the leader, as Google has claimed they have done. This technology will have huge implications in almost every aspect of society and industry including artificial intelligence, security, communication, and science.  

One can say that the exact claim by Google of achieving “quantum supremacy,” is just as terrifying as the language. WIth tech companies increasingly gaining more power, they have an important hold on our societies. Whether or not Google has truly achieved “quantum supremacy,” there is no doubt that whoever does will hold the keys to the future of quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and processing thousands of years of data in minutes. 


Alex McFarland is an AI journalist and writer exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has collaborated with numerous AI startups and publications worldwide.