Has Google cracked quantum computing?

Posted on December 14, 2015

 

Tech company Google has announced an extraordinary breakthrough in computing power -one that could see a revolution in artificial intelligence.

The search company teamed up with NASA in 2013 to purchase a D-Wave X2, which is claimed to be the world’s first completely functioning quantum computer system – something that not only calculates in binary 1s and 0s, but also in qubits, which exist as 1 and 0 at the same time. This has the potential to dramatically increase computing power, but so far, no-one has been able to prove that the D-Wave X2 uses the quantum realm in its calculations – not even its designers.

Since then, Google has been carrying out experiments with “quantum annealing”; that is, how a computer figures out the best way to solve a problem, with a limited number of options to do so.

So far, scientists have only been able to carry out experiments on simulations of a quantum computer, but Google showed that the D-Wave completed computations 100 million times faster than simulations were able to.

Although Google is cautiously optimistic about the results, the implications have caused excitement. A much smarter and intuitive search engine is only the tip of the iceberg; quantum computing could be used to simulate rocket launches, or power next-generation artificial intelligence.

Google’s Vice President of Engineering, John Giannandrea, said:

“We’ve already encountered problems in the course of our products impractical to solve with existing computers, and we have a lot of computers. [However] it may be several years before this research makes a difference to Google products.”

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