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  • Hunter Sanzeri

Quantum Supremacy: Meaningful or Hype?


If you're in the quantum computing industry by now you've heard that Google officially announced quantum supremacy. There are a few definitions of quantum supremacy floating out there but the official definition from John Preskill who first coined the phrase in 2012 is: "to describe the point where quantum computers can do things that classical computers can’t, regardless of whether those tasks are useful."*

The idea was simply to have a single proof point where we could show that a quantum computer would, for the first time, demonstrate that in a single calculation it could outperform our fastest classical computers (such as supercomputers).

Utility of quantum supremacy is debatable but one thing is for sure: quantum computing has reached a significant milestone if in fact Google did achieve quantum supremacy. Those of us in Silicon Valley have learned to bet on Google as they have done some amazing things technologically. In this author’s humble opinion, I believe that Google tends to understate versus being hyperbolic.

At Quantum Thought, we are focused on quantum computing applications. By now showing that there is a strong likelihood that supremacy has been hit in this calendar year provides the impetus to continue advancing quantum computing and its applications. With Moore's law running out of steam, we believe that humans needed new form of compute. Data is outpacing our compute power each year and the only way are able to solve large data issues is by throwing more CPU and GPU power at the problem. Now football-field sized data centers are necessary due to not only the amount of data growth, but also if we ever want to really take advantage of AI and machine learning.

Creating acres of GPU farms is not scalable and is a tremendous energy and resource hog. If Google supremacy is true, they showed that with just 53 cubits on 1 quantum computer about the size of a small refrigerator, there were able to perform a calculation that a supercomputer the size of two tennis courts could not do in 10,000 years. The efficiencies we gain using quantum computing are exponential and if we can realize the true value quantum computing in the future by harnessing subatomic particles via superposition and entanglement, we will have set ourselves on a path with the compute power necessary to handle data growth and compute demand.

Of course there are downsides to this as well which include AI ethics and cybersecurity but those are for another blog post.

For now let's celebrate the fact that Google may have achieved this watershed event and keep pushing forward with solid science and applications based on quantum computing.

*https://www.quantamagazine.org/john-preskill-explains-quantum-supremacy-20191002/

https://www.theverge.com/2019/10/23/20928294/google-quantum-supremacy-sycamore-computer-qubit-milestone

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