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posted by hubie on Wednesday September 21, @03:03AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the quantum-computers-will-run-our-fusion-reactors dept.

An IEEE Spectrum opinion piece on the current state of quantum computing:

Over the past five years, there has been undeniable hype around quantum computing—hype around approaches, timelines, applications, and more. As far back as 2017, vendors were claiming the commercialization of the technology was just a couple of years away—like the announcement of a 5,000-qubit system by 2020 (which didn't happen). There was even what I'd call antihype, with some questioning if quantum computers would materialize at all (I hope they end up being wrong).

More recently, companies have shifted their timelines from a few years to a decade, but they continue to release road maps showing commercially viable systems as early as 2029. And these hype-fueled expectations are becoming institutionalized: The Department of Homeland Security even released a road map to protect against the threats of quantum computing, in an effort to help institutions transition to new security systems. This creates an "adopt or you'll fall behind" mentality for both quantum-computing applications and postquantum cryptography security.

[...] In my opinion, quantum practicality is likely still 10 to 15 years away. However, progress toward that goal is not just steady; it's accelerating. That's the same thing we saw with Moore's Law and semiconductor evolution: The more we discover, the faster we go. Semiconductor technology has taken decades to progress to its current state, accelerating at each turn. We expect similar advancement with quantum computing.

[...] Let's remember that it took Google 53 qubits to create an application that could accomplish a supercomputer function. If we want to explore new applications that go beyond today's supercomputers, we'll need to see system sizes that are orders of magnitude larger.

Quantum computing has come a long way in the past five years, but we still have a long way to go, and investors will need to fund it for the long term. Significant developments are happening in the lab, and they show immense promise for what could be possible in the future. For now, it's important that we don't get caught up in the hype but focus on real outcomes.

The author points out that some of the larger challenges that need to be addressed are: better devices and high-quality qubits, simple qbit interconnect technologies that do away with the existing multi-wire configuration, fast qubit control and feedback loops, and error correction that an run on a large group of qbits.


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @03:57AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @03:57AM (#1272686)

    It wants its hype back

    • (Score: 5, Funny) by driverless on Wednesday September 21, @08:53AM (1 child)

      by driverless (4770) on Wednesday September 21, @08:53AM (#1272709)

      In my opinion, quantum practicality is likely still 10 to 15 years away

      Gawd, that means we'll have free fusion power and space elevators before quantum computers, they're only ten years away.

      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Wednesday September 21, @12:47PM

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday September 21, @12:47PM (#1272741) Journal

        and I'll be laughing all the way to the bank in my flying car.

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @04:51AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @04:51AM (#1272692)

    It's more likely to break all of your encryption than simulate the cure for cancer.

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @06:29AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @06:29AM (#1272697)
      Molecular dynamics simulations for quantum chemistry seem to be easier to do than Shor's algorithm for the kinds of RSA key sizes that are in wide use today. It was the original application for quantum computers that Richard Feynman envisioned when he first talked about them in the early 1980s. You generally won't need to do the kind of elaborate protection from decoherence that a quantum algorithm like Shor's will require.
  • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @08:40AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @08:40AM (#1272708)

    I, for one, am disappointed in the lack of progress. By this time in humanity's cycle I expected at least flying cars and quantum smart phones. If this is the best you can do, I'm going to have to reduce wages until there is an improvement in attitude. Would a world war help remind everyone what's important?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @12:31PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @12:31PM (#1272738)

      If recent progress is any indication, the most important thing seems to be maximizing invasion of personal
      privacy and maximizing the opportunities for marketing weasels to shove an add at your eyeholes.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @04:21PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @04:21PM (#1272799)

        It's the Age of Parasites.

  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by HiThere on Wednesday September 21, @01:40PM (1 child)

    by HiThere (866) on Wednesday September 21, @01:40PM (#1272755) Journal

    The reason Moore's law worked is that when prices dropped, the size of the market increased. But as far as I know even the potential applications where quantum computing would have an advantage are rather narrow. They're important, but I don't see any mass market. So I think the analogy fails. This is truer if they can't avoid the need to keep the processors supercooled (though In space and not under acceleration that would be less of a problem as you could use a good thermos and magnetic levitation). Still the restrictions mean that it's REALLY hard to shrink the devices, they require power even when off, and there's only a small subset of problems where they have an advantage.

    So quantum computing could have an advantage in materials science labs (including analyzing molecular chemistry), and in factoring numbers, and a few other specialized jobs. But most of those could be handled best by a few really powerful quantum computers that could be accessed by classical computers. I feel like paraphrasing an old IBM spokesman, Thomas J. Watson, "I see a market for 5 or 6 quantum computers in the world.". (And the caveat is that I'm aware of how wrong he turned out to be.)

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @04:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, @04:29PM (#1272803)

      When you get a new tool it's surprising the number of jobs that turn out to be easier with that tool. I'm talking about the left-handed corkscrew and the asparagus steamer; essentially anything from QVC.

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