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Old 24th October 2019, 03:46 AM   #1
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So quantum computers are a thing now. What can we do with them?

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https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/10/qu...grammable.html

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1666-5

They've completed a benchmark test, which shows that it can solve certain problems much faster than the fastest supercomputer. The benchmark test itself is not really practical for anything beyond proving that it works.

I wonder what practical uses this technology will have? I'm sure nobody could really think of much practical applications for early computers either, beyond calculating the trajectories of artillery shells, and stuff like that.

Can it make AI better, I wonder? Could it even lead to sentient AI? Is the AI singularity about to happen?
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Old 24th October 2019, 03:47 AM   #2
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Old 24th October 2019, 05:03 AM   #3
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Can it play a game of chess?
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Old 24th October 2019, 05:09 AM   #4
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Maybe. I mean, Google has already invented Alpha Zero, which seems to be the best chess player ever. But Alpha Zero doesn't rely on quantum computing as far as I know. Perhaps quantum computing could make it even better.
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Old 24th October 2019, 05:10 AM   #5
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The first practical applications will likely be simulation of simple quantum systems. In time this may become really useful for (quantum) chemistry, maybe even protein folding.

Easily cracking (most) current public encryption keys is at least a decade away and may prove impossible (the quantum computers which should be able to do this can be fairly easily described, at a high level; however, they may prove impossible to actually make/build, for a very long time).
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Old 26th October 2019, 01:57 PM   #6
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Maybe the feat was not so great after all.

Quote:
The Google group reiterates its claim that its 53-qubit computer performed, in 200 seconds, an arcane task that would take 10,000 years for Summit, a supercomputer IBM built for the Department of Energy that is currently the world’s fastest. But IBM appears to have already rebutted Google’s claim. On 21 October, it announced that, by tweaking the way Summit approaches the task, it can do it far faster: in 2.5 days. IBM says the threshold for quantum supremacy—doing something a classical computer can’t—has thus still not been met. The race continues.
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019...ntum-supremacy

But how independent is IBM on this?
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Old 26th October 2019, 03:22 PM   #7
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Scott Aaronson’s latest blogpost, “Quantum Supremacy: the gloves are off” (https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=4372) covers this very well, I feel. There are a lot of good comments, and responses from Scott.
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Old 26th October 2019, 07:36 PM   #8
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We can program them to figure out why people begin sentences with 'so'.
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Old 26th October 2019, 07:51 PM   #9
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The next step is homeopathic computing. Take everything out of a quantum computer, leaving an empty box. But the box retains the memory of quantum computing, therefore it solves the problems far faster.
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Old 26th October 2019, 08:03 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
But how independent is IBM on this?
Well, IBM is making its own quantum computers so maybe they don't want to be upstaged by Google.

Quote:
On 21 October, it announced that, by tweaking the way Summit approaches the task, it can do it far faster: in 2.5 days. IBM says the threshold for quantum supremacy—doing something a classical computer can’t—has thus still not been met.
Even still, 200 seconds << 2.5 days, no? 216000 seconds in 2.5 days, so it's over 1000 times faster.

It's still a pretty good demonstration that the technology works.
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Old 26th October 2019, 08:41 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
Scott Aaronson’s latest blogpost, “Quantum Supremacy: the gloves are off” (https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=4372) covers this very well, I feel. There are a lot of good comments, and responses from Scott.
Quote:
OK, so let’s carefully spell out what the IBM paper says. They argue that, by commandeering the full attention of Summit at Oak Ridge National Lab, the most powerful supercomputer that currently exists on Earth—one that fills the area of two basketball courts, and that (crucially) has 250 petabytes of hard disk space—one could just barely store the entire quantum state vector of Google’s 53-qubit Sycamore chip in hard disk. And once one had done that, one could simulate the chip in ~2.5 days, more-or-less just by updating the entire state vector by brute force, rather than the 10,000 years that Google had estimated on the basis of my and Lijie Chen’s “Schrödinger-Feynman algorithm” (which can get by with less memory).

The IBM group understandably hasn’t actually done this yet—even though IBM set it up, the world’s #1 supercomputer isn’t just sitting around waiting for jobs! But I see little reason to doubt that their analysis is basically right. I don’t know why the Google team didn’t consider how such near-astronomical hard disk space would change their calculations; probably they wish they had.
I think at this point it's just a matter of semantics and definitions. Sure, with a ginormous supercomputer with a ginormous hard drive, you could perform the same task, albeit 1000 times slower. But the Sycamore chip can and will be improved with more qbits in the future.

I wonder if they are going to keep going with tree names for future generations of the chips?
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Old 27th October 2019, 01:03 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
Scott Aaronson’s latest blogpost, “Quantum Supremacy: the gloves are off” (https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=4372) covers this very well, I feel. There are a lot of good comments, and responses from Scott.
Thanks for the link. How refreshing to read how science actually works rather than the pseudoscience of the likes of Mills and BLP.
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Old 27th October 2019, 01:07 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I think at this point it's just a matter of semantics and definitions. Sure, with a ginormous supercomputer with a ginormous hard drive, you could perform the same task, albeit 1000 times slower. But the Sycamore chip can and will be improved with more qbits in the future.



I wonder if they are going to keep going with tree names for future generations of the chips?
Have to keep in mind that we don't know if they can add more qbits, albeit there doesn't seem to be any theoretical reason that states they won't be able to increase the number of qbits. But it is at a minimum a very tough engineering problem.
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Old 27th October 2019, 06:17 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Have to keep in mind that we don't know if they can add more qbits, albeit there doesn't seem to be any theoretical reason that states they won't be able to increase the number of qbits. But it is at a minimum a very tough engineering problem.
Well they did say in their blog entry:
Quote:
We see our 54-qubit Sycamore processor as the first in a series of ever more powerful quantum processors.
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Old 27th October 2019, 06:36 AM   #15
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I wonder about the applicability of the computational time comparison. The comparison I'd like to see is some calculation that's equally abstract for both computers. It doesn't seem quite fair to make the "problem" the evolution of the state of the quantum computer itself.

By analogy, I claim to have developed a sophisticated analog computer that can rapidly calculate the trajectories of large numbers of simultaneously falling colliding solid massive bodies of complex arbitrary shapes. It works by dumping out a bucket of gravel, producing results in a few seconds. Since it would take a supercomputer many hours to compute the resulting trajectories, I've demonstrated grav-grav (gravitational/gravel) supremacy. Or have I?
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Old 27th October 2019, 07:31 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
Maybe the feat was not so great after all.



https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019...ntum-supremacy

But how independent is IBM on this?
As is covered in Scott Aaronson’s blogpost, IBM is working very hard on its own QC.

Their paper on Google’s is rather ironic ... I’m sure they’d have rather had it the other way round.
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Old 27th October 2019, 07:39 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I think at this point it's just a matter of semantics and definitions. Sure, with a ginormous supercomputer with a ginormous hard drive, you could perform the same task, albeit 1000 times slower. But the Sycamore chip can and will be improved with more qbits in the future.

I wonder if they are going to keep going with tree names for future generations of the chips?
There is a good comment, a long way down, on historical contingency: what if the first QC were only 15 or so qubits, and computers were still programmed with paper tape?

It’s certainly widely believed that the Google QC design can be extended to more qubits (60 and 70 are oft mentioned). However, I feel there’s rather too much hope in this ... the physics and engineering that went into Sycamore were heroic, yes the team has some truly brilliant people on it. But the achievement was very hard won, and getting to even 60 qubits will surely be even more heroic. So far, this stuff is NOT scalable.
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Old 27th October 2019, 07:44 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Thanks for the link. How refreshing to read how science actually works rather than the pseudoscience of the likes of Mills and BLP.
I agree.

The actual process can be quite messy and confusing, and good definitions matter. In this particular case, I really like the openness, including Nature’s decision to let the reviewers be known (their choice).

Also, Google isn’t the only player, there are several others, quite independent ... including IBM.
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Old 27th October 2019, 07:48 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
There is a good comment, a long way down, on historical contingency: what if the first QC were only 15 or so qubits, and computers were still programmed with paper tape?

It’s certainly widely believed that the Google QC design can be extended to more qubits (60 and 70 are oft mentioned). However, I feel there’s rather too much hope in this ... the physics and engineering that went into Sycamore were heroic, yes the team has some truly brilliant people on it. But the achievement was very hard won, and getting to even 60 qubits will surely be even more heroic. So far, this stuff is NOT scalable.
So, no Moore's law for quantum computers?
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Old 27th October 2019, 07:52 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
I wonder about the applicability of the computational time comparison. The comparison I'd like to see is some calculation that's equally abstract for both computers. It doesn't seem quite fair to make the "problem" the evolution of the state of the quantum computer itself.

By analogy, I claim to have developed a sophisticated analog computer that can rapidly calculate the trajectories of large numbers of simultaneously falling colliding solid massive bodies of complex arbitrary shapes. It works by dumping out a bucket of gravel, producing results in a few seconds. Since it would take a supercomputer many hours to compute the resulting trajectories, I've demonstrated grav-grav (gravitational/gravel) supremacy. Or have I?
There are quite a few comments in Scott’s blogpost like this. One relevant one: who needs a QC to simulate protein folding, say, when you can just watch proteins fold? (Simulations of quantum processes are one of the very few applications of QCs that everyone thinks are possible).

Scott, being a computer science theorist, is extremely impressed by the abstract, scaling considerations (polynomial time vs exponential, say). A great many others are more concerned about feasibility and practical applications.
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Old 27th October 2019, 07:59 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
So, no Moore's law for quantum computers?
It’s a work in progress.

Sycamore is not fault-tolerant and has ~no error correction.

Quite a few groups are working, independently, on how to build/make error correction and fault tolerance in a QC; so far with very limited success AFAIK.

Even with error correction, it’s not at all obvious there will be any significant, feasible scaling.

There’s a lot of hope, hype, etc; there are also a lot of brilliant people working on it, backed by a huge amount of $$$ ....
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Old 28th October 2019, 04:50 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
I agree.



The actual process can be quite messy and confusing, and good definitions matter. In this particular case, I really like the openness, including Nature’s decision to let the reviewers be known (their choice).



Also, Google isn’t the only player, there are several others, quite independent ... including IBM.
And the author of the blog has made several corrections based on the comments from his readers. Such closed minds!
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Old 28th October 2019, 06:43 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by JeanTate View Post
It’s certainly widely believed that the Google QC design can be extended to more qubits (60 and 70 are oft mentioned). However, I feel there’s rather too much hope in this ... the physics and engineering that went into Sycamore were heroic, yes the team has some truly brilliant people on it. But the achievement was very hard won, and getting to even 60 qubits will surely be even more heroic. So far, this stuff is NOT scalable.
260 = 1152921504606846976

For some problems, the effective speed of a quantum computer is an exponential function of the number of qbits, so the benefit of adding more qbits is literally exponential.
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Old 28th October 2019, 07:02 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by W.D.Clinger View Post
260 = 1152921504606846976

For some problems, the effective speed of a quantum computer is an exponential function of the number of qbits, so the benefit of adding more qbits is literally exponential.
Yes, and this is a point which Scott repeatedly makes (there are some caveats of course). He will be sure to say that, so far, there's only one problem for which "supremacy" has been clearly demonstrated (running on Google's Sycamore).

But even he was unwilling to even guess when a 60 qubit QC - perhaps a Sycamore descendant? - might be built (and run a similar program).

I feel it's a very exciting time to be around to watch this field develop; it may turn out to be one of great turning points in the history of technology (and engineering and physics and ...), at least comparable to steam power or electricity.
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Old 30th October 2019, 03:46 AM   #25
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But will it run Crysis?
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Old 30th October 2019, 04:15 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
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https://ai.googleblog.com/2019/10/qu...grammable.html

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-019-1666-5

They've completed a benchmark test, which shows that it can solve certain problems much faster than the fastest supercomputer. The benchmark test itself is not really practical for anything beyond proving that it works.

I wonder what practical uses this technology will have? I'm sure nobody could really think of much practical applications for early computers either, beyond calculating the trajectories of artillery shells, and stuff like that.

Can it make AI better, I wonder? Could it even lead to sentient AI? Is the AI singularity about to happen?
Going from past history the main function will be better porn. We'll know QC is a real thing when the first game comes out - perhaps Sims Q?
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Old 30th October 2019, 05:45 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
Going from past history the main function will be better porn. We'll know QC is a real thing when the first game comes out - perhaps Sims Q?
Well I would consider all the exotic ways to torture Sims on a quantum computer to be a rather dark matter. Personally I would wait for the quantum foam party and schrodingers cat pet expansion packs to come out in a bundle first.

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Old 30th October 2019, 09:10 AM   #28
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A new blog post by Scott Aaronson, "My New York Times op-ed on quantum supremacy" (https://www.scottaaronson.com/blog/?p=4400).

It, and the NYT piece, adds more explanations and details. And the comments too!
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Old 5th November 2022, 07:11 AM   #29
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Interesting analysis from an actual scientist:

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"The Quantum Hype Bubble Is About To Burst" (Sabine Hossenfelder)

The video description has links to some of the articles and resources mentioned in the video.

The quantum hype cycle, revisited (physicsworld)

The quantum computing bubble (Financial Times)

Quantum Computing Hype is Bad for Science (Professor Victor Galitski via Linkedin)

Quote:
Crazy headlines abound: "quantum computing will change life as we know it," "quantum computing will solve global warming," "Quantum computing will revolutionize science and industry," etc etc. These statements are not based on any research or reality at all, they are not even wishful thinking. The number of known quantum algorithms, which promise advantage over classical computation, is just a few (and none of them will "solve global warming" for sure). More importantly, exactly zero such algorithms have been demonstrated in practice so far and the gap between what’s needed to realize them and the currently available hardware is huge, and it's not just a question of numbers. There are qualitative challenges with scaling up, which will likely take decades to resolve (if ever).
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Old 6th November 2022, 02:08 PM   #30
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No they aren't

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