Saturday, June 20, 2015

Quantum computers attract commercial interest

The British Economist magazine is enthusiastic about quantum computing:
After decades languishing in the laboratory, quantum computers are attracting commercial interest ...

By exploiting certain quantum effects they can create bits, known as qubits, that do not have a definite value, thus overcoming classical computing’s limits.

Around the world, small bands of such engineers have been working on this approach for decades. Using two particular quantum phenomena, called superposition and entanglement, they have created qubits and linked them together to make prototype machines that exist in many states simultaneously. Such quantum computers do not require an increase in speed for their power to increase. In principle, this could allow them to become far more powerful than any classical machine — and it now looks as if principle will soon be turned into practice. Big firms, such as Google, Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Microsoft, are looking at how quantum computers might be commercialised. The world of quantum computation is almost here.

Ready or not, then, quantum computing is coming. It will start, as classical computing did, with clunky machines run in specialist facilities by teams of trained technicians. Ingenuity being what it is, though, it will surely spread beyond such experts’ grip. Quantum desktops, let alone tablets, are, no doubt, a long way away. But, in a neat circle of cause and effect, if quantum computing really can help create a room-temperature superconductor, such machines may yet come into existence.
No, this is crazy. No one has overcome any classical computing limits, no quantum computers are being commercialized, and there will not be any room-temperature superconductor.

There are many other technologies that are being commercialized after decades of languishing in the lab. Self-driving cars. Image identification. Voice recognition. Natural language processing. Robots.

In each of those areas, steady progress is being made. There are prototypes that qualify as a proof of concept. There may not be agreement about how far the technology will go, but it is obvious that commercial applications are coming.

Quantum computing does not qualify. There are lots of experiments that qualify as interesting tests quantum mechanics. But there is no prototype that exceeds any classical computing limits, even on a small slow scale.

Most of you are going to say, "Why should I believe some stupid blogger saying it is impossible, when lots of smart people say this technology is coming, and they are backed by a lot of big money?"

There is no need to believe me. Just tell me how long you are willing to wait. What will you say if there is still no prototype in 2 years? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years?

This is the biggest research scam I've seen. String theory and the multiverse are scams, but at least those folks do not pretend to have commercial applications. There have been lots of over-hyped technologies before, such as fuel cells and hydrogen economy, but those are at least technological possibilities. There is never going to be a quantum computer that out-performs a Turing machine.

1 comment:

  1. "This is the biggest research scam I've seen."

    Even bigger than K. Eric Drexlers definition of nanotechnology where he shrinks mechanical engineering into a bazillion robots working in parallel to build nanofactories? Seems to me, two papers by Feynmann are responsible for quantum computing and drexlarian nanotechnology research but Feynmann doesn't get any criticism for that. I

    The condensed matter physicists seem to make a big deal of 'emergence' too, basically stating that increased computing power will not lead to better understanding of quantum many-body systems.