Quantum computing has long seemed like one of those technologies that are 20 years away, and always will be. But 2017 could be the year that the field sheds its research-only image.I am predicting that none of these groups achieve quantum supremacy in 2017, but the year will end with everyone predicting it for 2018. And that pattern will repeat for a few years.
Computing giants Google and Microsoft recently hired a host of leading lights, and have set challenging goals for this year. Their ambition reflects a broader transition taking place at start-ups and academic research labs alike: to move from pure science towards engineering.
“People are really building things,” says Christopher Monroe, a physicist at the University of Maryland in College Park who co-founded the start-up IonQ in 2015. “I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s no longer just research.”
Google started working on a form of quantum computing that harnesses superconductivity in 2014. It hopes this year, or shortly after, to perform a computation that is beyond even the most powerful ‘classical’ supercomputers — an elusive milestone known as quantum supremacy. Its rival, Microsoft, is betting on an intriguing but unproven concept, topological quantum computing, and hopes to perform a first demonstration of the technology.
The quantum-computing start-up scene is also heating up. ...
Academic labs are at a similar point.
Whereas classical computers encode information as bits that can be in one of two states, 0 or 1, the ‘qubits’ that comprise quantum computers can be in ‘superpositions’ of both at once. This, together with qubits’ ability to share a quantum state called entanglement, should enable the computers to essentially perform many calculations at once. And the number of such calculations should, in principle, double for each additional qubit, leading to an exponential speed-up.Scott Aaronson likes to say that this explanation is wrong, because quantum computers do not necessarily get an exponential speedup.
These articles do not even cite any skeptics anymore. There is a consensus. They are so far committed that I expect them to refuse to admit that they have been proven wrong for about ten years after they have been proven wrong. And I predict that they will be proven wrong.