I mentioned the silly Nature letter, and now here is a WSJ Editorial (unpaywalled here):
Achieving Quantum WokenessWe could rename the Supremacy Clause to be the Trump Clause!
Political correctness barges into a computer science breakthrough.
Two months ago researchers at Google published a paper in Nature saying they had achieved “quantum supremacy.” It’s a term of art, meaning Google’s quantum computer had zipped through some calculating that would take eons on a classical supercomputer.
Don’t you see the problem? “We take issue with the use of ‘supremacy’ when referring to quantum computers,” as 13 academics and researchers wrote last week, also in Nature. “We consider it irresponsible to override the historical context of this descriptor, which risks sustaining divisions in race, gender and class.”
The word “supremacy,” they claim, is tainted with “overtones of violence, neocolonialism and racism.” They lament that “inherently violent language” already has crept into other scientific fields, as with talk of human “colonization” or “settlement” of outer space. These terms “must be contextualized against ongoing issues of neocolonialism.” Instead of “supremacy,” they suggest using the term “quantum advantage.”
There it is, folks: Mankind has hit quantum wokeness. Our species, akin to Schrödinger’s cat, is simultaneously brilliant and brain-dead. We built a quantum computer and then argued about whether the write-up was linguistically racist.
Taken seriously, the renaming game will never end. First put a Sharpie to the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which says federal laws trump state laws. Cancel Matt Damon for his 2004 role in “The Bourne Supremacy.” Make the Air Force give up the term “air supremacy.” Tell lovers of supreme pizza to quit being so chauvinistic about their toppings. Please inform Motown legend Diana Ross that the Supremes are problematic.
The quirks of quantum mechanics, some people argue, are explained by the existence of many universes. How did we get stuck in this one?
I would agree with this editorial, except Google did not really build a quantum computer. The whole point of its using the word "supremacy" was to convey a superiority that was not really there.