I am a heretic. There, I've said it. My heresy? I don't believe that quantum computers can ever work.Not only that, he has co-authored Maxwell's fluid model of magnetism. He claims that physics went bad about 150 years ago, and some ideas that were abandoned then are really right.
I've been a cryptographer for over 20 years and for all that time we've been told that sooner or later someone would build a quantum computer that would factor large numbers easily, making our current systems useless.
However, despite enormous amounts of money spent by research councils and government agencies, the things are stuck at three qubits. Factoring 15 is easy; 35 seems too hard. A Canadian company has started selling computers they claim are quantum; scientists from Google and NASA said they couldn't observe any quantum speed-up.
Recently, the UK government decided to take £200m from the science budget and devote it to found a string of new "quantum hubs". That might be a bad sign; ministerial blessing is often the last rites for a failing idea.
So will one more heave get us there, or is it all a waste of time?
Scott Aaronson says that it is extremely safe to say that he is wrong, but is not able to pinpoint the error. Aaronson trashed some related work in 2013.
I sometimes get comments saying that mainstream physics has been wrong for a century or more. I don't know how to evaluation such claims. Science is never that completely wrong.
Anderson's theory seems to be some sort of hidden variable theory. I am persuaded that XX century quantum theory and experiments have ruled these out. So I do not see how he can be right.
Anderson is one of the world's experts on cryptographic security for banking and related industries. My guess is that he is frequently asked whether banks should use quantum cryptography, or worry about attacks from quantum computing. He surely comes to the conclusion, as do I, that both subjects are almost completely irrelevant to banking. Then he must be frustrated by bankers who doubt him because so many big-shots are over-hyping the quantum stuff.
I think that he is right that quantum computers will never work, and that failures so far give good reason for skepticism. I differ from him in that I doubt that there is anything fundamentally wrong with quantum mechanics.