Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Science news is about what is being hyped

Scott Aaronson answers the annual Edge question:
2015 marked a turning point. For the first time, the most hard-nosed experimentalists are talking about integrating 40 or more high-quality quantum bits (“qubits”) into a small programmable quantum computer—not in the remote future, but in the next few years. ...

They’ll suffice to disprove the skeptics, to show that nature really does put this immense computing power at our disposal ... And if quantum computing turns out not be possible, ...
So quantum computing has still not been proved possible, but hard-nosed experimentalists are talking about it, and that is exciting.
Gordon Kane on how the big news is that the LHC should soon see superparticles. (This would actually be fine except that Kane omits the crucial context, that he’s been predicting superparticles just around the corner again and again for the past twenty years and they’ve never shown up)
Just as the quantum computing folks have been predicting quantum computers for 20 years and they've never shown up.


  1. There is a dimension to this that you are missing. Quantum computers are for people that can't develop intelligent algorithms. I can't think of anything practical that can't be done on present computers with a graphics card. Amhdal's law limits parallelism and MIT just demonstrated AI that can learn from single examples. Speed will not replace intelligence. For instance, the Julia language showed there was no trade-off for high-level programming, if coded CORRECTLY. In addition, code can explode to tens of millions of lines (not just inlining) when a few megabytes would do.

    Alan Kay Exposes Modern Bloatware

    Julia Schools the Nerds

    These idiots can't even use Lazy Clause Generation in constraint solvers and people like Peter Stuckey (NICTA) can't get talent interested because everyone thinks there will be a future quantum genie. I can solve almost anything I want in MiniZinc or with numerical methods such as the finite element method. As a matter of fact, if you don't want absolute perfection, then the sky is the limit.

    When you are trying to do so much brute force computation, you are doing it wrong. Anyhow, I sure I won't be able to buy my own quantum computer to do ray tracing for a video game.

  2. That's right. The main application for quantum computers is to break encryption, and this has negative public utility. It would just make communication more expensive and difficult.

    1. But they can't even break all encryption! Wiki on lattice-based encryption methods: "Many of them are quite efficient, and some even compete with the best known alternatives; they are typically quite simple to implement; and are all believed to be secure against attacks using conventional or quantum computers."

      Here is a java library: http://gas.dia.unisa.it/projects/jlbc/