Google claims to have clocked “quantum supremacy”, which isn’t about hyperspace so does it even matter

The tech corp has confirmed that it has managed to solve a calculation in just over three minutes that, until now, would’ve taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years – but what does this mean for food replicators or self-wiping toilets or, uh, bitcoin? Not much.

Published in scientific journal Nature, the report by Google’s engineers explains that using the company proprietary 54-qubit (that’s a thing) Sycamore processor, the team was able to “sample one instance of a quantum circuit a million times” in “about 200 seconds”. This otherwise unprecedented experiment did not, however, open up a new dimension or invent laser blasters.

IBM was even less impressed, alleging that Google’s operating procedures “failed to fully account for plentiful disk storage” and that, actually, “an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity”. Not the same thing, though, but “the world’s most powerful supercomputer” cited by Google is IBM’s, so it’s also about egos the facts or whatever.

“As a result of these developments, quantum computing is transitioning from a research topic to a technology that unlocks new computational capabilities,” Google concludes. “We are only one creative algorithm away from valuable near-term applications.”

But, like, what exactly? Because if those don’t include flying cars, I’m going to be very disappointed.



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