Google Quantum Computer Is So Fast It’s Scary

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

A quantum computer

What’s faster than a supercomputer? A Google quantum computer, that’s what. As reported by Science Alert, scientists trailblazing in the strange world of quantum computing just ran a number-crunching test with the Sycamore quantum computer. It accomplished in seconds what it would take the Frontier, the world’s most powerful supercomputer, 47 years to complete.

Google’s quantum computer is now the most powerful machine in existence and it’s just getting started.

The test used random circuit sampling, a synthetic benchmark that measures how fast the quantum computer can take readings from random quantum processes. The team estimated how quickly the world’s fastest supercomputer could do the same thing, and the difference was staggering.

If you are reading this with a friend and nodding, pretending to understand, you’re not alone. The Google quantum computer uses processes related to fields like matrix theory and quantum chaos – not exactly light reading.

The first thing to know about quantum computers is that they have nothing to do with Ant-Man. Machines like the Google quantum computer process information by utilizing processing happening at the quantum level. They operate in the realm of probabilities under a paradigm totally different from traditional computers.

Quantum computer

Instead of operating on a system of bits, quantum computers use qubits, which can simultaneously represent a 1, a 0, or both. If this all sounds finicky, you are right. The Google quantum computer can only operate in specific conditions and is subject to error thanks to quantum noise.

However, this unavoidable system frailty is being illuminated as tests continue.

While some argue that the random circuit sampling success of the Google quantum computer is not a fair benchmark because it is a totally impractical application, the folks behind the controls on the machine are asserting that the future is quantum.

The field is young and still a long way from where it needs to be, but researchers are calling the latest milestone in quantum computing the clear indicator that quantum supremacy is imminent, if not already here.

It is not likely that your laptop in 10 years will be a Google quantum computer, but the technology does hold promise for large-scale applications, such as cybersecurity, energy storage, artificial intelligence, weather forecasting, and more.

Google quantum computers will eventually change everything, but it’s still a long way off.

The technology is not even close to being scalable, but the field is moving fast. A computer doing in a few seconds what another would take nearly half a century to achieve is a mind-boggling idea. It is too abstract to truly grasp the gravity of it, but the comparison makes one thing clear: the Google quantum computer is going to change the world.

How long until quantum computers become common?

When that change will arrive is still a mystery. Scientists have debated for years about whether or not quantum computers could ever become a viable alternative to traditional computers. The field is fuzzy and challenging to grasp, but continued experimentation is unraveling the mysteries of quantum mechanics.

It may not be an Ant-Man computer, but the Google quantum computer might be the next step toward a more high-tech future. As quantum technology advances alongside artificial intelligence and alternative fuel, there is no telling what the world will look like in mere decades.

If the researchers at Google have anything to say about it, the future will be quantum.