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The development of the quantum computer is progressing in an unexpected place

Microsoft and Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs are ahead of universities and other research centers in the development of qubits - the basis of the quantum computer, but even their quantum computers are not yet controllable * Other companies in the race are IBM and Google

A quantum computer. Illustration: shutterstock
Quantum computer. Illustration: shutterstock

Since physicist Richard Feynman proposed the idea of ​​quantum computing in 1982, theorists have demonstrated that such a device could solve problems that would take even the fastest conventional computer hundreds of millions of years, if not longer. Quantum computers could enable the development of innovative medicines or efficient solar collectors and improve artificial intelligence.
The MIT's technology review website recently published (October 10) the reviewer's article AA. The development of the quantum computer at Microsoft.

The review shows that somewhat surprisingly, the two leading companies today in the research and development of quantum computing units (called qubits) are Microsoft (basically a software company) and Bell Laboratories, which is currently owned by Alcatel-Lucent, where the first transistor model was developed at the time and its scientists won Nobel Prizes , but since then these have decreased in size.

The main problem is to have sufficient control over the physics of these qubits for them to be used as the basis for a practical general computer. The unit developed by Microsoft and Bell Laboratories is called the Topological Qubit, and is based on the movement of unique particles called Majorana Fermions, which are also their own antiparticles. The existence of these particles was predicted theoretically by the Italian scientist Ettore Maggiore in 1937, and was apparently confirmed experimentally for the first time in 2012 and again in 2014.

Uncertainties in Microsoft's research are very large. Even if the existence of the above-mentioned particles is proven beyond any doubt, there is no proof that they can be controlled in the way that the developers of the Topological Qubits assume. But, the potential of a quantum computer, if it is built and operates in the format that is currently being planned (Microsoft has already established a team to develop algorithms and software for such a computer, at least for the first version), is enormous: using simulations in the field of chemical engineering and materials engineering, which nowadays also require a lot of time on supercomputers, And of course, it is hard to imagine where such a computer will bring the field of artificial intelligence for example.

In the review, the author, Tom Semonet, details the state of the latest developments of quantum computers: IBM is developing qubits made of circuits made of superconducting metals, but according to the editors of the review, the error rate is too high to run them together as a useful computer. Microsoft is building a new type of topological qubit that in theory could be more reliable than others. Where it may fail is that the existence of subatomic particles used in the qubit remains unproven. Even if they exist, there is still no second evidence to control them. Alcatel-Lucent offers Microsoft-inspired qubits based on a different material, but the reason for possible failure is the same as Microsoft's.

Another company that develops and even claims to sell quantum computers, although for dedicated mathematical calculations, is D-WAVE SYSTEMS, whose computers are based on a 512-qubit superconducting chip, but according to the editor of the study, it is still not clear whether the chips actually take advantage of quantum effects. Google has been experimenting with D-WAVE computers since 2009 and recently opened a lab to develop a similar chip.

Udi Lam participated in the preparation of the article


More on the subject on the science website

11 תגובות

  1. A qubit in superposition is a huge improvement in the unit of information but is still far from being artificial intelligence.

  2. Hello my father,
    I didn't understand why scientific technological development that happens in companies that develop software and hardware is an unexpected place. The Internet was invented by the American army, email by a stock exchange and technology company for everything, the same for flat TVs such as plasma LCD and LED. For many years now, companies have been competing for the greatest minds against the academy and in many cases have been successful.

  3. On a parallel topic of neurons, in terms of chips, IBM released the Dor neuronal chip in SYNAPSE, and a new neuron software NEURO with objects that are neurons. There is no doubt that this is where the industry

    Compared to generation A, generation B has 2,000,000 neurons, 100 times more.
    If there are such leaps forward we will reach the amount of neurons in a human brain.
    The new processor excels in computer vision, machine learning and much more.
    It performs all operations with low power, on the order of 40-100milli Watt.

  4. Honorable Mr. Harte, something about infinite calculation, thought can theoretically think and arrive at infinite things, there are computers that can already really think, and regarding the future development - it is theoretically possible with time reversals to bring the result back in time as well and you can in a certain sense call it some kind of infinite calculation.
    Respectfully blowing water

  5. I have heard about D Wave for a long time and they already claim that they have done much more than what the university does, and they even sold to Lockheed Martin and Google computers. Their site even has an Api for developers. I have no idea if they are real or not, to what extent they are a sin and to what extent they are real science, and if they are real science how did they succeed so much where many have failed?

  6. I didn't understand how a quantum computer could help us in the development of artificial intelligence, according to what I understood a quantum computer is good for problems where you can place before it the entire collection of options for a certain problem and then it "collapses" to the correct answer (for example the prime number is all large in a range of numbers defined for it) , I don't understand how such a course of action advances us towards artificial intelligence.

    At the moment the most promising direction in my opinion is the simulation of neural networks, which is done for example in the human brain project.

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