From Science magazine:
From hot silicon-dot qubits to ion traps, scientists are working on innovative ways to build more complex and powerful quantum computers that could potentially deepen our understanding of complex molecules, crack encryption algorithms, make capital markets more efficient, accelerate the development of better batteries, and even realize the promise of strong artificial intelligence (AI).
Have we achieved quantum computing supremacy? Google thinks so. On October 23, Sundar Pinchai, chief executive officer (CEO) of Google, an American multinational technology company with headquarters in Mountain View, California, published a blog post trumpeting the triumph of the company’s researchers in building a quantum computer that “performed a test computation in just 200 seconds that would have taken the best known algorithms in the most powerful supercomputers thousands of years to accomplish.”
In a separate post on the Google AI Blog, John Martinis, chief scientist of Quantum Hardware, and Sergio Boixo, chief scientist of Quantum Computing Theory, Google AI Quantum, said their goal is to build a fault-tolerant quantum computer as quickly as possible. They envision such a quantum device as being capable of spurring advances in materials design that could lead to new lightweight batteries for cars and planes, more effective medicines, and better catalysts for producing fertilizer more efficiently with fewer carbon emissions.
Details of Google’s computational feat prompted immediate pushback from other heavyweights in the quantum computing field such as IBM, an international technology company headquartered in Armonk, New York, which suggested that an ideal simulation of the same computational task on a classical system could be accomplished in just a couple of days and with much greater fidelity. IBM also critiqued Google’s use of the word “supremacy” and reiterated its vision of quantum computers and classical computers working together in a complementary way.
In any case, quantum information science (QIS) finds itself in the spotlight once again. As David Awschalom, physicist and quantum engineer at the University of Chicago, in Illinois, puts it, “Quantum information science uses the properties of nature at the smallest scales to create a meaningful technology.” The U.S. government has recognized the value of QIS with a National Quantum Initiative Act, which aims to accelerate quantum research and development for both economic and national security purposes.