That might not sound like much, but in the quantum computing arms race, several groups are edging past one another as they aim to eventually make a universal quantum computer. A group of researchers at the Joint Quantum Institute has created a quantum simulator using 53 quantum bits, or qubits. Earlier this month, IBM announced a 50-qubit prototype, though its capabilities are unclear. With this 53-qubit device, the researchers have done scientific simulations that don't seem to be possible
And so quantum computing, one of the jazziest and most mysterious concepts in modern science, struggles to come of age. It's been a century since scientists discovered that, on the most intimate scales, nature operates according to principles that boggle our poor ape brains. Randomness and uncertainty rule, causes are not guaranteed to be linked to effects, and an electron or other subatomic entity can be everywhere or nowhere, a wave or a particle, until someone measures it. Most of modern technology, from transistors and lasers to the gadgets in our pockets, runs on this quantum weirdness. Lately technophiles, politicians and journalists have been worrying out loud that China is pulling ahead in the effort to harness said weirdness for industry and power, better spying and better computing.
IonQ, a quantum computing startup, outlined a roadmap where it will be able to network smaller quantum systems together as it introduced a new metric, Algorithmic Qubits. For IonQ, the typical Quantum Volume metrics, introduced by IBM, isn't going to cut it in the long run. IonQ's take is that quantum volume as a metric will be unusable soon as quantum computers will have numbers too large to fit on a screen. In a blog post, IonQ CEO Peter Chapman said using Quantum Volume as a metric is like buying processors based on the number of transistors. Samsung's Catalyst Fund is an investor in IonQ.
Quantum computers take advantage of the weird mechanics of the subatomic world to quickly complete calculations that would stump even the most powerful supercomputers. Today's quantum machines are still largely experimental, but many experts predict that the quantum computers of tomorrow will have nearly limitless applications, helping us cure diseases, explore the cosmos, and harness the full potential of AI. The only thing more powerful than a single quantum computer would be a network of them, which is why the development of a quantum internet is also near the top of physicists' to-do lists. In the future, a quantum internet could be used to connect quantum computers located in different places, which would astronomically increase their computing power. It will convert digital data from one computer into signals that can be transmitted via optical fiber cables to other computers.
In 1981, nobel Laureate Richard Feynman challenged the computing community to build a quantum computer. We have come a long way. In 2015, McKinsey estimated there were 7,000 researchers working on quantum computing, with a combined budget of $1.5 billion.20 In 2018, dozens of universities, approximately 30 major companies, and more than a dozen startups had notable R&D efforts.a Now seems like a good time to review the business.