Google, NASA, and D-Wave show us the future with quantum computing

Google, NASA, and D-Wave show us the future with quantum computing
We are on the cusp of an evolutionary leap in our computers. Google, NASA, and D-Wave have come together to build the world's first quantum computers, and then solve one simple problem: What questions do we ask this computer? That's how early in we are on this. We know how to build the machine, but we don't quite know how to use it.

Quantum Computers


First of all, it is probably a good idea to give a very dumbed-down explanation of what a quantum computer is, because not everyone may be familiar with it. It its introduction video for the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, Google and company break down what a quantum computer is, why it is difficult to build, and why it is such a profound leap in computing. Basically, it is a primer on the basics of Quantum Theory, covering superposition (two things occupying the same space at the same time), entanglement (the connection between two objects that can be very far apart, the multiverse (parallel universes), and tunneling (traveling between those parallel universes). 

A computer has been built based on those principals, and to grossly simplify - current computers use a binary system where at the base level everything is either a one or a zero; with quantum computers the base level can be a one, a zero, or both at the same time. So, in addition to the standard binary bits, the computer also now uses quantum theory (entanglement, tunneling, etc.) to create a qubit which can be both a one or a zero at the same time. This is a seismic shift in computing and computational power. This one computer can solve more complex problems than all of the computers in all of Google's server farms around the world. This is big. 

The questions and answers


This computer and others like it will be able to solve extremely complex problems, like those that are generated from the flood of personal data that has come with the smartphone revolution. We are constantly documenting our personal worlds, tracking out travel, our health, and sharing it. We have GPS tracking wherever we go at all times. We have devices to constantly monitor our heart rate, oxygen levels, and more. We have our behavioral patterns tracked from where we shop, to where we hang out, and more. This is in addition to all of the other sources of data that had existed before like environmental tracking (weather, climate, sea levels, etc.), economic tracking (currency, stocks, goods trading, etc.), historical tracking (news and events), astronomical data (because this is a video about a partnership between Google and NASA, there is also the potential for answering questions about the universe itself. It could help in space exploration, in finding other sentient species on other planets, and much much more) and everything else. All of this is generating huge amounts of data, but that data is being somewhat wasted because we don't have the computational power to really dig into that data and find relevant information. 

This is going to be one of the first problems tackled by the quantum computer. The example given is for travel plans where you want to start in one location, visit 20 countries along the way, and end up in one final city. Right now, computers can compare flights to give you the best options in terms of distance, travel time, and cost. A quantum computer would be able to consider exponentially more options like weather along each potential route, the size of the plane, the amount of space you would have in your seat, the extra options available on each flight, etc. 

Linked to that, the other main aim of the quantum computer right now is in Artificial Intelligence (hence the name of the Quantum A.I. Lab). Because quantum computers can consider so many more factors all at the same time, its capabilities can start to rival that of our own brains. Current computers can do a lot of things really really fast sequentially, but our brains process immense amounts of data automatically what seems to be almost instantly. (For more on that, read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.)

So, for an example more tuned to our audience: this could be Google Now becoming sentient. Google Now is one of the best pieces of software to come out in recent history, but at its core, it is relatively basic - it gathers certain data from various Google properties and serves you relevant information. It serves your data back to you at the right time and in the right place without you needing to ask for it. But, a quantum computer would be able to more efficiently find the patterns and connection in the data as well as adding in all of the external data points that relate back. Extending the example from before, Google Now would be able to help you plan that trip with all of those factors taken into account, but it would also know that you have family or friends in different cities along the way, so maybe it organizes the flights to get you a few more hours in those places.

The future


That is just the basics, and the first simple problems that can be answered with a computer like this. Once we learn more about quantum theory, about the computer itself, and about the data that we have sitting around all over the world, we can start to come up with more intelligent, and more complex questions that need to be solved. The repercussions will be felt everywhere. 

Of course, this is just the beginning. Right now, there are only two quantum computers that have been built by D-Wave. As that technology evolves, quantum computers will be come cheaper and easier to build, and will eventually make their way into the hands of consumers. Given the exponential possibilities of quantum computers, its hard to even gauge how long that might take, but we will all be witnesses to this evolution.


source: Google (YouTube) & +Google Quantum A.I. Lab

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34 Comments

1. AfterShock

Posts: 4146; Member since: Nov 02, 2012

That is pretty kool. Go for the universe Google!

2. DaNTRoN

Posts: 135; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

Wow. The singularity is near. Watch 'Transcendant Man' and hold on folks.

3. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

What would be the final cost? By the sound of it, it doesn't seem cheap at all

4. Miracles

Posts: 560; Member since: Aug 31, 2013

A small step for Google/NASA, a giant leap for mankind. I don't see why they need D-Wave. A Canadian company?

9. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

They need D-Wave because THEY are the quantum computing company. The roles of the other two entities are secondary.

5. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

You don't know what questions to ask it? Have it figure out the cures for all illnesses that plague mankind.

25. illiad

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

many people are *already** doing this(well, the first steps), a faster/ better computer just makes it 'possible' in 100 years, not a 1000.. :P...... getting full info from decoding DNA, modelling how cells and viruses work, BUT... the slow work does not involve computing, but lots of testing, so we dont kill ourselves!!!

6. apple4never

Posts: 1064; Member since: May 08, 2013

seen this already, nothing new

7. DaNTRoN

Posts: 135; Member since: Jul 23, 2012

Can't tell if trolling....

8. tedkord

Posts: 17094; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

The answer is 42.

13. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Do you have your towel?

15. o0Exia0o

Posts: 903; Member since: Feb 01, 2013

+1000 to you good sir!

10. taikucing unregistered

too much cables & need big cooling system.

11. tttony

Posts: 29; Member since: Jul 22, 2012

When is for good things it will be always welcome, but I'm worried when are for bad things

26. illiad

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

the only thing bad is the USER, not the object...

12. twens

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 25, 2012

I know the right question to ask. How can we get up to a week battery life out of our smartphones? I wish my note 3 could last a whole week with a single charge.lol

14. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

Too easy. Screen brightness at 12%, no email accounts, turn off all radios, and only read books on it using an inverse (white text, black pages) lighting scheme.

16. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

"Too easy. Screen brightness at 12%, no email accounts, turn off all radios, and only read books on it using an inverse (white text, black pages) lighting scheme." Run on Airplane Mode defeats the purpose of having a cell phone. Just throwing that out there.

20. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

It was a joke. Just throwing that out there.

21. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

A pretty bad one if you ask me. Just stop while you're ahead.

31. Napalm_3nema

Posts: 2236; Member since: Jun 14, 2013

I find it amusing that nobody did ask you. I make it a point to disregard the advice of morons and fools, so I think I'll pass on yours.

18. yoshimitsu1234

Posts: 6; Member since: Dec 04, 2010

Google should charge Apple a premium for this.

22. Scott93274

Posts: 6025; Member since: Aug 06, 2013

Am I foolish to want to see some gaming benchmark comparisons for this computer? Though I doubt any current games are compatible with it.

23. GrapeEyes

Posts: 248; Member since: Sep 01, 2013

. I don't mean to cause alarm. But to my knowledge quantum computing started in the 70's and in the late 80's goverment agences stated that without information from the masses (world population) there will be no need for such a computer. So the distribution of computers/phones and of course access to the internet exploded. This allowed companies like Google etc.... to gather data and forward it to the relevant goverment agencies to test on these super quantum computers and gather data from all across the world. I am not saying it is a bad thing. But this is why your data is being collated from every internet website including facebook and twitter. Every phone call, text message, email etc.... It does sound crazy, but without that information, the quantum computer could never be really tested. This is just the beginning, the cracking of the DNA codes of all species on earth including humans and then the implementation of a nano chip imbedded into your brain at birth that will be connected wireless to a super quantum computer so every species on earth will be feeding immense information on a every level. I say within 30 years, you will be able to get information downloaded into your brain just like how you buy an app for your phone (a bit like the matrix, but no so dramatic). Robotics is just around the corner, I say about in 10 years. The police, medical, armed forces etc.... will be carried out by humans and robots, the security industry will change hughely with robots carrying out patrols around your business to make sure all is ok. Companies will develop incredible robots that will rent to you for using in your own house to do all sorts of choirs including babysitting :) I know this all sounds crazy, but so would trying to explain the internet to someone back in the 60's Change is truly coming. .

27. illiad

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

If that is true, WHERE is my flying car & hoverboard???? Its ok to dream, but the practicality is the problem... what happens if your brain is taken over by a computer virus????

29. GrapeEyes

Posts: 248; Member since: Sep 01, 2013

Anti-virus program.

30. illiad

Posts: 132; Member since: Feb 07, 2012

... and I have seen plenty that do not work, well past their expiry date, etc... the amount of PC's I have seen, that are limping along, and the owner cannot bear to get it serviced for fear of all their dubious stuff getting out... :/ I guess the GOOD bit about 'brain computers' is that the idiots will die off from a computer crash!!! :D :D

35. phonemirer

Posts: 111; Member since: Dec 07, 2012

you can try lucid dreaming, it involves the 5 senses but it is a bit difficult

32. harigrg33

Posts: 188; Member since: May 20, 2013

I cant believe I read this long comment....

34. phonemirer

Posts: 111; Member since: Dec 07, 2012

no, they want to kill us and control our minds, supressing free will, a drug can do that

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