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WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF

Googles D-Wave quantum computer breaks the speed barrier and leaves everything else in its dust.

 

Google announced a breakthrough in the field of Quantum computing on Wednesday. The company thinks it’s found a quantum algorithm that solves problems 100 million times faster than conventional processes. If confirmed, this discovery could not only lead to iRobot style artificial intelligence but also advance the US space program by light years.

 

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Back in 2013, Google and NASA went halvsies on a $10 million D-Wave X2 computing system which is supposedly the world’s first functional quantum computer – although experts both inside and outside the company have never been able to conclusively prove that the machine actually taps into the quantum realm to produce its calculations. That is, until now.

Google’s announcement Wednesday centers on “quantum annealing“, a technique that determines the global minimum for a given function when presented with a set of potential solutions. In English, it figures out the best, or “most efficient,”way to complete a task when given a set number of options. Scientists have been working on quantum annealers for a while now, though the two primary techniques, “simulated annealing” and “Quantum Monte Carlo” are both just simulated systems running on conventional hardware. The D-Wave system, on the other hand, is hard coded to run the quantum annealing algorithm on its quantum array and it’s that that makes the difference.

 

googlequantum

 

The company recently tested the new QA algorithm in a proof of concept trial against a conventional system running the simulated annealing and Monte Carlo methods and the results are more than impressive. As you can see from the graph above, Google’s method beat out the other two easily, solving a function with 1,000 binary variables a 100 million times faster.

 

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That, however you argue it, is game changing.

Google qualified these results as “intriguing and very encouraging” in its announcement but admitted that they still have a long way to go before the technology is ready for the consumer market.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, CNBC, Discovery, RT, and Viacom, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.

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