Google may have achieved quantum supremacy

Sep 30, 2019 | 108 views

Google has published a study paper on NASA's website that has moved the computing world in recent days. The document (which has already been removed) said that a quantum processor created by the company was able to perform in three minutes and 20 seconds a calculation that, on today's most powerful computer (IBM's Summit) would take about 10,000 years. This case, in which a quantum device can do a better job than a "normal" one, is called "quantum supremacy."

From bits to qubits
Current computing uses bits (the classic 0 or 1) to store or process information within the machine. Quantum uses qubits (or quantum bits) as a measure. The main difference is that qubits can "fit" in a number of ways between 0 and 1, which significantly increases the amount of information that can be processed by these machines.

For example, while two bits can only display one type of information at a time, two quantum bits are capable of expressing four states at a time. But not everything is a joy in this processing format: because it is still quite experimental, qubits only work under very strict conditions (such as temperatures well below -200 ° C) and yet can only perform very specific tasks.

Progress is quantum but turtle-like steps
As you read the news about a machine that can do this mammoth amount of calculations, it is common to think that we are very close to a reality where these machines can handle both mathematical questions and analyze bodies as small and complex as molecules. But while this future is a possibility, it is still far from being concrete.

According to journalist Ryan Mandelbaum explained in a text to the American magazine Wired, the quantum computers available today can be compared with the machines that existed in the 1950s: expensive, gigantic and capable of performing few tasks and extremely limited.

Like any advance, this achievement needs to be celebrated by the possibilities it opens, but it will still take at least a few years for science to be able to control and use this type of computing in a more controlled and efficient way.