Blitz, by artist Tom Estes
Google has officially announced that it’s achieved quantum supremacy in a new article published in the scientific journal Nature. The announcement comes exactly one month after it initially leaked, when Google’s paper was accidentally published early. Now, however, it’s official, meaning the full details of the research are public, and the broader scientific community can fully scrutinize what Google says it’s achieved
Google researchers state in the paper that their 54-qubit computer, known as Sycamore, is able to conduct a task in 200 seconds that would take around 10,000 years on a traditional system. That would mean the calculation, which involved generated random numbers, is essentially impossible on a traditional, non-quantum computer.
“This dramatic increase in speed compared to all known classical algorithms is an experimental realization of quantum supremacy for this specific computational task, heralding a much-anticipated computing paradigm,” the researchers write in the newly published paper.
“As a result of these developments, quantum computing is transitioning from a research topic to a technology that unlocks new computational capabilities,” the researchers conclude. “We are only one creative algorithm away from valuable near-term applications.”
The company now hopes to build a system that can conduct more broad operations, which could be used across a variety of different fields.
Despite IBM’s attempts to downplay Google’s achievement, many in the research community welcomed the news, with scientists quoted by The New York Times likening Google’s breakthrough to the Wright brothers’ first plane flight in 1903. We may still be years away from having quantum computers that are useful for practical tasks, but Google’s findings could finally have provided proof that such a future is possible in the first place.