Google and Nasa have purchased a £10 million Quantum computer from D-Wave Systems, a Canadian company, which is the second computer they have sold, the first being to Lockheed. The system will be installed at a new laboratory which will be located at NASA’s Ames Research Center and is expected to go online in the third quarter of 2013. There have been no announcements to date about exactly what this research will entail and what exactly the role of the quantum computer will be, or for that matter what the hell a quantum computer exactly is!
I’m hoping that they are working on a Star Trek style device, you know the one “Computer! Reconfigure the phase of the inertial dampers to match the modulation of the incoming Dilithium matrix!” Yeah stick that in your voice recognition Siri! Well probably not, but if Google are involved you know that in a few years time the next generation will probably be taking Qbit computations in their stride, as ordinary as genetically modified Rhubanana Crumble. Joking aside, one thing we do know is that some focus of the research will be devoted to improving artificial intelligence algorithms so the above interactions with a computer may not be so far fetched as it seems.
So what is this quantum computing all about then? Well, in ordinary computing it all boils down to Binary data (Bits) that can represent 1 or 0 but with Quantum computing the Quantum Bits (Qbits) can represent two states simultaneously or 1 & 0 at the same time. To put it another way the two state on and off has a third potential state that is both on and off, how that is helpful I have no idea, it sounds like indecision to me, but everyone is saying it is the future so I will go with it.
If that doesn’t float your geeky boat then you may be glad, or suspicious, to learn that the US Government Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico have revealed that they have been successfully running a quantum internet system for the last two-and-a-half years. Quantum internet….? I have no idea what that means but you can read all about here.