Alphabet subsidiary Google published a paper on October 23 entitled ‘Quantum Supremacy Using a Programmable Superconducting Processor’ which describes the recent, successful conclusion of a ‘quantum supremacy’ experiment using its quantum processor called ‘Sycamore’.
Google claims that the findings from this experiment represent “the first experimental challenge” against the ‘extended Church-Turing thesis’. One of the problems of this however, is that it becomes highly difficult to verify the results of this experiment without comparing to the results of comparable ‘quantum processors’.
According to the primary report, the machine was recorded to have performed a ‘target computation’ in 200 seconds, that would have taken “the world’s fastest supercomputer” 10,000 years to replicate.
“The Sycamore quantum computer is fully programmable and can run general-purpose quantum algorithms.
Since achieving quantum supremacy results last spring, our team has already been working on near-term applications, including quantum physics simulation and quantum chemistry, as well as new applications in generative machine learning, among other areas.”Google statement
Sycamore is comprised of 54-qubits. A qubit is a measurement of processing power and represents a radical change to traditional binary measurements due to a phenomenon specific to quantum physics called ‘superpositioning’.
In traditional computer logic: integers are processed by as either a ‘1’ or a ‘0’. Quantum processors see a combination of both, as well as either, instance being true simultaneously. This results in exponential increases in processing speeds, as promised by ‘quantum computers’.
Other key entities developing its own quantum computing projects include: IBM, D-Wave Systems, Microsoft, Intel, and various governments worldwide. Blue chip competitor IBM has refuted the claims made by Google in its announcements and paper through a blog post – in which it stated:
“that an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity.
This is in fact a conservative, worst-case estimate, and we expect that with additional refinements the classical cost of the simulation can be further reduced.”
Quantum computing could have a significant impact on the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain, much as it will to all areas of technology: both emerging and established. It could contribute to a massive reduction in the energy consumption attributed to the resource-intensive mining activities required to maintain Proof-of-Work networks, for example.
It might also bring an elevated requirement of security preparation and response capabilities, as the threats posed by bad actors with computers (such as independent and state-related hackers, thieves, etc) will also increase exponentially. Especially if, or when, quantum processors become commercially viable.