Buckle up, because we’re about to get down with Google quantum supremacy! It was recently announced – or better yet, leaked – that Google managed to achieve this so-called quantum supremacy. And you’re probably wondering what that means. And exactly how this can potentially relate to events. Well, lately, we’ve been taking a look at the broader technological landscape and bringing you the scoop. And, of course, diving into what these things mean to the events industry.
So, on this week’s episode of Event Tech Podcast, we’re breaking down the Google quantum supremacy news. Join our amazing hosts, Will Curran and Brandt Krueger, as they take you on a scientific adventure through this magical and complex world. Press play, and join us on the quest to achieve supremacy!
Google Quantum Supremacy Explained
Look, we get you – what does Google quantum supremacy even mean? But Brandt and Will are right there with you, which is why everything is laid out. “So it’s not like an advertising branding thing. It’s not something that Google just made up. It’s a legitimate engineering term”, Brandt explains. “A quantifiable thing that is backed up by engineering. And so it’s a silly term, but it’s a quantifiable, actual term used to describe in quantum computing”.
In order to understand what Google quantum supremacy actually means, we need to talk about quantum computing. “So the idea behind quantum computing, the big term that you want to understand is this idea of the qubit”, says Will. “And the idea behind a qubit is: a traditional bit is zero or one. And that’s that binary one or zero. It can be one of those two states. So on or off. Well, a qubit can be both simultaneously, a one and a zero. So it is like on and off at the same time. It’s almost like Schrodinger’s cat”.
“And that’s why it’s quantum physics”, adds Brant. “And so quantum physics, things get really weird when you get down to the subatomic level. When you get down to the quantum level. And without getting too technical on it, states of matter get a little fuzzy, whether or not things are positive or negative, get a little fuzzy. And so these computers involve enormous amounts of coolant, cooling things down. They run at a gajillion bazillion degrees below zero, where things get weird”.
Getting Down To The Nitty Gritty
“But either way, all of the things, all of the technology that we have; laptops, cell phones, satellites, all the way up to the most powerful supercomputers in the world. They are based on this zero and one technology. And so they’re limited by this zero and one technology. In the end, when you break it all down through all the programming languages and you get it all the way down to the bare bones, it’s zeros and ones, zeros and ones”, he continues.
“So this idea of these qubits is, it’s more than double because of the way this works. So instead of being a zero or a one, it can be a zero and a one. That’s two states of matter. Then if you add a second one, you’ve got four states. And so it’s logarithmic, where it gets more, and more, and more, the more of these you add. And it’s infinitely more than these traditional bits of on and off. So the supercomputer that they made, that Google has made, is a 54 qubit Sycamore processor. So it’s got 54 of these qubits”.
Google Quantum Supremacy Is…
“And so, let’s cut to the chase”, Brandt concludes. “So it’s a gazillion, gagillion, bazillion calculations being able to be performed in a very short amount of time. And so, what they were able to do was to perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years. And so it’s not just a little bit faster, it’s not just significantly faster”.
Google Quantum Supremacy Rubs IBM The Wrong Way
“Obviously the fastest supercomputer in the world is run by IBM”, explains Will. So obviously, they were taken aback. “I saw an initial report that was basically implying that it was just a branding term”, says Brandt. “But it’s not. It’s an actual legit, quantifiable thing. They didn’t just pull that term. But the more specific claim that they’re saying now is, “Well, if you had a lot more storage capability, so basically if you had really big disc drives, you’d be able to achieve this same thing without using a quantum computer.” Okay. That doesn’t, however, discount the fact that they did it with a quantum computer”.
“So I think the exciting thing about this is that they’re calling this like the Hello World moment for computing”, says Will.”And this idea that this is a big breakthrough for computing. So I’m going to get this out of the way by saying that we’re probably never going to get to actually see one of these computers for a long period of time. Similar to the discussions we had about 5G and maybe the future of virtual reality, and augmented reality, this is a little bit further off”. So it will probably take quite a few decades until you can get to the nearest Walmart and get yourself one of these.
Can Someone Call Security?
“So as we start to look at this, being able to perform ridiculously fast computations initially is going to do with things like cryptography”, says Brant. “So having things protected by secure cryptography. Our bank being able to connect to our banks, being able to connect to these things. If quantum computing gets involved and you’ve got to know that governments are going to be working on this as well, all of those are going to go out the window. So you would be able to, instead of having a password that was 16 digits long, being able to be hacked in 10,000 years, it’ll be cracked in a matter of seconds”.
“So not going to be a huge deal in the near term. But anything that’s using some of these older encryption patterns would be able to be cracked in just a second”. But don’t despair! Brandt adds that “newer levels of cryptography are starting to take this into account and people are actively working on ways of getting us away from passwords”.
Google Quantum Supremacy Equals Power
“So just like we know that’s the way the original computers started as we used them for math and calculating things. And so it’s increased processing power. As this starts to filter down, as this technology starts to filter down to universities, to corporations. And being able to do things like machine learning and AI with that tremendously increased speed it’ll be able to chew through a dataset in nothing. Like a ridiculously complicated dataset like weather patterns and all of that kind of stuff where you have to take in so many different factors”, explains Brandt.
Brandt believes Hollywood also has quite the opportunity here. “The processing power and memory that are used to create current, modern, big-budget CGI effects are ridiculous. And so as that starts to filter down as well, that will get cheaper and easier and faster as well. And so what they will be capable of doing will be ridiculously detailed, ridiculously accurate 3D models”.
Predicting Where Google Quantum Supremacy Will Lead Us
Will has an interesting theory that “eventually, we’re going to get the point where computer processing doesn’t happen in the device. But instead in like a server farm similar to the Stadia stuff that’s going on. Where you can, instead of playing video games on a crazy PlayStation, it’s played on a server room made by Google and it streams to your device. But I think with quantum computers initially, that’s going to be the thing, is that we will use quantum computers, but remotely”.
“Yeah, we’ll be going back to the ages of the early computing where you would have a remote terminal and the remote terminal would connect to the mainframe. And all the calculations and stuff would happen on the mainframe and we’re going to go back to that”, adds Brandt. “All of the major platforms are playing with this. Google is not the only one. Sony’s there, Microsoft is there. They’re all playing with it, so it’s going to be one of those things that it’s going to absolutely get there”.
And that does it for this week’s episode of Event Tech Podcast! So, do you feel like you can explain the concept of Google quantum supremacy at your next family dinner? And are you excited to see where this will lead in 50 years? Either way, we hope you enjoyed today’s edition of tech talk. Don’t forget to tune in next week for more!