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Google To Partner With Award-Winning Quantum Computer Researchers

September 3, 2014
Image Credit: Thinkstock.com

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online

One of the world’s largest consumer technology companies is entering into the quantum computing market, as Google announced this week that it plans to team with researchers at UC Santa Barbara to build processors based on superconducting electronics.

The Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab, which was launched by Google in May, is operated out of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffat Field, California and uses a quantum computer from D-Wave Systems to study the application of quantum optimization to difficult problems in artificial intelligence. The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is also a project partner.

On Tuesday, Google Director of Engineering Hartmut Neven confirmed that John Martinis and his team at UC Santa Barbara were also joining the research project. Martinis, who was recently presented with the London Prize for his work in quantum control and quantum information processing, and his colleagues “have made great strides in building superconducting quantum electronic components of very high fidelity,” Neven said.

“With an integrated hardware group the Quantum AI team will now be able to implement and test new designs for quantum optimization and inference processors based on recent theoretical insights as well as our learnings from the D-Wave quantum annealing architecture,” he added, noting that they would continue to work with D-Wave scientists and planned to upgrade their “Vesuvius” machine to “a 1000 qubit ‘Washington’ processor.”

According to Reuters reporters Subrat Patnaik and Arnab Sen, while Google is best known for its work on search engines, mobile device technology, self-driving cars and robotics projects, the Mountain View, California-firm has also been increasingly interested in the field of artificial intelligence – even going as far as acquiring AI startup DeepMind Technologies Ltd in January to gain an edge in the burgeoning field.

GigaOM’s Derrick Harris explained that even though Google is not yet severing ties with D-Wave, it ultimately is planning to develop their own quantum computing hardware. After all, he explains, “the company has long designed its own servers and switches, and is pushing an artificial intelligence agenda that includes smartphones, robots and driverless cars. If Google, or anyone, is going to solve the very hard AI problems these technologies present, they probably can’t sit around and wait for someone else to build the right systems for them.”

“Both the UCSB and D-Wave systems require cooling to nearly absolute zero, or minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit. But there are some technical differences,” added Don Clark of the Wall Street Journal. Earlier this year, Martinis and his associates published research featuring “a five-qubit array that showed advances in correcting certain errors that can occur during the fragile conditions that create quantum effects.”

Martinis told Clark he is hopeful the new project will produce technology that “will not lose its memory” as quickly as earlier hardware, and that he expected his team would actually benefit from Google’s affiliation from D-Wave. “We view this as a complementary approach to what D-Wave is doing,” he explained.

The ultimate goal in quantum computing is to develop machines capable of performing calculations millions of times faster than today’s computers by using qubits (quantum bits) instead of electrical transistors to represent the ones and zeros of binary computing, according to AFP reports. The news agency added that there are reports suggesting Microsoft is also exploring quantum computing technology.

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Schrödinger’s Killer App: Race to Build the World’s First Quantum Computer by Jonathan P. Dowling


Source: Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online



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