Friday, May 17, 2013

Quantum Computing Skeptic...

Scott Aaronson doesn't think we're likely to see practical quantum computers anytime soon – if ever.  The rash of recent news concerning the D-Wave company and their claims of working quantum computers drove Scott to comment publicly (for the first time in a while) and even to talk with some reporters.  The reporters all want to know, basically, why he remains skeptical when big businesses (can you spell Google?) and government (uh oh) are spending millions of dollars on D-Wave machines, and have announced spectacular results.  Scott's awesome response:
My reaction, I confess, is simple.  I don’t care—I actually told them this—if the former Pope Benedict has ended his retirement to become D-Wave’s new marketing director.  I don’t care if the Messiah has come to Earth on a flaming chariot, not to usher in an age of peace but simply to spend $10 million on D-Wave’s new Vesuvius chip.  And if you imagine that I’ll ever care about such things, then you obviously don’t know much about me.  I’ll tell you what: if peer pressure is where it’s at, then come to me with the news that Umesh Vazirani, or Greg Kuperberg, or Matthias Troyer is now convinced, based on the latest evidence, that D-Wave’s chip asymptotically outperforms simulated annealing in a fair comparison, and does so because of quantum effects.  Any one such scientist’s considered opinion would mean more to me than 500,000 business deals.
Read his entire post for a (much) more detailed D-Wave takedown...

I don't understand enough about quantum computers to have an informed opinion on their plausibility.  But I have seen hype before, and I have personally witnessed hype completely overwhelming any semblance of reality.  Anybody who lived through the dot-com bubble and was at all observant can say the same thing :)

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