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back to article Quantum computing IN OUR LIFETIME - IBM breakthrough

IBM boffins reckon their research has catapulted quantum computing forward a few decades, making it possible within our lifetime. The scientists say that they've come up with a way to extend the amount of time that qubits retain their quantum state, thereby reducing errors in computations. “In the past, people have said, maybe …

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Coat

IBM was presenting the results at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Boston today

And simultaneously, through the magic of quantum entanglement, at the North Polar Jupiter Rularian Institute for Extreme Cleverness.

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Someone's been reading Smith lately...

I'm surprised Arisia wasn't contacted for discussion...but they probably already knew, and you know how they are. Now if we could just wrap our heads around the idea of neutralizing inertia...

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Happy

Re: Someone's been reading Smith lately...

If you find a way to neutralise inertia, ring me, and I might even get up to answer the phone.

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JDX
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If you believe in the Singularity, virtually everything we're working on now will happen in our lifetime.

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Ru
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There are precious few things that were a) possible and b) actually being worked upon during the first half of the last century that were not achieved by the end of that century. Fusion is one exception.

If you believe in the singularity, you should probably notice that you are in one now.

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Re: Fusion is one exception

A decent route into space is another.

Artificial intelligence.

Cure for cancer.

Civilised international relations. (Does that fall foul of (a)?)

You quibble with "working on", but just because they were barking up the wrong tree shouldn't disqualify their efforts, otherwise you have a tautology. I think "precious few" is overdoing it.

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Headmaster

Re: Re: Fusion is one exception

Actually, cure for cancer isn't a real thing. Cancers are very different from one another, and it's impossible to find a silver bullet that will kill them all.*

I'd say we've made some damn good progress on this front, though.

* I really hope I'm wrong about this.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Fusion is one exception

Probably not: Cancer is actively seeking for ways to adapt itself, work around the treatment and then kill you in a messy way - just when you were feeling better and begin to think the treatment is working. Evil, that is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: Re: Fusion is one exception

well its not a silver bullet but its certainly not impossible to cure especially if as Ken Hagan said we dont find A decent route into space.

you/your descendants might not like the cure OC as it means the sun incinerating the planet or a rouge planetoid,asteroid, black hole, lethal gamma burst, etc etc is a mathematical certainty at some point but any one of these or countless others will cure the cancers and ills we suffer today and the universe can get on with its entropy business as usual.

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Flame

A cure for all cancers?

Fire. Lots of fire. Might harm the patient slightly, but there won't be any cancer left...

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JDX
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Re: Re: Re: Fusion is one exception

Nanobots/nanotech could be a silver bullet - program the same tech how to deal with different cancer types (or other bad cells/tissue).

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TRT
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That sounds like a computer so vastly superior, so amazingly intelligent that it could prove the existence of income tax and rice pudding before it's even been switched ON!

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Happy

Amazing...

but will it keep my ice cream from melting on a hot day?

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Happy

And could even give the answer to the ultimate question of "Life, the Universe and Everything!"

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More to the point, could it give the question to the ultimate answer?

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Whats the story?

They've done something "thereby reducing errors in computations.". But theres still errors. What have they cracked exactly?

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Holmes

Re: Whats the story?

"...found a way to extend the quantum coherence of the qubits by up to 100 microseconds, two to four times greater than previous records"

Which means that they managed to have the qubit not leak information about its current state of superposition (aka. its current wavefunction) into the surrounding system (the "observer") for > 100 μs (i.e. avoid it getting "measured"). Apparently at that point you can do quantum error correction (I suppose, something that keeps the quantum state of interest in its superposition. like a sacrificial anode keeping a ship's hull from rusting)

[Mr. Holmes comes nearest to the pipe-smoking, tweed-jacket-with-leather-elbow-patch-wearing professor, so there...]

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Once we (as the species, not implying I am in any way involved in the process) have quantum computers working perfectly and processing data at speeds we can barely imagine... what will we actually do with them?

Weather pattern projections maybe. What applications are there for this sort of thing. I feel like I'm being really dim, but i cant think of anything much at all that would make it worth the effort of inventing it lol

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Boffin

If we can't think of anything to ask them, we just need to ask them what the question should be. Once they've had a good think and come up with a question, we can set them to work on the answer. Because doing it the other way around would be crazy.

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Go

>processing data at speeds we can barely imagine

Unfortunately, the space of NP-hard problems *will* stay out of reach. You will have P plus a few extra tendrils that become practical (as far as we know).

But you will be able to at least build efficient simulators of quantum system.

This should open a lot of doors in material science, possibly in experimental mathematics.

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Yeah see, i demonstrated my lack of knowledge on the subject by asking a question and what you did was come over here waving around some experimental mathematics thats is blatantly way beyond my level of understanding.

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Pint

>lack of knowledge

Don't be bashful. It just means "to all evidence, problems that are hard to solve for a classical computer will STAY hard to solve on a quantum computer (more generally, mother nature won't hand you over the keys to the car no matter what) except for some niche stuff like factorization - and simulation of physics"

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Facepalm

What to do: Next weeks lottery numbers and kill more people faster - obviously.

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In theory they can be used for simulating quantum systems such as molecules, which would bring great advances in chemistry and medicine. Unfortunately the research into this application is only preliminary since the vast majority of funding has been focused on breaking public key cryptography. The ethical implications are one of the reasons I got out of the field.

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TRT
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They can also use it to crack current cyphers which are based on, e.g. factoring very large numbers. And other hard maths.

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Alert

Factoring products of large primes

Shor's algorithm has been run on an early quantum computer to factor 15. RSA probably aint been broken yet, and when it is we'll probably not know about it until those who are not called NSA or GCHQ can afford to buy these things.

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Headmaster

Re: Factoring products of large primes

"[...]until those who are not called NSA or GCHQ can afford to buy these things."

I think you mean "permitted" to buy.

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TRT
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Re: Factoring products of large primes

Well, Sir Clive Sinclair made a Quantum computer years ago. With little whirry tape cartridges and everything.

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A common misconception

Assuming a working quantum computer could be built today and that something similar to Moore's law will drive increases in speed and complexity, it would still be a few decades before any existing systems (e.g. 4096 bit RSA) are threatened - and by then, we'll doubtless be using new, improved cryptographic methods.

Much more at:

http://emergentchaos.com/archives/2008/03/quantum-progress.html

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Other problems

like how to get it to make the hostess' underwear disappear and reappear three feet to the left?

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SB

yeah but

can it play crysis on ultra settings ?

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As far as I can tell, we already have quantum computing: the things change their behaviour dependent on whether you're looking at them.

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Joke

All jolly clever

but will it be linked to the interweb by Schroedinger's cat5?

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Many years ago....

someone from IBM predicted that the world would need just 4 computers. It looks like they are still working on that assumption.

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Re: Many years ago....

That was T.J. Watson, Sr., himself, I believe (otherwise, it was Jr.). Maybe he wasn't thinking very clearly at that time.

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Joke

Re: Many years ago....

Ah, but Watson was right! Bureau computing, where other companies buy time off the computer owner was the obvious way to go at the time, and we're moving back to that model with cloud computing...

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RCA

I believe we will get the hardware right sometime,

But I don't trust software! The human factor in software, soon with so much computing horsepower, will enable coders to get real sloppy and get away with it -- for a while.

Imagine running the Star Trek Enterprise, with the entire control systems crashing, rebooting, needing new drivers and anti-virus software. Mal-ware and ad-ware popping up everywhere, with very little consequence to your system resources. Heck, a glitch in the holideck may get you killed!

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Quantum software

may or may not work. By definition.

So no changes there then.

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Anonymous Coward

@Andrew James

Think how much data is gathered and analysed every day. Google, Investment banks, protein modeling.....

You might not like some of the applications but you can be sure there will be a LOT of money involved in the outcomes.

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Re: @Andrew James

Imagine how quickly the banks could destroy the world as we know it if they could calculate things at these speeds.

And google, the restraints upon their evil would just fall away.

Facebook would be able to update my status without my input too, so thats good. I wouldnt need to put any effort into letting my family know how i'm doing. Qubits = psychic, right?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Re: @Andrew James

Hence: "You might not like the applications"

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Terminator

Re: Re: @Andrew James

The banks are already running on quantum money - The "assets" are right there in the accounts, but when one decide to measure it: PooF -> Instant insolvency. MFGlobal evaporated all of the clients collateral while at the same time not triggering a margin call.

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Happy

Re "... what will we actually do with them?"

Two words - Starship HoloDeck

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RE: I believe we will get the hardware right sometime,

>Imagine running the Star Trek Enterprise, with the entire control systems crashing, rebooting, needing new drivers and anti-virus software. Mal-ware and ad-ware popping up everywhere, with very little consequence to your system resources. Heck, a glitch in the holideck may get you killed!<

It does that every week, as soon as someone makes the camera wobble propulsion lights life support power and the captains personal replicator always go offline, sometimes it does it without anyone doing a thing, however the difference is, they always fix it in the last 5 minutes ( well 15 with commercials) if only real life problems were like that.

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Paris Hilton

What will we do with them?

Based on current computer applications:

Porn.

FPS games

Pirating movies/music

Oh, and maybe some other stuff for .001% of the time. ;-)

Dave

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Pirate

Re: What will we do with them?

Mapping the grumbleplex?

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Anonymous Coward

Well, you could crack RSA or the DLP...

Hopefully the world's banking systems and the 'Net wil have switched to something unaffected by QC by then.

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Re: Well, you could crack RSA or the DLP...

"Hopefully the world's banking systems ... will have switched to something unaffected by QC by then."

They already have systems that are unaffected by Quality Control.

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Anonymous Coward

Deep thought

I've never been an early adopter. I prefer to wait until the bugs have been ironed out. So I'll probably hang on for the successor; a computer whose merest operating parameters the Quantum computer will not be worthy to calculate.

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skynet++

A puter powered by the underlying force that controls the whole universe.. what could possibly go wrong ? Assuming we aren't in a singularity.. inside another singularity.

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