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Oct 24, 2019 07:58 AM EDT

Google Claims Top Spot in Tech Supremacy Race with New "Quantum Computer"

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Google announced that it has created a machine that needs only 200 seconds to solve a problem. The speed achieved by the computer represents a breakthrough called "quantum supremacy." According to Google's blog post, this state-of-the-art computer is countless times faster than the world's fastest supercomputer to date.

One huge difference is that normal computers use data that exist in only one state at a time. Quantum computers use quantum bits called "qubits", which can simultaneously be any combination of zero and one. This means superfast processing speeds. The new discovery heralds the birth of "Quantum Computers", which can store and process much more information than usual.  It utilizes principles of the powerful forces contained in the field of physics known as Quantum Mechanics.

As a result, Google will now build "a fault-tolerant quantum computer" as soon as possible. The company sees potential to use the quantum computer in designing lightweight batteries for cars and airplanes, as well as in research for new medicines. The blog post wrote, "Achieving the necessary computational capabilities will still require years of hard engineering and scientific work. But we see a path clearly now, and we're eager to move ahead."

However, Google was criticized by some experts and rival companies after the results of the speed experiment were leaked online ahead of the official publication date. IBM said in a blog post that Google had overestimated the difficulty of the computing task. IBM argued that the problem could be solved by a classical computer in just 2.5 days as opposed to Google's blog post that old computers can solve it in 10,000 years in comparison with their new quantum computer.

"We urge the community to treat claims that, for the first time, a quantum computer did something that a classical computer cannot with a large dose of skepticism," IBM contradicted.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai defended the company's claim in an interview with MIT Technology Review, comparatively saying, "The first plane flew only for 12 seconds, and so there is no practical application of that. But it showed the possibility that a plane could fly."

Google's claim to quantum supremacy is further expressed in a blog post which says that the speed on computational creativity provided the point of reference for the experimentation for the improvement and further increase in the computing paradigm. The blog further says, "To our knowledge, this experiment marks the first computation that can only be performed on a quantum processor."

Some researchers have warned against sensationalizing the claims on quantum supremacy. They are arguing that it does not suggest that quantum machines will quickly overtake classical computers.

While other prototypes of so-called quantum computers do exist, developed by companies ranging from IBM to start-ups such as Rigetti Computing, they can only perform the same tasks at quicker speeds like classical computers. The claim to a superfast quantum machine is yet to unfold according to Google's rivals. 

China is now leading the way in the development of quantum computers for military use. The United States is allegedly trying to catch up, which sparks speculations that there is a quantum arms race between both countries.

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