World’s first on-chip quantum computer! Oh wait…

So I opened my freshly delivered copy of this month’s Physics World and began to mull over the articles whilst enjoying a Kitkat. On the first page I found an piece about Ion Trap quantum computing proclaiming that “Researchers in the US claim to have created the first small scale device that can perform all the steps needed for large-scale quantum computation” referring to NIST’s latest ion trap chip.

You can read about it here:
Scalable ion traps for quantum information processing

Here is the PhysicsWorld web version of the article:
Tiny device is first complete ‘quantum computer’

Haven’t superconducting flux/charge qubits have been able to do this for ages – what’s all this ‘first’ business? Besides, didn’t Yale do something similar a few months back? Oh no, wait a minute, they actually ran an algorithm…
And that’s without even considering the advances in AQC, hmmm.

Anyway, that didn’t bother me too much. But then the article goes on to say:

“The implication was that quantum computers could operate at ultra-high speeds, which could be applied to solving complex problems like cracking some of today’s most widely used encryption codes.”

Is that the BEST application you can think of to run on a QC? Really? Come on… Get creative! Who cares about cracking RSA anyway? They’ll just keep adding more digits 😉

In fairness the magazine also had quite a nice article about the violation of Bell’s inequalities and some of the potential loopholes in those experiments. Which made me happier.


3 thoughts on “World’s first on-chip quantum computer! Oh wait…

  1. Mike says:

    I’d be curious about what you thought would be some more far out uses of quantum computers (especially with regards to transhumanism). It is a subject I am interested in, but I haven’t found that much information on more speculative proposals.

    The quantum neural networks sounds intriguing. That may be something I’ll have to look into and do a post about

    • physicsandcake says:

      Quantum Neural Networks are pretty far out 🙂 They haven’t really been experimentally realised yet, although it is something I’d love to see done (or work on myself).

      I think the proposals you mention will become more than speculation when we get some quantum hardware to play with. I can see this happening in the next 5-10 years. So at the moment people are just throwing ideas around, as we don’t yet know what the limiting factors will be (we don’t even know if there is a fundamental mass limit to the number of quantum objects you can put into a superposition of states, for example).

      As far as quantum computing+transhumanism goes, I think the first thing to do is to get any QCs we build straight down to solving some current problems faced by biologists and geneticists: Problems such as the handling and sorting of large data sets and pattern matching within those data sets. Perhaps molecular simulation, although again that is quite an advanced concept. I can see great advances in these fields as a result. I think after that we should tackle AI and machine learning.

      I’d be happy to talk more about these things, feel free to drop me an e-mail or something.

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks for answering. I’ve been trying to learn more about quantum mechanics and quantum computers lately. Its very helpful to know what to look out for.

    I notice your following my twitter account. I’ll have to follow yours on my other account.

    I also recommend this article by the philosopher David Pearce on Quantum Ethics (below), assuming you haven’t seen it yet. It deals with quantum mechanics and transhumanist themes.

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