Before we get into the technical jargon of modern artificial intelligence and Google’s “quantum supremacy” We have to understand everything that has led up to the point of our computing modern devices – here is a breakdown.
Early computing systems
One of the first computing methods, existed multiple centuries ago. Around 400 BC, counting rods were used, by eastern Chinese mathematicians to represent integers. To represent, ( whole numbers ) and real numbers ( values that can be expressed as a fraction of two integers – A/B – e.g. 2.5 = 5/2 and 0.333… = 1/3 ). You most likely don’t think of this as an example of computational ideas.
However, it shows how society has developed from simple uses to networks of values and prices and businesses. Soon, we realised, there is a lot of potential for this method of manipulating numbers. So, we needed to come up with faster methods of crunching numbers. As ink and paper just weren’t cutting it anymore. The need for faster calculations led to the development of the abacus, the first human computer calculator.
The value of modern computing, comes from the background of the instructions. You can increase the complexity of the task you give them. If the task, can be abstracted into simple steps, the computer won’t see the difference in complexity of what it has to perform. Bear in mind a computer has to have the computational power to process the extra information in a feasible time. Here is some information on the way computers process data and instructions.
Even though I've just told you that computers can process almost any task that is given to it, there is a fatal flaw in the modern computers design.
Computers don’t have the intuition to find ways to solve problems themselves, but they are great when it comes to the speeds of calculations in terms of how to solve the problem. Artificial intelligence is able to adapt to a change in environment to be able to keep doing tasks.
Consider the line AB. So, what would happen if we asked a computer to follow this path but we placed an obstacle in the middle, well it wouldn’t be able to. On the other hand an AI would move around the object to get to B. The truth is, you and me don’t require given instructions to complete tasks, we make the instructions ourselves – using human intuition. Therefore, humans built artificial intelligence to mimic this trait.
If you thought that after AI no other computing development could be better than Combining almost instant calculation speeds of a computer with the adaptability and problem solving skills of the human brain
– You would be wrong.
Introducing THE quantum computer:
In layman’s terms a quantum computer not only can use 1s and 0s as inputs it can use a third input of 1 and 0 ( which is the third state that exists for the smallest objects of our universe) this is where the name “Quantum” comes from. The third states relies on the principle of uncertainty of knowing the state of an object before it has been observed, a famous example of this, in culture is schrodinger’s cat.
Quantum computer makes use of the subatomic particles to store information, with bits turning into qubits. For further information on the structure of the quantum computer click here.
Don’t worry if you don’t understand how a quantum computer works, even quantum physicists don’t understand! – ” I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” (R. Feynman).
Introducing google’s quantum computer:
Google’s quantum computer computed an insanely complex mathematical algorithm in 3 minutes and 20 seconds. It might be slow, but google say the IBM’s supercomputer the (former) fastest supercomputer in the world would have taken 10,000 years to solve the same algorithm.
Furthermore, the human brain would have taken more than a million years to solve the same algorithm. Now you can see the power that can be extracted from these resources.
GREAT! now all we need to do is give everyone one of these and we will all have a better standard of living. Wait, not so fast. There are a few complications around that.
However, the downside is, google’s quantum computer is so expensive, and complex that no more can be made right now. And for the superconducting chips to work, they need to be kept at -200 degrees – basically needs the right environment. Even if they were mass produced, no one would have any use of it.
Quantum computers can only perform extremely specific tasks, that you and me would have no interest in doing. Your computer would actually be better at normal browsing of the web and running video games than google’s quantum computer.
So, for right quantum computers is a nod to the future of computing. and the direction we are currently going with tech.