I think this is a pretty big deal. A 16 qubit quantum computer ready for commercial applications is about to be unveiled in Mountain View on Feb 13 by D-Wave Systems. Why is it a big deal? The current progress of computing power is based on the architecture designed by the Hungarian physicist John von Neuman. Moore’s Law, the consensual engineering roadmap predicted speed of this progress correctly for the last 30 years. Many have been saying that this progress would become unsustainable. Some have been saying that it would increase, that we would see an acceleration of progress in computing power. So here we are. To double the power of a von Neuman architecture computer you need to double its speed, memory, number of circuits, let’s say in general its bits. To double the power of a working quantum computer, based on qubits, you need to add just one more qubit… a linear increase in the complexity of the system is the basis for an exponential growth in power. But we already have an exponential growth in the complexity of the system. What we obtain compounding the two exponentials, is an increasing acceleration, in the increase of computing power!
When I read “The Fabric of Reality” by David Deutsch, the awesomeness of this scenario was apparent, but it came so quickly…
(Hat tip to Howard Lovy for the scoop!)
- how much money could you afford not to pay for a system like this, if you were the NSA, and were worried by the new BitLocker technology that encrypts the data on hard drives of the new Microsoft Windows Vista Business and Ultimate editions?
- how quickly will banks start to protect their transactions via quantum encryption as in a few year’s time quantum botnets will routinely crack any traditional one?
- are there fields of our reality excempt from the radical change this brings?