If all goes according to the plan, tech giant Google might be able to present the world with a phenomenally powerful quantum computer by the end of 2017.

Googler John Martinis and his team of researchers have been working on how quantum computers could be worked out for a long duration of 30 years. And now, it seems, they're finally on the verge of making the wonder computer a reality. Since the computer would harness the unusual properties of quantum physics that take birth in extreme circumstances like those on the ultra-cold chip, the wonder computer would allow a Google coder to run the calculations he/she requires in a short interval of time like in the duration of a tea/coffee break. This would be quite impressive as the supercomputers of today would take millions of years to run the same calculations. This means, the quantum computer would be able to outperform conventional computers—a concept known as quantum supremacy. But, the Google software, which has been developed on ordinary computers to answer questions or drive cars, is still capable of becoming more intelligent. In addition to all this, various out-of-the box ideas currently at their nascent stages at Google and its parent company Alphabet, such as the software capable of conversing at a human level or robots acting as emergency responders, might just get real, all thanks to the wonder computer.

Quantum computing's theoretical underpinnings are already well established. Physicists can build qubits, the basic units, out of which a quantum computer can be developed. But, till now, they haven't been able to make a quantum computer that is fully functional.

John Martinis is no stranger to the field of Quantum Physics. In fact, he is considered quite a legend for he and his team has been successful in demonstrating some of the most reliable qubits that there are, and has even been able to get them to run some of the code a quantum computer would require for functioning. Martinis joined Google in the year 2014 after much deliberations with the tech giant. Martinis was optimistic that with the tech giant's support on its side, its technology could hit the maturity stage faster than it would have independently.

Many experts call the bond of Google and quantum computing a bond made in algorithmic heaven. Off late, the company which was initially founded with an aim of commercialising an algorithm for ranking pages on the web, has been making a move towards developing an Artificial Intelligence software capable of learning to understand images or languages, steer a car through a busy road, or perform some basic reasoning- all of things that are still a huge task for today's conventional computers but would be a matter of a few seconds for their quantum counterparts. Google's Sundar Pichai recently informed its investors about the tech giant's plans to dive into machine learning, a core, transformative way through which it is re-evaluating and re-thinking how everything is being done at Google. Supporting the tech giant's this effort would be one of the first tasks that Martinis' new quantum industry will have up its sleeve.

It is interesting to note that till a few years ago, the prospects of a quantum computer doing anything useful were zero to none. D-Wave Systems, a Canadian startup, did manage to sell a few units of what it called "the world’s first commercial quantum computers” but has unfortunately not been able to get the confidence of industry experts. Things changed when NASA summoned some journalists to its Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California where Hartmut Neven, the man heading Google's Quantum Artificial Intelligence lab which it established with an aim of experimenting with the D-Wave machine, launched the first real evidence that it has what it takes to offer the power proponents of quantum computing had initially promised. The superconducting chip placed inside D-Wave’s compute -- called as a Quantum Annealer -- had successfully performed almost 100 million times faster than a conventional processor in a carefully designed test. But, such an advantage should be made available in practical computing tasks, not just be restricted to contrived tests. This is where Martinis and his team step in and take the vigil of quantum computing forward.

Google will face tough competition not only in whatever improvements Neven will able to make in D-Wave, but it will also have to compete with the likes of IBM and Microsoft, which have their own quantum computing projects underway. The one advantage that Google has over them is that while its competitors are focused on designs which are much further away from becoming practically useful, John Martinis' quantum computer might be ready by the end of next year.

[Top Image - Shutterstock]

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