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Asia Times Interviews Scott Aaronson: Have the Chinese Demonstrated ‘Quantum Supremacy’?

By IQT News posted 23 Dec 2020

(AsiaTimes) Asia Times’ Jonathan Tennembaum interviews Scott Aaronson here. This is a lengthy interview and worth the time to read. The back and forth between Tennembaum and Aaronson summarized here.
The first question is whether the Chinese demonstrated “quantum supremacy.
Aaronson epxlained, “The Chinese system is a fully characterized system. So the Chinese team can and hopefully will publish a complete description of everything they did. And then they can say to any classical skeptic, OK, then you try to reproduce the results with your classical computer. Here is all the data that you would need to do that. And the hope is that you will have a hard time doing it and that the reason that you’ll have a hard time is not any complicated details of the experiment. But it is really the exponentiality that is inherent in quantum mechanics. I would say if that is really the case, then it is fair to call this quantum supremacy.
Tennembaum asks about applications: “I understand that there could be a relatively direct application of the Chinese sort of system to calculating certain spectra in chemistry.”
Aaron said that =. .. is not ruled out. Another potential application is something I came up with a couple of years ago, which is generating cryptographically certified random bits, which you could then use for various applications including cryptocurrency. Basically, once you have quantum supremacy based on a sampling problem, you can almost immediately repurpose it for that application.”
During the interview, Aaron says he is optimistic that within the next decade we could start to see the first applications of small-scale quantum computers that are actually useful.
Aaronson pointed out that “One of the attacks that was proposed against Google’s experiment was to say: If you use a gargantuan enough supercomputer, like IBM’s Summit computer, which has petabytes of hard disk, then you could just explicitly calculate the entire distribution, all nine quadrillion probabilities using two basketball courts’ worth of hard disk.. . it would take maybe a few days to do that computation. . . it is just within the limit of being able to do.”
He concluded, “If the Chinese experiment achieved quantum supremacy at all, then it would be beyond that limit. Even the biggest supercomputer on Earth would not have nearly enough disk space to write down the whole distribution.”

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