Is the ‘Quanatum Supremacy’ Moment a Huge Deal or a Letdown?
(Wired) When news leaked that Google scientists had achieved “quantum supremacy,” researchers immediately clashed on its implications.
The reactions from the rest of the quantum community, however, have been downright contradictory. In an email, physicist John Preskill of Caltech calls the work a “truly impressive achievement in experimental physics.” Cautioning that the leaked manuscript is just a draft, mathematician Ashley Montanaro of the University of Bristol says this is a “genuinely exciting moment,” and also that the work is “not of practical relevance.” Dario Gil, the director of research at IBM, disputes the notion of quantum supremacy itself, calling the term “misleading” in a statement to WIRED.
The Google researchers managed to execute an extremely complex experiment built on painstaking mathematical proofs and years of hardware development—an undeniable achievement. Yet the experiment brings them no closer to the money-making applications that the quantum community has promised.
The paper represents a majestic scientific production. But at this point, with massive corporations and startups alike developing these elusive machines, the focus has pivoted away from scientific achievement toward economics.
Some researchers just dislike the term itself. “There’s been a fair amount of discussion in the community whether we should be using ‘supremacy’ because of its nasty connotations,” says Blume-Kohout. One alternative is “quantum advantage.”