(Gizmodo) Scientists and companies are racing toward a computing milestone dubbed quantum supremacy–when quantum computers will solve a problem too hard for a classical computer to take on. The first quantum supremacy demonstration will almost certainly be a contrived problem that won’t have a practical or consumer use. Nonetheless, it’s a crucial milestone.
“We’re about to cross over into a world where we’re doing something with quantum devices that we couldn’t do classically,” John Preskill, professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology who devised the term “quantum supremacy,” says. “We’re at a pivotal stage.”
Quantum supremacy, from a scientific perspective, is meant to give scientists a concrete way to determine what a quantum computers will and will not be useful for, and to compare them against classical computers. But a quantum computer worth getting excited about—or worrying about—should be better than regular computers doing the same task. That’s why scientists and companies, most notably Google, list quantum supremacy as a key milestone for their devices.