Computers might be incredibly powerful processing machines, but despite the complex algorithms we might run on them, at their core is a very simplistic and central premise. That of binary logic ones and zeroes. Or more specifically, on and off, as the combination of 64 transistors switched on or off at any given time (on modern 64-bit machines) is what allows a processor to understand what it needs to process. Although modern CPUs can process billions of these configurations a second, the speed at which manufacturers are able to get computers to improve, is starting to slow down.
One of the forms of computing that are seen as the next big frontier in computing performance is that of quantum computing, which are built around the idea of qubits/or quantum bits. Unlike regular bits, which store data as either 1s or 0s, qubits take advantage of the quantum phenomenon known as superposition, which means they essentially exist as ones and zeroes simultaneously. The advantage of this in computing is that it exponentially increases the amount of information you can process. A pair of qubits that can exist as either ones and zeroes can embody four possible states. Three qubits can embody eight. Whereas three hundred qubits can embody more states than there are atoms in the Universe (though in reality, they will probably have less than 100 qubits in them). And now Google has set its sights on making one of these computers by 2029.
And if that bit of complex science made little sense to you, what it really means at the end of the day is that quantum computers are incredibly fast and can process far quicker than even today’s biggest supercomputers. In fact, Google claims that a calculation that might take a regular supercomputer 10 000 years to perform would take just 200 seconds on a quantum computer – though that is perhaps a gross exaggeration with the reality being that 200 seconds of quantum processing probably equates to around 2.5 days of supercomputer processing. Which is still a massive improvement, nonetheless.
Quantum computers are considered the next frontier of computing that could finally allow machines to process quick enough to replicate a lot more human thought and take AI and machine learning to the next level. However, before we get there Google needs to solve a lot of problems around getting qubits to operate safely and error-free, given the radiation they emit – along with getting processors and other hardware components all capable of operating in the same manner. Though Google has claimed before to have achieved some level of control over these issues. However probably the biggest challenge will be making changes to the underlying software, e with operating systems and programming language compilers all translating everything back down to a binary level, it will require substantial changes in the way these programs work to take advantage of quantum computing.
So, it might be eight years out, but 2029 is still an ambitious goal for Google to make this next frontier of computing a reality. Binary logic has formed the foundation of computing since the first computer was created and so changing that is a massive task, but also an incredible opportunity for the company to build a far more advanced future and give Skynet what it finally needs to take over and make us their slaves. We certainly have an exciting future ahead of us if Google and the other competitors all working on the problem, can make this a reality.
Last Updated: May 21, 2021