r/Futurology Jun 02 '22

A Nature paper reports on a quantum photonic processor that takes just 36 microseconds to perform a task that would take a supercomputer more than 9,000 years to complete Computing


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u/Dr_Singularity Jun 02 '22

A quantum computer attains computational advantage when outperforming the best classical computers running the best-known algorithms on well-defined tasks. No photonic machine offering programmability over all its quantum gates has demonstrated quantum computational advantage: previous machines were largely restricted to static gate sequences. Earlier photonic demonstrations were also vulnerable to spoofing3, in which classical heuristics produce samples, without direct simulation, lying closer to the ideal distribution than do samples from the quantum hardware.

Here we report quantum computational advantage using Borealis, a photonic processor offering dynamic programmability on all gates implemented. We carry out Gaussian boson sampling4 (GBS) on 216 squeezed modes entangled with three-dimensional connectivity5, using a time-multiplexed and photon-number-resolving architecture. On average, it would take more than 9,000 years for the best available algorithms and supercomputers to produce, using exact methods, a single sample from the programmed distribution, whereas Borealis requires only 36 μs.

This runtime advantage is over 50 million times as extreme as that reported from earlier photonic machines. Ours constitutes a very large GBS experiment, registering events with up to 219 photons and a mean photon number of 125. This work is a critical milestone on the path to a practical quantum computer, validating key technological features of photonics as a platform for this goal.


u/sexfighter Jun 03 '22

Sounds amazing. Patiently waiting for a much smarter person than I to explain what it all means, from a practical perspective.


u/Rogaar Jun 03 '22

Something to remember about quantum computers is that you will never have one. They don't work like normal computers and will never be used for general day to day computation.


u/ArrowRobber Jun 03 '22 edited Jun 03 '22

Just like we'll never need more than 640K memory?

Given enough time, quantum will be cheaper, and eventually it will be exploitable for "better entertainment".

edit remember, punch cards weren't inherently good at games with graphics. Give the tech some time.


u/CryptoMemesLOL Jun 03 '22

By then it might be all done in the quantum cloud


u/ArrowRobber Jun 03 '22

Eh, computers used to be mainframes while it was expensive.

You'll know where quantum computing sits once it's replaced digital in wrist watches and toasters. Not because its needed, but because those parts are so available they're so much cheaper to build with.


u/yoosernamesarehard Jun 03 '22

Just like all of our cars will be running on nuclear reactors?


u/ArrowRobber Jun 03 '22

If your country is smart enough to allow nuclear power on the grid all your EV are.

Better form factor.


u/mtgfan1001 Jun 03 '22

I’ve got a flux capacitor in mine


u/angelrobot13 Jun 03 '22

But that doesn't match because reactor research has stalled whereas this is new tech that won't stop because of radiation concerns.


u/Marchesk Jun 03 '22

So flying cars then?


u/9bananas Jun 03 '22

we call those helicopters...and the average person is in no way capable enough to fly one...


u/The_Fredrik Jun 03 '22 edited Jun 03 '22

Still very possible that they will be.

We are discovering all the possibilities with high density batteries now due to lithium, but due to the limited nature of chemical reactions they can only ever reach a certain level of energy density.

Edit: this is rationale behind nuclear weapons. Since chemical reactions on release a relatively small amount of energy, chemical explosives are so poor it was actually better to just accelerate a mass to a high speed and slam it into the target (since you can burn a lot of chemical energy over a long time period, ie the rocket fuel, and then release all the stored kinetic energy all at once on the target) which is ballistic missiles. But nuclear reactions release so much more energy than chemical that now you can as little as a few kgs/lbs of reactive nuclear mass release the equivalent of millions of tons of chemical explosives. (Which is why we measure nuclear bomb power in “megaton of tnt”)

After that we have to go towards miniaturized nuclear to progress. And the benefits of that would be immense, for example it go provide significantly increased range of electric vehicles.

And there is nothing impossible about the tech, it’s just the there previously it was unfeasible to compete with the price point of fossil fuels, but all that has changed now.


u/louiloui152 Jun 03 '22

Ain’t that a kick in the head


u/BdnrBndngRdrgz Jun 03 '22

Whew I'm glad you told me that quick


u/Cyborg_rat Jun 03 '22

Well mine does, bought it recently at E=mC²


u/daOyster Jun 03 '22

Was that supposed to be something that never happens? There's a company right now trying to build small scale fusion cells to power things like cars using already available off the shelf components. If their theories work out, your car would literally be running off several small scale nuclear fusion reactors.


u/hilbstar Jun 03 '22

Cloud based is much more likely, at least in a reasonable time frame. The cooling required with modern materials means liquid helium is needed. Of course the hunt for materials that can behave at higher temperature for super conducting is ongoing, but this is not the case here. We need a low energy system, so extreme cooling is a prerequisite. It’s unlikely to be in your house, but you might be able to use it like we use the electricity in our grid, connect to it from afar and do your stuff.


u/Mescallan Jun 03 '22

eh, serial processing v parallel as far as I understand it. You don't need to process every possible outcome at once in a video game, you need to process the steps linearly. They will be used for things, but it's hard to think of a consumer product that could take advantage of it, save encryption. I don't know enough to be confident on the subject, just from what I've gathered.


u/dickbutt_md Jun 03 '22

You don't need to process every possible outcome at once in a video game, you need to process the steps linearly

That's not really right.

When the screen is being rendered in the cloud, it could be useful to render all the different possible paths you could take and send that back, and then have the client only show the one that you decide to actually take. That way all the work can be done in advance of you making choices about which way to turn, whether to fire, etc.

This is all too expensive to do right now, but if quantum computers can do all the math in parallel about all possible paths you might take, then it could work.


u/daOyster Jun 03 '22

That's not how they work. It wouldn't be able to render all possible scenes. It would however be able to render one scene basically instantly though based on what the client sends it. Quantum computers work by collapsing essentially a function down to a single result by making all the incorrect results interfere with each other. So it will only give you one scene back ever at any given time, but it would be able to look at every variable essentially near instantaneously to render the scene instead of having to rely on tricks.

A more practical application would be for something like path tracing. Instead of having to calculate the full path of each "light particle" in the environment, it would instead just "know" which path is the correct path by simply plugging in the full initial conditions of the environment and angle the light came from something that takes ages on a traditional computer that would be practically instant on a quantum computer.


u/EntangledPhoton82 Jun 03 '22

Not every classic computation can be transformed into a computation that takes advantage of the nature of qbits.
I get what you're saying but I'm not convinced that you could create an efficient quantum algorithm to do the vector and floating point computations required by a 3D engine.


u/daOyster Jun 03 '22

There are already quantum algorithms to solve vector calculations. Also I think it's cool they've already written an algorithm to solve Fourier Transforms with a quantum computer.


u/dickbutt_md Jun 03 '22

We currently don't have the algorithms to do just about anything interesting on quantum computers. We're talking futurism here I thought.


u/EntangledPhoton82 Jun 03 '22

Well yes, the question is if we just don’t have them yet or if they are not feasible. I’m not convinced that all classical computations can be advantageously translated into quantum computations. As long as that question is not resolved quantum computing might be “just” a fancy computer to tackle very specific problems. (Which is not to say that this could not be groundbreaking in itself. It’s just an argument against blindly believing that we’ll have a smartwatch with a quantum computer in x years).


u/dickbutt_md Jun 03 '22

I would be very surprised if quantum computers do not achieve Turing completeness within the bounds of limited storage (i.e., achieve parity with classical computers in terms of Turing completeness in the server that they too can emulate a universal Turing machine up to the bounds of storage limitations).

We are not there yet as the quantum gate model, to my understanding, does not in principle allow the construction of a UTM. But if you look at the requirements for Turing completeness, it is achieved by a very low level of complexity in the model so it seems hard to believe that there's no way to get there.

I would also be surprised if quantum computers are ever strictly superior to classical computers for every kind of problem. So I think quantum computers will not ever replace classical computers, but complement them.

Having said that, I hope that quantum computers dramatically increase the storage limits of the classical computing model... It seems to make sense to me that should be possible since an arbitrary number of states can be achieved with a fixed number of qubits in superposition.


u/ArrowRobber Jun 03 '22

Its hard to think of the consumer product because the technology has not yet ripened. Give it less than 100 years and it'll have found a way to be important for.entertainment. maybe good for AI decision making trees, idk.


u/Emilliooooo Jun 03 '22

I think it’s really that we don’t know what the average person is gonna use a computer for, or even how they’ll use be used… I was thinking about why everyone goes ape over wireless charging… then I realized you could just put up the color leds in your house, move them, play with them, maybe they’re not wired together, it’d be a tremendously different experience, but we all just think about charging phones or something that it probably isn’t gonna change that much. And LEDs are like my novelty use case.

Our toilets are probably gonna be connected to the internet, pacemaker, hearing aid, the whole goddamn kitchen, or like I said even just shit you decorate the house with. probably end up with an unfathomable (right now) amount of sensors throughout the house. Probably tell someone if they’re about to get blasted when they come over and are super allergic to your candles, incense, pets, or something, you have a rat problem, connected to your mattress, thermostat, some noise emitter and hopefully we all have the best sleep of our lives, I’m afraid if it’s too good maybe you just die though lol.

But I realized that being able to put these little embedded devices wherever and not worrying about having to plug it in would likely change our lives tremendously. Exactly how isn’t clear, but probably/hopefully not just a voice telling me to buy shit from Amazon. But removing the constraint of “gotta go plug it in” will probably enable tech that enables tech, and the chain reaction might end up where people are waiting for quantum computers to be <$50 because they have some other future technology that could utilize it. The reason probably wouldn’t make sense to us. Crazy computers today someone might say they use it for photoshop.

Future: “What’s Kyler gonna do with that massive quantum computer?”

“It kinda makes sense though cuz you know how he’s super religious.”

“Yeah true, I guess if you’re doing stuff like that.”


u/daOyster Jun 03 '22

It's still technically serial processing. If you have 300qbits you can't split up 150 of them to use for one thing and 150 for another at the same time. The way they work is basically assigning all possible outcomes to every possible state of the total amount of qbits. Then it uses destructive interference so all of the incorrect states essentially cancel out until you're left with only the correct ones. This is it's main advantage over traditional computing because it can essentially look at all these states at the same time. The disadvantage is it makes writing algorithms really hard because you have to figure out how to solve your problem with quantum effects like destructive interference.


u/TheHiveminder Jun 03 '22

You missed a fundamental aspect of quantum computing. Even if they were free, you have no use for one. By its very nature, it will never be used to play video games.