To some of us, wicked fast quantum computers seem like the stuff of theory and some far off future. Not so if you work at Google or NASA. In a sign the technology is creeping closer to practical use, Google, NASA, and the non-profit Universities Space Research Association (USRA) recently announced formation of the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab and seeded it with a brand new 512-qubit D-Wave Two quantum computer.
Quantum computers promise to be orders of magnitude faster than classical computers and far better at the “optimization problems” associated with machine learning—improving not only Google search but perhaps ushering in the kind of “creative problem solving” humans associate with intelligence.
Each D-Wave quantum computer is housed in a 10’ featureless black cabinet. Inside the box, an apparatus hangs from the ceiling like a high-tech stalactite. A niobium chip resides in the tip and is cooled to a tiny fraction