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Google building a quantum computer chip with John Martinis


With computer scientists struggling to overcome flat lining returns on processing speeds no longer boosted by the tried and tested method of cramming ever more improbable numbers of transistors on a single chip, technology giant Google are once again setting their sights on the Holy Grail that is Quantum computing.

The California based company has a long history of investing in experimental technology, and this latest announcement is just one of a flurry of glimpses of the future that they have been issued from their Mountain View offices. Already partners with NASA’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab (QUAIL), recent years have seen them launch a number of programs designed to push back the boundaries of existing technology. Project tango, an android operated device which tracks 3D motion, and creates a 3D model of the environment around it aims to give mobile devices a ‘human scale understanding of space and motion,’ and in doing so change the way we interact with such devices forever.

Project Ara, on the other hand is an attempt to bring hardware design to the masses by creating a truly modular Smartphone with unparalleled user customization; add on devices can be hot swapped in or out with suggested modules such as keyboards, speakers and even medical devices being able to be created by anyone, without license or fee.

Meanwhile, Google intends to bring the 21st century to even the most rural of areas with Project Loon a network of high altitude balloons that will provide consistently reliable internet access.

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Today’s announcement of a partnership between Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence team and John Martinis and his team at UC Santa Barbara represents the latest hardware initiative to “Design and build new quantum information processors based on superconducting electronics.”

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Matonis, who recently received the prestigious Fritz London Memorial Prize for his work on electronic quantum bits, has according to Google already “made great strides in building superconducting quantum electronic components of very high fidelity,” and this new initiative forms part of Google’s overall plan to stay well ahead of the curve in terms of processing technology.

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Google’s overall vision, to fully index and make searchable the sum of all human knowledge may well find expression via the quantum chip. The exponential increases in processing speed if the still highly theoretical quantum chips work is it would seem the next step in overcoming CPU clock speeds that are effectively limited by ‘real world’ laws of physics. By reaching into the world of the subatomic Google and its partners hope to bring truly intelligent machines to life, and if their hunch turns out to be correct, every penny being pumped into quantum research today will be money, well and truly spent.

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