DWave and the inception of the QM computing dream

sun0615b-d-wave-2hi all. if you ask me, and maybe some others, DWave systems is one of the most fascinating companies in the world.[b] its the only one in existence expressly founded based on pursuing one of the most scifi breakthroughs on the horizon, quantum computing.[a] wouldnt it just be the coolest thing to work in this area somehow?

quantum computing (QC) has burst on the horizon of possibilities esp in the last decade. the race started as countries started to announce official research programs, notably australia. it was thought that the next generation of cpu’s was going to be built using this technology, that it would be “technology disrupting”. note intel is one of the largest companies in the world and silicon valley is one of the most successful economic engines ever built worldwide, and the rise of the cpu and moores law has largely fueled that.

however, QC is turning out to be far, far more difficult than anyone imagined. in this way it is starting to look like hot fusion research. extremely costly, extremely promising, extremely difficult. the theory is well developed and says it should be possible but lining up the technical finesse is proving beyond herculean, its almost sisyphean. every experiment tries to roll the massive rock up the hill and something conspires to push it back down. despite the headlines about extreme breakthroughs, the truth is that measured against practical QC, advances are apparently (oxymoronically) extremely incremental at best.

2013 did turn out to be a year of really intense critical mass for Dwave as far as publicity. they hit many amazing new milestones.[d] Google/Nasa announced they are building labs to study the Dwave computer. Dwave released scientific papers and impartial 3rd parties announced careful scientific studies and analyses of their computer.[c] unfortunately in many ways this has only clouded the issue further of the performance of their machines.

DWave is stuck between a rock & a hard place. to advance they really need to do two things:

  1. show nonlocal QM entanglement in the computer.
  2. show that this leads to performance increases.

unfortunately these two intertwined goals are very difficult to separate. both are proving fiendishly difficult to achieve. unfortunately the theory is not so clear about how to measure QM entanglement for (1). also, performance advance over classical systems (2) is extremely subtle to measure.

so DWave reminds me somewhat of Babbages computer. it was theoretically possible but not within his realm of possibility to actually achieve. the challenge was not theoretical possibility but practical realization. ie basically an engineering problem. these two concepts frequently get mixed up in human minds, ever since the dawn of the industrial revolution these distinct elements have gotten blurry.

we have succeeded in so many ways. yet some things remain out of reach. babbage spent millions on his machines which eventually gathered dust and the projects went bankrupt and were subject to legal investigation/action by the british government.

by some estimates DWave has already spent over a hundred million dollars so far. are they getting their moneys worth? thats the hundred million dollar question! one might expect greater results at this point—spending that money on classical computer technology would unequivocally indeed have resulted in greater computing capacity!

is Dwave going to transcend this dark, monumental archetype of ambitious, failed dreams? there are the creepy ghosts of babbage and the vast wreckages/detritus of silicon valley startups nearby. a mass graveyard of skeletons! or is there also something like the poem of Ozymandias mixed up in the Babbage tale, and possibly to be carried into the modern Dwave story also? or how about tesla & wardencliffe? where will DWave be in 5 years? in this way I must admit I share some of the skepticism of the fields chief critic Dyakonov who has expressed scathing criticisms in his highly-researched & referenced scientific essays.[f]

in any case I commend DWave and its founder for their amazing courage to fearlessly plunge into terra incognita. there are many other research directions and laboratories but none come anywhere close to where Dwave is.[e] Dwave workers are intrepid explorers and pioneers. as the saying goes “the pioneers are the ones with the arrows in their backs”. I dont know if they will succeed in their ultimate goal but they have certainly succeeded on very difficult intermediate goals. there is nothing like this company in the world.

other amazing news is that the Snowden leaks just revealed NSA is working on QC. how far along they are is not certain.[g]

I include many links on remarkable new directions in physics post Higgs discoveries that seem to indicate an ongoing 2nd golden age of physics in our midst (with the birth of QM theory the prior one).[h,i] there are indications that experimenters are possibly in a post-quantum period because they are pushing that theory to its limits and apparently observing new phenomena that are not predicted by the QM formalism. there seem to be hints of “hidden variables” in the experiments. maybe we are even witnessing the early stages and birth pangs of a new theory emerging.

a. intro/background/overview

b. dwave

c. analysis

d. google/nasa/lockheed

e. advance

f. vision

g. nsa

h. qm/particle physics

i. experiments

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