back to article DARPA's quantum computing is powered by ... FOMO

Fujitsu may not be worried about encryption busting quantum computers showing up anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean the US government is willing to risk missing out. This week the Defense Advanced Research Agency (DARPA), the US military's boffin brain farm, announced a new endeavor, called the Underexplored Systems for …

  1. druck Silver badge

    Star Wars again

    In other words, if it is possible to build a quantum computer capable of breaking through encryption or compromising the United States’ defensces in any capacity, DARPA doesn’t want to be caught playing catch up with rival nations.

    It's just like the Star Wars program (Strategic Defence Initiative) all over again, only this time the joke is on us.

  2. TVU Silver badge

    DARPA's quantum computing is powered by ... FOMO

    That doesn't trouble me and I would rather see DARPA taking a proactive stance now than see autocratic states like China and Russia take a lead in quantum computing.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: DARPA's quantum computing is powered by ... FOMO

      Yes, it doesn't hurt to do some additional practical research in this area. Cryptographically-useful quantum computing (CUQC) is even further off than useful general quantum computing, which is further off than useful quantum supremacy (or quantum advantage, whichever term you prefer).1 But it's looking increasingly likely that we will have useful-for-research GQC systems in not too many years, which will be economically viable for certain problem domains such as simulating the behavior of quantum systems themselves (for physics research, etc).

      Whether we'll ever get to CUQC, which requires not only quite a lot of error-corrected qubits but being able to use them cheaply enough to make it worthwhile against even high-value targets, is another question. We don't know of any fundamental reason why not. So DARPA is doing precisely what it's supposed to be doing.

      1We still don't have consensus on whether anyone's actually demonstrated supremacy yet, as the debate continues over whether there might be feasible classical algorithms for the quantum-circuit and other demonstrations various labs have done. But to paraphrase Aaronson, the Efficient Church-Turing Thesis looks to be on very thin ice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Lets go with Advantage, thank you

        Too many bullshit terms getting normalized, AI isn't intelligent, never was, and won't be for at least decades. Neural nets don't actually resemble the way actual neurons work. Quantum systems that bare make it over the bar of relevance and claim supremacy.

        Quantum Advantage and Machine Learning please.

  3. nautica Silver badge

    Is there any other rational answer to this solution looking for a problem?

    Everything one reads---and has been reading for years---suggests that the only phenomenon which is, and has been, driving quantum computing is the same as that which drives all the glitzy, "We must have that now" and "I don't know what it means or how it works, but it really sounds GREAT" imperatives of the world offered by what, in other times, were called 'snake-oil salesmen': "FEAR OF MISSING OUT--FOMO".

    "Cryptocurrency" leap to mind? How about "cold fusion"? Now give "String Theory" a whirl.

    And then, of course, there's the ever-popular "SEE!? I TOLD you Einstein was full of s**t! angle: " Quantum Entanglement WILL let us travel / communicate / use Facebook faster than the speed of light ! !

    That last one NEVER fails to get headlines. And clicks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      IF they can make it work...

      There are real applications to these devices for things like CFD calulations, and the science behind it is sound not science fiction. If you want to go ALL CAPS the hype of the last few years may give you some justification, but your arm-wavy comparisons aren't going to score any heavy hits. You seem to be wound up without expressing any real understanding of the actual issues around why quantum computing isn't around the corner, or why it will be useful when it shows up.

      Machine learning tools like GANs have their roots back in the 50's, and took 75 years to realize their potential. The people working on quantum systems are bullshitting their ability to deliver a working scalable device in the remotely near future, but they are more honest about it's specific and narrow applications. So click bait certainly, but not the outrageous lies you suggest.

      And yeah, DARPA will spend at least enough to determine if China is full of crap, but the US three letter agencies will be one of the main customers if anyone can ever make this work, so they will look at that too. Nothing shocking about it, and hardly the wackiest thing they will fund this year. The fund the radical edge, that's literally what they are for.

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