Google Reaches Quantum Computing Milestone

The breakthrough puts the company one step closer to developing a quantum computer with real-world applications

 A logo sits illuminated outside the Google booth at ISE 2023 and IOT Solution World Congress at Fira Barcelona on January 31, 2023 in Barcelona, Spain. I

Cesc Maymo / Getty Images

Google (GOOG; GOOGL) reached what the company is calling a milestone in quantum computing, building on a landmark achievement in 2019 and setting the stage for what could be fierce competition among tech companies to develop useful applications of quantum computing.

Key Takeaways

  • Google researchers were able to reduce the number of computational errors by its quantum bits (qubits).
  • The breakthrough is the company’s second milestone in its roadmap to building an error-corrected quantum computer.
  • The tech landscape is seeing seismic shifts with recent developments in quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

Google Achieves Industry First in Error-Correction

Google researchers demonstrated they could reduce errors in calculations while increasing the number of physical quantum bits (qubits) in a 'logical qubit,' a building block of large-scale quantum computers. The researchers first published their findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday.

Quantum computers can make calculations beyond the realm of traditional computers, but prototypes have been prone to high error rates, making them unreliable.

“Error rates of the qubits on our 3rd generation Sycamore processor are typically between 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 100. Through our work and that of others, we understand that developing large-scale quantum computers will require far lower error rates,” the researchers said in a blog post.

“To that end, we use a particular error-correcting code called a surface code and show for the first time that increasing the size of the code decreases the error rate of the logical qubit,” they added.

The latest breakthrough by Google’s Quantum AI team is the second stage of its six-step roadmap to building an error-corrected quantum computer, an essential tool for developing scientific and industrial applications for quantum computing.

Computing Landscape is Shifting with New AI Technology

The timing of this latest breakthrough is advantageous for Google-parent Alphabet. Microsoft’s (MSFT) integration of ChatGPT with its Bing search engine last month, and a high-profile flub by Google's Bard chatbot, have some wondering if Google will be a loser in the AI arms race.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates predicted this week that the arrival of ChatGPT will hurt Google's profit and shake up tech industry heavyweights, such as Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN).

"Google has owned all of the search profits, so the search profits will be down, and their share of it may be down because Microsoft has been able to move fairly fast on that one," he said on the “In Good Company” podcast.

To be sure, Google Search brought in $162 billion in revenue in 2022, compared to Microsoft's approximately $12 billion.

AI is also expensive to deploy. John Hennessy, chair of Alphabet, recently told Reuters that an AI-based search query would cost Google ten times the amount of a standard search.

Article Sources
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  1. Google Blog. "Suppressing Quantum Errors by Scaling a Surface Code Logical Qubit."

  2. ChatGPT. "Optimizing Language Models for Dialogue".

  3. In Good Company. "Bill Gates".

  4. Microsoft. "Earnings Release FY2022 Q4 - More Personal Computing."

  5. Alphabet Inc. "Alphabet Inc. Form 10-K for the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2022." Page 59.

  6. Reuters. "For Tech Giants, AI like Bing and Bard Poses Billion-Dollar Search Problem."

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