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Sergio Boixo, Physicist at Google Quantum IA: “We’re very close to having a quantum computer without errors” | technology



Sergio Boixo, from Leon who will be turning half a century this year, was a philosopher before he became a mathematician, physicist and engineer. This path has helped him to be flexible in the way he thinks about the world. Quantum artificial intelligence (AI) has been a part of it for a decade, with a Google research group opening in February one of the most anticipated doors to quantum computing: “Proving that it is possible to reduce errors as it increases system size and registration failure rates are low enough to implement algorithms How useful.” This result allows him to predict that we are “very close” to a faultless computer that will harness the potential of the subatomic universe and with it, a new era of discovery.

Ask. In love there is a superposition of states, a decoherence… Will it serve to explain quantum mechanics?

Answer. I do not describe love in terms of chemistry and physics. I don’t know if this has something to do with love. I will not limit it to physics and chemistry. If you do, it won’t be love.

s. Can you explain in an understandable way what quantum computing is?

R was found. Everyone, more or less, knows what computing is or has had more or less direct experience because we all have computers and cell phones. It was one of the technological revolutions of the last century. Quantum mechanics is an older discipline than computer science because it started at the beginning of the 20th century. It’s the modern scientific discipline that explains why physics and chemistry don’t work the way we thought it would, and it’s the basis of many of the technologies we use, like the chips that make computing possible or flat-panel displays. Quantum computing performs computations according to the rules of quantum mechanics, which vary.

s. But we still can’t talk about a quantum computer?

R was found.. We are very close. The announcement we made in February is related to that. The reason we don’t have what I would call a flawlessly functioning quantum computer, software, is that we have to fix it. And this is what we declared: debugging is possible. We still have to lower the rate further, but by the end of this decade, if we’re optimistic, we’ll have it. It is our road map.

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s. And what advantages will it bring?

R was found. It’s hard to know what the applications of a quantum computer would be like without a quantum computer. For more than a century we have been working on trying to solve the problems of quantum mechanics, that is, chemistry and physics, which are the basis of industry: better batteries, for example, or superconductors to transmit electricity without energy loss, or the efficient development of fertilizers or medicines and vaccines, or advances in the field of classical data or topology or finance. There are many problems that cannot be solved with a classic computer and this would be one of the great applications.

There are many problems that cannot be solved with a classic computer and this would be one of the great applications

s. What are the limits of a quantum computer realization?

R was found. The two main limitations are hardware [elementos materiales] Based on Programming [programación]. The ad we made was possible because we worked on it Programmingin debugging protocols, in better decoders and controls, but a lot of the progress is because we’ve improved hardware In recent years to be able to show bug fix scales. There is no longer a competition between a computational process with a quantum processor and a classic supercomputer, as it did in 2019. The hardware we had back then had a lot of physical bugs making the demo we did. It has improved greatly in recent years and needs to continue to improve for the next stages in our roadmap and, above all, to reduce the physical errors of our qubits.

s. When is the error rate low enough?

R was found. In our roadmap, we think it’s in two or three years. The proof we have just given is a prototype of error-free logical qubits, just as classical computers have error-free logical qubits. To achieve this, we need to do bug fixes and make it work. A logical qubit aggregates many physical qubits to obtain redundant information that allows you to correct errors. If one of the physical qubits fails and the others don’t, you should be able to put in more physical qubits, but they have errors. We have to get to an error rate low enough that the errors lost don’t increase by putting in more physical qubits, but rather decrease. This is what’s starting to happen now: we’ve been able to fit more physical qubits and have fewer errors. It’s the progress that we think is necessary and we’re out to share it, because there’s still a lot of technology necessary to be able to develop a quantum computer that we don’t have yet and all of us won’t develop that technology either. We are counting on a series that has to achieve that and hopefully in two or three years that will happen as well.

Quantum post cryptography is just as problematic as it was in 2000, when computers had to be upgraded. Nothing happened and I don’t think anything happened

s. Just like a quantum computer opens up infinite positive possibilities, does it threaten Internet security?

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R was found. There is a lot of effort and a lot of theoretical development to find solutions. This is called quantum postcoding. Work on this project has continued in the past decade with even greater intensity. It’s a problem like the one in the year 2000, when computers had to be updated for the turn of the millennium. You won’t have to change everything Programming Classic, but only encryption algorithms. And we know how to update it, even though it’s still a big project that a lot of people are working on. Nothing happened in 2000 and I don’t think anything will happen now.

s. Does Latin America have a say in quantum computing? Will there be Sycamore, Google’s quantum processor, in Spain, Mexico or Brazil, for example?

R was found. Latin America has pioneered quantum computing and this continues to be the case. There are important research centers in all countries, and more and more. Not everyone has to do qubits. If that were the case, we wouldn’t have a quantum computer. We rely on specialty companies as well that make other component and that’s what we’re seeing start to happen. At first they will be specialized experimental co-processors for some accounts. Computing takes place through the cloud and this symbiotic relationship is created where there are interesting niche hubs that provide computing power that many other companies use. We believe this is how quantum computing will evolve: the first specialized processors in computing centers will be within everyone’s reach. In fact, it’s part of who we are [Google] What we do is try to help train the specialized workforce that will be required to work with these processors. In terms of applications, our business is open source [código abierto]. We have developed a simulator so that anyone can go to our website, click on a link, and start coding. All of this is, for now, open source and free to encourage application development in all countries.

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s. How has the quantum computing philosophy helped you?

R was found. I started studying philosophy before learning quantum mechanics and it helped me forget our preconceptions about the shape of the world. In philosophy you learn to put your thoughts aside, to be more flexible, that there is no evidence for an object separate from the subject, and that there is no being without an observer. In quantum physics, this idea that perhaps the wave function collapses, for example, is no longer so foreign to you because we’re talking about phenomena and there’s always an observer involved in it. Qubits cannot be completely isolated and monitoring them is introducing errors. In error correction we use superconductors that can be controlled and observed, although there are many errors. But we don’t use very coherent neutrinos, but we can’t control or measure them.

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