Quantum computing’s terrifying promise


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2017/09/06/quantum-computings-terrifyi.html


To clarify, this appears to have been written by Rob Reid, not Mark.


That’s not a big-ass rocket engine. This is a big-ass rocket engine.


I thought that rocket engine was supposed to be a steam-punk Dalek, at first glance…terrifying, indeed…


terrifying promise

I got one from my 3rd grade teacher, still gives me the collywobbles sum’ting fierce.


I still can’t imagine a need for anything beyond 640K of addressable memory…


“Have an answer for you? Yes, but you are not going to like it.”


And it’s only 20 years away!

(note to self - keep this post for future use)


We had an F-1 engine doing its quasi gate-guardy thing at our previous work site. In the process of relocation, a very active insect zoo/micro-environ was discovered underneath. Incredibly nasty, with bugs sort of boiling around down there, prompting the inevitable jokes re a buggy engine (not the case in reality). Oh. And the birds’ nests jammed within the jungle-gym of tubes and manifolds up top were “gathered” (which I read as “disposed of”); ~45 years of nesting… gone. Between the bugs and birds… no joy.




The secret to mastering the challenge of quantum computing is to contact one of the alternative realities where they made it work, and ask them how they did it.

The reason we need to keep buying bigger and bigger computers to do the same work is that this is the reality that our alternative selves in other timelines are stealing cycles from, to solve their computation needs.


Well, if you’d like to play with IBM’s 5 qubit quantum computer now, you can run experiments on it for free:



The information storage of a quantum system is a bit more complicated than that. First, there is the “holographic bound” on the information content in a 3-dimensional region. (Information content is proportional to surface area.) If I recall, the upper bound can only be satisfied by a black hole.

Second, while the dimension of the space of n-qubits is exponential in n (i.e. 2^n), there doesn’t seem to be a way of getting more than n classical bits out of an observation of those n qubits.

See, for example, Scott Aaronson’s lectures or book: https://www.scottaaronson.com/democritus/ Lectures 13 and 14


It’s kind of like building an Infinite Improbability Drive.


Magic 28-ball says “Maybe”.

UPDATE: Dibs on the term “Magic QuBall”.


Aaronson is a D-Wave skeptic:


I would think that a certain amount of healthy skepticism is appropriate. Also, D-Wave is not supposed to be a universal quantum computer as far as I recall. Several of the big “Wow!” algorithms, such as Shor’s algorithm, cannot be run on it. So you can’t use it to break RSA, for example.


“Simmons said you made a breakthrough?”

“Well, good news and bad news.”

“Good news first.”

“The new quantum algorithm allows us to procedurally generate tailored advertising so persuasive that the target cannot help to buy the product or service.”

“Cool! What’s the bad news?”

"The auto-generated comments in the code. They’ve . . . revealed things. Half the development staff have killed themselves. We teeter on the brink of an abyss of space-time vaster and more complex than imagined by any theory, but more importantly we have learned that we are [CONNECTION LOST]


Fine, whatever, use a whole laptop’s hardware if you want. Put it up on the net and we’ll see how many pr0n collections it can handle.

I keep hearing about Quantum computing’s potential, but I don’t seem to be hearing about any classes of problems smashed yet. So what are people using the units for that are being sold?


Well, of course a guy who is on the board of D-Wave will want to talk about Quantum computing’s terrifying potential. Is D-Wave systems currently seeking investment funding? Why yes, yes they are. Responsible reporting on this would note that only tasks specifically constructed to take advantage of quantum computing have been solved efficiently (and not with any improvement over classical methods), and that these tasks don’t map on to any real-world problem that anyone wants to solve.