IBM Brings Quantum Computing to the Cloud
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IBM Brings Quantum Computing to the Cloud

One of the most exciting initiatives we have at IBM Research is our effort to build a quantum computer. This will be one of the great milestones in the history of information technology. Quantum computing, it is rooted in nature. Nature computes. So what we’re really doing is understanding those fundamental aspects of nature and creating a version of it that allows us to do universal forms of computation. The idea of putting quantum computing on the cloud is the beginning of something truly important. Jay Gambetta: We’re going to put 5 qubits and give access to anyone and one of the great things about putting this on the web, they’re going to play with quantum objects, place them around, see what they do and hopefully build up an intuition much like we have with classical physics. Jerry Chow: Welcome to one of our quantum computing labs. Right over here’s one of our dilution refrigeration systems which actually cool down our super conducting qubit devices. There are a number of different plates inside here, which all sit at different temperatures. That gets down all the way it to 15 millikelvin. Now that’s colder than outer space itself. One the real difficulties with making a quantum computer is keeping quantum information alive and essentially trying to preserve that quantum information. You can almost think of it as trying to do something impossible like balancing an egg at the tip of a pencil. There’s certainly some configurations which you might be able to do it but essentially it’s going to tip over. And how you actually actively keep it in its place and preserve it is one of the real aspects that we work on trying to improve our devices and to make quantum computing happen. now here I have just a plain old cup of coffee. Caffeine is already a molecule that is so large that essentially there’s no computer in the world that will ever be able to fully simulate it. The interesting thing is that the physics that governs how this molecule’s put together is essentially quantum. And so if the molecule follows quantum mechanics then it would be kind of silly to try to stimulate that with conventional computing which uses these zeros and ones. These bits. The real potential is in designing things like drugs and understanding objects like proteins and different compounds that are really essential for life. Dario Gil: When we’re able to build universal quantum computer we will be able to solve certain problems exponentially faster. We will impact a broad variety of fields, whether we’re talking the area of cryptography or machine learning or searching large databases… Jerry Chow: Now quantum computing has the potential to unlock all of that. Jay Gambetta: The project is hard. It’s difficult. We don’t know how to do it all. We have great people that are really passionate about what they’re doing and we get to have great interactions conversations as a very strong relationship between the theory team here and the experimental team. Jerry Chow: Having the infrastructure in place here at IBM and allowing someone to access it is going to be really important for developing new applications in the future. Dario Gil: We’re not going to have quantum computers in our pocket. We will have quantum systems in the cloud that we will be able to access. And for a lot of people, day-to-day basis, they may not even know that their information is coming from a quantum computer in the future, but they will benefit from the value that the quantum computers have created. By the time we have 50 qubits or so that system, no conventional classical computer one that we’ve ever built for could ever build could emulate what that 50 quit quantum system will have. And that we’re going to see it in the years to come. This is not decades away or a 100 years away. That quantum age has now come.


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