Quantum Computing Facing Reality Check on Hype and Limitations

new.blicio.us Follow Dec 25, 2023 · 2 mins read
Quantum Computing Facing Reality Check on Hype and Limitations
Share this

Quantum computing has been hyped as a transformative technology that could revolutionize areas ranging from finance to materials science. But leading voices are increasingly sounding a skeptical note about the near-term potential of quantum computers.

In a recent talk, AI luminary Yann LeCun questioned whether useful quantum computers could realistically be built any time soon. While not a quantum expert himself, his remarks reflect growing pushback around unrealistic expectations.

Fundamental Hardware Challenges Remain

Behind the caution are stubborn technical barriers around building reliable “logical qubits.” Fixing errors via quantum error correction may require thousands of physical qubits for every robust logical qubit.

Per Amazon’s Oskar Painter, this means useful fault-tolerant quantum computers are likely at least a decade away. So-called noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) devices available now likely can’t solve meaningful problems.

Actual Speedups More Limited Than Claimed

The promise of quantum computing lies in potential exponential speedups over classical hardware. Yet Microsoft’s Matthias Troyer argues only two known applications demonstrate this advantage: factoring large numbers and simulating quantum systems.

Other much-touted applications like optimization and machine learning may yield only quadratic improvements. Moreover, quantum computers operate extremely slowly, with major bandwidth constraints. Troyer suggests even in optimistic future scenarios, quantum computers will only outperform classical hardware on tiny datasets after centuries or millennia of compute time.

Applications Likely More Narrow Than Suggested

While quantum’s advantage for quantum simulation is real, research indicates the problems benefiting even in this domain may be limited. Areas like quantum chemistry that screen many molecule combinations likely won’t see exponential complexity increases. Insights like this have led finance and life sciences companies to reduce quantum investments.

Per Merck’s Philipp Harbach, while future fault tolerant quantum computers may provide helpful acceleration of existing drug discovery workflows, they likely won’t enable wholly new solutions. Moreover, achieving meaningful business impact depends heavily on specific use cases.

Time for Realistic Assessments

Rather than dampening enthusiasm, researchers like Troyer want more realistic appraisals of quantum computing’s near-term limitations. This focuses efforts on the most promising high-impact applications in specialized domains like chemistry and materials science. With clarity on quantum’s capabilities amid the hype, we can pursue quantum progress responsibly.

Written by new.blicio.us Follow