Society has not yet reached singularity, the hypothetical point in time at which technological growth surpasses human knowledge and will either destroy the world or save it. Over the years, futurists have predicted that at some point society will achieve singularity – 2020 was often mentioned as a potential year by futurists in the past but instead we ended up with COVID-19 and a global recession.
There’s only a handful of companies that may deliver on the promises of a tech singularity and one of them is Big Blue – International Business Machines Corp.
In a newly published roadmap, IBM has set stellar goals when it comes to what it wants to deliver in terms of scaling quantum technology. Quantum computing – an overhyped term along with artificial intelligence in the current year – despite the hype both are nascent technologies in 2020 with both still some time off in terms of what was meant to be but the plans of IBM could finally see proper quantum computing coming to pass.
IBM’s roadmap details how Big Blue in the short term is planning to deliver a quantum processor – notably an actual proper quantum processor not just one in name only that delivers over 1,000 qubits of processing power by the end of 2023. In perspective, IBM’s current fastest processors top out at 65 qubits. Intel Corp.’s fast current quantum processor runs at 49 qubits. As Intel notes, proper quantum processing uses “superposition and entanglement potentially enable computing at unprecedented levels of massive parallelism.”
The 2023 planned quantum processor, dubbed the IBM Quantum Condor, isn’t simply a matter of delivering extremely fast processing power but also requires supporting technology. The short version is that IBM a developing a fridge, but not just any cooling device. To cool the Quantum Condor, IBM has developing a “dilution refrigerator larger than any currently available commercially.”
IBM’s path to Condor – the company names its chips after birds were also detailed in its roadmap. The company plans to offer a Humming chip with 65 qubits later this year – up from its current 27 qubit Falcon with a forward plan to offer an Eagle Chip with 127 qubits in 2021 and Osprey with 433 qubits in 2022.
Beyond 2023 is where things get either amazing or scary depending on the potential effect that a singularity could have on society – IBM describes a path to one million qubits and beyond. The exponential rise to that level of computing power potentially has no end as Moore’s law doesn’t apply to quantum computing. The only question remains is that when technology rules humanity will it be for the greater good or a Terminator franchise-like scenario.
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