Video: A first look inside Google & Nasa's quantum computing lab

Six-minute short film introduces us to the D Wave quantum computer housed by Nasa, and the questions we might one day ask it

Back in May, Google announced the launch of their Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab: a collaboration with Nasa to “study how quantum computing might advance machine learning.” Now, after months of secrecy the search giant has released a video offering a tantalising introduction to the lab and the questions it might one day ask.

As the video above says “quantum physics puts everything into question”, and if you’re expecting quick answers (either from the 6 minute film or from the lab itself) then you will be disappointed. Quantum computing is incredibly difficult, incredibly exciting, and incredibly strange.

In the most simplistic terms we can think of normal computers as operating only using 1s and 0s in an either/or state. Quantum computers still use 1s and 0s but they do so in superposition, meaning that the symbols can be both 1 and 0 at the same time as well as every state in between the two.

Rather than using computers that are capable of processing these 1s and 0s with ever speedier processors, a quantum computer would use these superpositioned bits (known as qubits) to process calculations simultaneously. The leap in computing power that this would provide is beyond exponential, it’s –well- quantum.

Although it seems that even the experts aren’t sure exactly how these computers would work (or how we could ever put them to use – as they say in the video, “really, we don’t know what the best questions are to ask that computer”) it’s thought they might help us with things known as “optimization problems”.

Google explained it like this: “Solving such problems can be imagined as trying to find the lowest point on a surface covered in hills and valleys. Classical computing might use what’s called “ gradient descent”: start at a random spot on the surface, look around for a lower spot to walk down to, and repeat until you can’t walk downhill anymore. But all too often that gets you stuck in a “ local minimum” -- a valley that isn’t the very lowest point on the surface.”

“That’s where quantum computing comes in. It lets you cheat a little, giving you some chance to “tunnel” through a ridge to see if there’s a lower valley hidden beyond it. This gives you a much better shot at finding the true lowest point -- the optimal solution.”

These goals haven't changed, but the world of quantum computing is still as strange and difficult as ever. "We’re still in the early, early days, but we think quantum computing can help solve some of the world’s most challenging computer science problems," said the Quantum A.I. team in a blog post.

"We’re particularly interested in how quantum computing can advance machine learning, which can then be applied to virtually any field: from finding the cure for a disease to understanding changes in our climate."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
Voices
voicesBy the man who has
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Sport
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
News
Floyd
newsFloyd 'Creeky' Creekmore still performed regularly to raise money for local hospitals
Extras
indybestKeep extra warm this year with our 10 best bedspreads
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    QA/BA - Agile

    £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently seekin...

    Senior Infrastructure Engineer - Server, Networks

    £40000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Infrastructure En...

    Application Support Analyst - Service Desk - Central London

    £30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analy...

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?