Thursday, November 3, 2016

Quantum computing researcher compares two breakthrough experiments

Arne Laucht is a Research Fellow at the School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications at the University of New South Wales, in Australia, and the lead author of a paper documenting a breakthrough experiment that involved maintaining “quantum superposition” of an electron spin for ten times longer than ever achieved previously, thereby making it easier to preserve and work with information on the quantum level for longer periods and to use it to perform more calculations using capabilities generated and supported by quantum effects..

You can learn more about this work in “Quantum computers: 10-fold boost in stability achieved."  The work shows how qubits “dressed” with an oscillating electromagnetic field are more stable than “undressed” qubits without one.  “Qubits” are the basic building blocks of quantum computing, and can perform multiple calculations simultaneously, due to the probabilistic nature of atomic structure at the quantum level.

As Laucht says in this article:

“We have now implemented a new way to encode the information: we have subjected the atom to a very strong, continuously oscillating electromagnetic field at microwave frequencies, and thus we have ‘redefined’ the quantum bit as the orientation of the spin with respect to the microwave field.”

Dr. Laucht was kind enough to provide Etopia News with a statement comparing the work being done with quantum computing technology in his lab with related work being done by the Sandia-Harvard team reported on recently by Etopia News here and here.

Here’s what he had to say:

The work done by the Sandia-Harvard team is a very nice demonstration of an all-optical switch using a single SiV [silicon vacancy] centre in diamond integrated in a photonic crystal nanobeam cavity, and the entanglement of two SiV centres via the cavity. Aspects of these experiments have already been demonstrated in other materials using other quantum systems, so the real novelty is the demonstration of all of that within a single chip, with the potential to scale the system to multiple colour centres.

“The physical system that was used by the Sandia-Harvard team is completely different to the one that we are using. They are using excitonic qubits while we are using spin qubits. Their qubits couple directly to the electric field component of light, while our qubits couple to the magnetic field component of microwaves. In principle, it would be possible to demonstrate the entanglement of two spin qubits via a microwave cavity (which would correspond to the measurements from the Sandia-Harvard team in our physical system), however we would have to use special tricks to get the coupling strengths large enough to see these effects. This could possibly be done using the dressed qubits that we have demonstrated, or alternatively using the flip-flop states of the phosphorus donor (see ).

“I hope that helps to clarify the connection between the different experiments.”

Separated as they are by thousands of miles of physical space, these quantum researchers are nevertheless still “entangled” in their efforts to discover and apply quantum mechanical principles that could transform computing and the world.  It’s almost “spooky action at a distance,” in which physically-separated-but-entangled quantum states can function as a single, unitary entity.

“Quantum State” is more likely if Modernizing Government Technology Act passes U.S. Senate

Richard Beutel is the founder and leader of Cyrrus Analytics, whose corporate mission is “driving opportunities to accelerate the government’s adoption of cloud-based technologies.”  According to the Cyrrus website, “Richard Beutel is taking a leadership role in pushing forward the Modernizing Government Technology (MGT) Act, working directly with Senate staffers to push forward this essential proposal to modernize IT across the federal government.”

This legislation, which is designed to upgrade woefully-inadequate legacy computing systems, passed the U.S. House of Representatives on September 22, 2016.  According to a statement provided today to Etopia News by Mr. Beutel:

“The legislation is moving through the Senate. Our hope is that Homeland Security and Government Affairs will schedule a committee markup and refer the legislation to the floor under unanimous consent. If so, there is a good chance the legislation could pass both the House and the Senate in the lame duck session of Congress.”

Previously, Etopia News asked Mr. Beutel to comment on the inclusion of advanced computing technologies, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and quantum computing, within this proposed program to replace today’s antiquated government computer systems with newer and more-efficient ones.

Here’s what he had to say:

“While the direct application of the ITMF [IT Modernization Fund] to such emerging areas as machine learning; AI and quantum computing is not expressly called out in the MGT legislation, it does envision and expressly authorize IT modernization to address the crisis with the government’s use of antiquated and unprotectable legacy IT platforms. To the extent these emerging technologies become integral to the vision of OMB [Office of Management and Budget] and the federal agencies to achieve IT modernization, I would expect that the MGT Act and its included IT Modernization Fund would apply and be made available.”

Quantum computing, not yet realized in practice, offers a new level of computer power, fueled by such quantum mechanical principles as “superposition” and “entanglement,” which enable much faster calculations.  Google has said that quantum processors, within certain parameters, can speed up the computational process by a factor of 100 million times.

Operational quantum computers, employed by government and the private sector, could power artificial intelligence and machine learning applications at hitherto unprecedented speeds, transforming government and commercial processes by several orders of magnitude.

“Quantum state” today refers to the condition of a particular atom, and specifies the energy level of that small physical system.  Should Mr. Beutel’s suggestion that quantum computing might be included in the general IT upgrade envisioned by the Modernizing Government Technology Act eventually come to pass, then the government would be able to perform its computational functions tremendously faster, potentially revolutionizing government operations and paving the way for a “quantum state,” a political jurisdiction within which the ubiquitous use of quantum computing transforms and dominates the operation of a wide variety of governmental and commercial services and of everyday life, as well.

The extent, power, and precision of calculations based on a quantum-computing infrastructure could lead to the qualitative transformation and enhancement of such processes as book, film, and dating recommendation engines; predictive analytics; cybersecurity, including new levels of powerful encryption and methods of breaking exiting encryption systems; government and private surveillance, various forms of business optimization; autonomous vehicles and military systems; and fields not yet existing or even imagined or defined.

It couldn’t hurt to start thinking and talking about how we want to be governed and live our lives in such a “quantum state.”

For further discussion of the government’s plan to spend $3.1 billion on upgrading its IT infrastructure, look here for a blog post by the Federal Government’s Chief Information Officer Tony Scott on this subject.