The New York Times’ story is here [^].
Oh, BTW, this is one of those rare occasions when a peer-reviewed PDF of a scientific paper is being made available from a newspaper’s commercial servers—not from a server at some government-run Important National Lab, or a taxpayer-funded Wonderful State University, or for that matter, even arXiv! An interesting bit by itself, don’t you think?
(And, BBTW, I am old enough that as soon as I read this news, I instinctively slipped into wondering as to the time when the Russians might come forward with some “evidence” to show that they had accomplished the same thing some a few years earlier. … I guess I should go and enquire with the folks at the JNU New Delhi, ISI Kolkata, or IIT Bombay—they should know.)
Anyway, coming back to this exciting bit of news itself: at least at the time of going to wordpress, far too many American blogs on quantum computing still were completely silent. Especially those being maintained by the American academics. Several days over, and still not even a cursory acknowledgment!
Yet, this bit of news is not a hype; the advancement is for real. Check out the following links (many of which were mentioned in Henning’s post, anyway): New Scientist [^], MIT’s Technology Review [^], IEEE [^], and even Nature [^].
So, an exciting news item, this one surely is. But what is comprehensively missing is one thing: that American (Hindi word) “taDkaa.”
The MIT Technology Review story, for instance, has this as the subtitle of its online story:
“Tests suggest that a CIA-backed quantum computing technology can be very powerful for some kinds of problems.”
“A” quantum computing technology—not the first to get a definite practical success. “CIA-backed”—which means, this hint: the CIA has the money to pour into some potentially wasteful projects, and also have the means to choke out any adverse news reports if they fail, unlike the real innovative, open, democratic institutions like certain US universities. And, only “some” kind of problems would become solvable—it’s certain that with more research at MIT and Berkeley, the hardware is bound to get intelligent, but don’t expect it to be omniscient, that’s all. (Parenthetically: the company is Canadian.)
So, all in all, what I am missing out on is that American “taDkaa.” Even if Lockheed Martin, an American firm, already has gone ahead with the plans to use it [^], and an American by name Bo Ewald has become involved with the DWave [^]. [Full disclosure: I worked with e-Stamp roughly around the same time that Bo Ewald did. [Hi Bo!]]
The major reason I want to see some real American “masaalaa” and “taDkaa” on and around this topic, and if not that, then at least some ordinary hype on it, is: so that people get mysterious about this whole thing. Remember, the field of quantum computing carries two highfalutin words: “quantum” and “computing.” Even if the second word has lost a bit of a shine (Steve Jobs is no longer around, Chairman Bill is no longer the Chairman, and even the DC threatens Google only once in a while—there is no real DoJ action), it still carries a lot of aura. And, till date, they have managed to keep the first word, neatly wrapped up in a thick, impenetrable kind of an aura of a mystery.
When you combine the two together, there should be a multiplicative/exponential kind of a synergy. “Quantum Computing,” you know, should sound big. BIG. VERY BIG.
It, then, would be such a fun to step in on to the scene, and begin explaining how quantum computing is such a simple thing, after all! … How it is not all that big a mystery; how it really works. Explaining quantum computing on the basis of [clears the throat] my novel approach, would be fun, provided there is a preceding American “taDkaa” to it. In sufficient quantities. Together with “masaalaa.” To make it all mysterious in the first place.
There is no fun carrying just a pin around, no matter how sharp it may be. It’s no fun if you do have the pin, but there is no balloon in the first place—or, as in this case, there is that balloon, but still, no one is willing to inflate it.
* * *
Congratulations to the engineers and physicists at the D-Wave, anyway!