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What is Quantum Computing? – BBC Click


this week the wide world of 360 video
the artistic world of Marina Abramovic
and the strange world of quantum
computers
imagine a computer that could crack the
world’s most secure codes in minutes
design extraordinary new medicines even
pave the way to intelligent machines big
tech companies like Google IBM and
Microsoft are all trying to be the first
to achieve a breakthrough in the field
of quantum computing but well we’re not
quite there yet at the moment if you
want a quantum computer you need all of
this you need your ionizing lasers your
cooling lasers and your processor you
need all of this and currently all this
can do is add a 0 and a 1 but it does do
it in a really cool way quantum
computers harness weird wonderful
phenomenon seen only at very small
scales
the data in an ordinary computer is
represented as bits each of which can
either be 0 or 1 a quantum computer
instead uses quantum bits or qubits now
these qubits can be both 0 and 1 at the
same time this is called superposition
and it’s a key feature of a quantum
computers unique powers so when a
quantum computer adds a 0 and a 1 it’s
also adding a 1 and a 0 and a 1 and a 1
and a 0 and a 0 all at the same time so
number-crunching could in theory be done
much faster on a quantum computer there
are a few really important things that
we know they will be able to do if we
can ever build them so one thing is
searching through a database let’s say
you’ve got a list of about a million
items say and you want to find one
particular item through that list well
all an ordinary computer can do is look
through that list one item at a time
look at the first item the second item
the third item until eventually you find
the item that you’re looking for a
quantum computer can in some sense look
at all those items simultaneously we
know that quantum computers will be able
to help artificial intelligences learn
better learn faster optimizing things
designing things if you’re trying to
design they say that the shape of a car
so that air will flow over it in exactly
the right way that’s an optimization
problem
it looks like quantum computers are
going to be extremely good at that
and then there’s code breaking if you
give an ordinary computer a code to
break it will try every possible
combination one at a time but give a
quantum computer a code to break and it
can try all the codes at once this is a
huge area of application of quantum
computers and it’s really the
financially the driving force in putting
money into the industry and persuading
people to really try to build these
things the first government which has a
functional quantum computer which can
break break into secret messages is
going to be as a big advantage and maybe
we want to try and hide away the fact
that they’ve got those capabilities and
if super position wasn’t weird enough a
quantum computers qubits can be paired
up or entangled and then can
instantaneously affect each other from
anywhere else in the universe well
that’s all very well in theory but it is
really hard in practice at Sussex
University researchers are preparing for
the challenge of scaling up their
prototype quantum computers to take them
from handfuls of qubits on the lab bench
to industrial scale so what do you see
is an actual working quantum computer as
we’re filming this you can literally see
an atom for example be in one state and
another state simultaneously and what
you see on the screen is the evidence
that really occurs that you really the
atoms and this very very strange and
counterintuitive state so quantum
computers have been in a way for a long
long time the holy grail of science and
and with that it actually seemed nearly
impossible to builtin and people felt
maybe it’s just never possible to build
virtual machine the reason why it’s so
hard because to control quantum effects
in such a way allowing us to build a
large-scale quantum computer is
tremendously hard quantum effects like
that an atom can be at two different
places at the same time more
entanglement with Einstein referred to
spooky
he said just so hard to control
at the moment these prototypes offer a
glimpse of how these computers might
work in the future
but how will we use them when we have
them what is a quantum computer program
the basic building blocks of a quantum
computer program are really very alien
to us they’re things like superposition
and entanglement those are the right
high-level concepts to be to put into
our quantum computer programs but it’s
very hard for the human brain to
understand what entanglement is and what
its consequences are thinking of qubits
is connected by pieces of string
actually works extremely well to help us
design and predict designer quantum
programs and predict what they will do
so perhaps a high-level quantum
programming language of the future could
look like a sort of could look like a
knot or could look like a children’s
game with untangling the fishing lines
and see who’s got which fish you could
imagine drawing all these strings and
having them connected to each other and
going up and going down and coiled
around and the pattern of how those
strings interact that pattern is your
content program
I do feel the programmers have a little
bit of time to sort their software out
though because the hardware is also
still a work in progress I’ve gone
underground to see Oxford University’s
quantum computer the lab is a wizard’s
paradise of lasers vacuum chambers and
traps for atom sized particles
in the lab they’ve achieved a world
record level of control over their
quantum bits they can even show off by
making a single qubit glow in Morse code
see L I see kaif click what will your
quantum computer looks like you won’t be
this size thing so ideally it looks
incredibly boring and incredibly small
so when we build something like this it
takes an optics tables this is 2 meters
by 1 meter by 1 meter high we think we
can get this down to something that size
of a shoebox in the next 5 years once
you’ve got everything in there once we
have everything that my place machine
down optimized and rather than made by
physicists made by engineers to make
something that actually works rather
than has enough knobs on that when you
have enough people twisting them they do
something right once you’re not looking
to put more and more qubits into the
same box ie what we want to do is build
devices that can contain about 5 or 10
cubits we build many of these devices
and hook them together of our network
this is the same way as if you have a
supercomputer nowadays you don’t have
one big computer you have lots of
smaller computers that hook together in
data center these data centers thrumming
with lots and lots of different machines
and lots of blinking lights that’s what
we envisage these things are it does
sound like it’s not the most efficient
design if you’re plugging lots of these
things together with optic fiber rather
than making a quantum computer that has
50 cubits in one place yeah the most
efficient device we can ever build and
have all the qubits being able to talk
to every other qubit and that’s really
you know where ideally you’d want to be
but you’ll always get to the point where
you can’t put any more qubits in your
device where you’re built a device is so
big you can’t build a bigger one and at
that point what we want to do is have a
network we can build up so once you’ve
got as big as you can with these
techniques you can then network them
together to build bigger networks
the huge potential of quantum computing
has attracted big tech players
Google told us it will have something
big to announce in March 2018 iBM has a
20 cubic quantum computer the
researchers can program over the
Internet both these companies are trying
to build reliable quantum computers of
around 50 cubits now at this point they
will achieve something called quantum
supremacy which sounds world-changing
but it might not be why I don’t like the
phrase is that when you cross that
boundary
nothing instantaneously magical happens
it’s just the point at which you can’t
predict what the Machine would do it’s
the point that the machine might be
useful for something but to be honest we
haven’t worked out anything that has a
60 cubits quantum computer could
usefully do so it’s into the uncharted
territory very exciting but it’s not the
point at which the quantum hardware is
supreme you should not throw where your
iPhone or your desktop computer or even
your supercomputer and have a quantum
computer instead so with more tech
companies getting serious about quantum
computing there is now a place for them
to show off their ideas it is the
quantum technologies fair in London and
Kat Hawkins has been along to see what
is on the quantum horizon when it comes
to quantum computing a lot of the
research still seems to be happening
very much in academia but I wanted to
find out how much of it is being taken
away from the lab bench for applications
in the real world every stall at this
fair is using the same tech used in
quantum computing the principles of
trapping manipulating and measuring tiny
atoms sized particles but the practical
applications here are creative and
potentially life-changing from diamonds
used in heart disease sensing to
capturing individual virus particles
they’re really designed to be able to
measure very very sensitively at very
very small
scales so it’s ideal for things like
nanoparticles like viruses and indeed
for measuring chemical signatures as
well use the mouse to move that scale
bar back and forth it should be fairly
obvious when it flashes really bright
that’s when it Wiggles around that’s
when you’ve got a particle trapped in
your resonator the ultimate aim is that
viruses could be picked up using this
diagnostic tool but the main focus now
for most people here is on overcoming
the engineering challenge of making
large bulky systems a lot lot smaller
heavy industry all the way through to
defense and security transport and then
healthcare technologies it’s incredible
to see how many stores here are
researching so many different areas and
they’re all working together with an
open source mentality along with a lot
of investment the British government
spent 270 million pounds over the last
five years on quantum technology
research the collaborative element
especially the number of things that MPL
is involved in because we have a lot of
the core technology and science and
we’re just looking you know what are the
actual applications in the UK business
world from afar a lot of the
applications here still look like
complex machinery but and Curtis has
been looking into its potentials in an
important area far far away so one of
the main applications we can use for
quantum technologies is quantum sensors
and what we’re doing in this experiment
is we want a sense greenhouse gases and
measure how much there is how that’s
changing over time and one good way to
monitor large-scale systems is from
space to put something properly on a
satellite it has to go through all this
space qualifying test so every item in
there would have to be space qualified
most of the fiber technology isn’t so
good in space due to radiation
you know effects but there’s no reason
why this couldn’t be miniaturizing for
open space it’s just the next stage of
funding it’s so hard to be here today
and not feel excited about quantum
technologies but one thing everybody who
said to me is that their particular
real-world applications are a few years
in the future still so when it comes to
fronting computing it’s still very much
a case of watch this space hello and
welcome to the week in tech it was the
week that the Federal Communications
Commission in America voted to repeal
rules on net neutrality which had
stopped Internet service providers from
offering different speeds and priorities
for traffic online the extraordinarily
elongated interstellar asteroid Kumu
amoA
was being checked for signs of alien
technology and here on earth the faces
of two billion people can be compared in
a matter of seconds with Minority Report
style system dragonfly I unveiled in
China it was also the week that Netflix
was caught up in a creepy viewing
controversy after revealing on Twitter
that fifty-three subscribers watched the
holiday film a Christmas friend’s every
day for 18 days in a row
Netflix defended the tweet saying it
represented overall trends and not
specific individuals the city of San
Francisco has banned the use of delivery
robots on most of its sidewalks stating
not all innovation is all that great for
society meanwhile Dutch police say it
may not have been such a good idea to
use Eagles to catch drones after all who
could have guessed seen here unclick the
birds were trained to snatch the
machines in the sky but the cost of
keeping the Eagles was too high for too
low demand and it didn’t always do what
they were told and finally if you’re
missing Harry Potter don’t despair
artificial intelligence may have a
solution for you a new chapter has been
created for a book called Harry Potter
and what looked like a portrait of a
large pile of ash its plot twists
include Harry dipping Hermione in hot
sauce and Ron turning into spiders and
trying to eat her – fan
wizard now earlier in the year we looked
at some of the 360 cameras that are
taken off in 2017 Dan filmed with the
new kid on the block the insta one in
Berlin and he came back very pleased
with it easy to use lots of features
including this bullet time mode a bit
like in the film The Matrix where you
can get the picture of yourself from all
angles but what are the more established
names in photography got to offer us
well with Christmas just around the
corner this time we sent down to a
suitably festive place to put two
prosumer 360 cams through their paces
the ancient city of Bath hosts a very
traditional Christmas market one that I
want to catch in the round I’ve got two
cameras for the job ones from Kodak the
other is Nick Homs they look pretty
similar with two ultra wide-angle lenses
capturing everything before the two
images are stitched together in camera
but look closer and you’ll see the Kodak
sporting two different lenses one
smaller than the other super white 235
degree lens it’s also got the tiniest
remote control in the world and a
slightly higher price tag than the Nikon
our producer mayonnaise has the Kodak
while I’m putting the Nick on to its
paces now we don’t just want to test
these cameras out in the daylight when
all the conditions are absolutely
perfect for these cameras we want to
test them out to see what they’re like
as it starts to get dark
well the bright lights be a problem and
well we see all of the detail time to go
full wonder and see who’s 360 is best
please dive in ladies don’t let me get
in your way and in no time at all I
found the festive liquor stand not just
wine but flavored vodkas here and the
nickens not put off by those flashing
lights but the image is a little dark so
we’ll brighten it for you in post there
we go and now you can see the other
problem the image stitching means I’ve
almost lost my head before touching a
job the Kodak’s picture is brighter than
the nickens but we found that the
quality from that super wide angle lens
was softer than the smaller lens it
houses on the other side of the device
of course
you’re best off with a stick attached to
both of these cams otherwise your hands
get sort of in the way
now to make the test Pharaoh we decided
to see how these camps fared back to
back your front to front to back to fun
well it’s difficult to tell to be honest
we shot them side-by-side
we found a 360 globe camera and it’s the
nikon showing off more natural colors
benefiting from a more accurate white
balance although some might prefer the
warmer kodak results as it’s very
Christmasy at the chilly side is shop
again
Kodak warmed things up while Nichkhun
kept things more natural and crisp both
cameras struggled to perfectly stitch
their two shots together this is the raw
footage with no touching up and the
nickens done a reasonable job
the stitching point is more visible on
the kodak partly because of the
different qualities of those two lenses
on the upside its kodak that offers the
ability to play with how the images are
stitched together in it’s free software
something the nickens more basic
offering lacks for sure if fun the kodak
also offers greater flexibility when
playing back what you shot this is
little planet mode and if you want to do
it on the Nikon then you’ll need some
third-party 360 software which may mean
additional cost finally the thing that
everyone forgets when they use a camera
sound we reckon both do a great job but
the Nikon is slightly clearer
although the Kodak offers the
possibility of attaching an external mic
so which camera will enthusiasts be
hoping Santa brings them this year we
think the Kodak edges it for easier post
production while the Nikon has a better
shot but if you’re hoping for a
trouble-free cinematic seamless result
for under 400 pounds
you may have to wait until something
else takes off at least for now this is
a cute art a virtual reality arts
platform and a gallery without walls and
it’s about to launch with VR works by
some of the world’s leading contemporary
artists amongst these works is one by
Marina Abramovic the self-confessed
grandmother of performance art who
pushes her own body to the limits as a
vehicle to challenge and move people
she seems to want to talk to me but the
water is it’s rising she family in real
life when someone rescues another person
or office aid of any kind there is a
transfer of energy do you think she
wants me to touch the glass me
oh oh okay right now I’m somewhere very
cold and everything seems to be going
wrong
as always with VR you really get a sense
of scale I mean that ice shelf looks
absolutely enormous and it’s crashing
down right in front of me this work is
an expression of marinas fear that
humans will not survive the consequences
of climate change if we don’t change our
behavior
they covered in spray and now there’s a
note I will walk instead of drive
I will reuse what I can I will reduce
the waste I create Marina wants to leave
the participants with the feeling that
they should do something good for the
planet we have to save this planet which
we are living in
because what travel are interesting is
to create the literally contract with
the you know with the planet Earth and
give my word of honor that I will do
something to say you are pretty well
known for pushing your body further than
most people would want to push their
bodies here you appear virtually in a
tank of water but I get the sense that
you still did some pretty real stuff to
make it seem as real as possible
you know actually to do this I have to
really be in the water and then we have
to really be in the swimming pool and
with the two divers holding my legs that
I can really go in and sink and feel
what means floaties and what means
actually dying if you don’t have any
more than air to breathe so it’s funny
that you have to do something which is
virtual but you still have to do
physically before you’ve said that you
don’t think your performances can be
captured adequately with with photos or
video because you need to be there you
need the experiences is actually
physically being there and I wonder
whether virtual reality is close enough
to being there that’s why you chose it
because it’s it’s kind of almost being
there as it’s very important that kind
of energy dialogue between audience and
the performer and the only the thing can
catch it was before was just video
because you can get sound in moments
virtual realities is really another
Stepfather
because you can go around the objects
you can interact you can do this but
still I think that so much question how
much energy it carries
I actually can trust Ram be transmitted
from the real performance into that the
virtual body the run of the mesmerising
Marina Abramovic and we’ll hear more
from marina in next week’s program which
is the Christmas show so expect tons of
sensible journalism and no fun
whatsoever maybe in the meantime you can
follow us on Facebook and on Twitter
where we live at BBC click thanks for
watching and we’ll see you next week for
Christmas

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