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One hundred billion reasons to panic

Oh crap.

Ummm…  hey folks,… …remember how I’ve been going on about Quantum Computing since 2011 now, and how I said it will have a bigger impact than the wheel did?

Remember how I said the sheer code-busting power of these computers will be unparalleled in human history? …and how things are going to change at an unprecedented pace?

Well… it turns out I might have been uncomfortably correct about all the above – sorry about that.

On the 9th of December last year, Google announced they had just finished some performance experiments on the D-Wave 2X quantum computer they recently bought in conjunction with NASA.

Those experiments concluded that this band-new computer was 100 million times faster at optimization problems than an average computer’s CPU.

Google also concluded that, while this performance increase was clearly considerable, there was still “more work ahead to turn quantum enhanced optimization into a practical technology.”

This all occurred less than one year ago and involved a D-Wave 2X computer that had 1000 qubits of processing power.

On September 29th this year however, D-Wave proudly unveiled their latest model – a quantum processor now boasting 2000 qubits of processing power – a 100% increase on last year’s model.

So logically speaking, one would suppose this new computer has about twice the performance of the old one… …right?


According to D-Wave, this new processor delivers up to a one thousand percent increase in performance over their previous model, depending on the way the computational processes are structured.

That means this new processor (assuming D-Wave and Google are to be believed) represents potentially a 100 billion percent improvement over standard CPU performance on complex optimization problems.

Is this bullshit? Are D-Wave lying? Are these kinds of exponential improvements in computer performance even physically possible? …because frankly I have no idea: the physics involved and the complexity of the problems is completely beyond my reckoning.

What I do know however,  is D-Wave sold one of their older 1000-qubit computers to the national security lab at Los Alamos research center last year.

Then, barely 12 months later, D-Wave (a Canadian company) announced they’ve formed a brand new US Subsidiary, specifically to provide D-Wave computers to the US Government. 

According to the media release, when you scrutinize the combined work history of this company’s board of directors, it includes:

  • A former US National Security Advisor;
  • A Former Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office
  • A Former Assistant Secretary of the Air Force.
  • A former US Deputy Under-Secretary of Defense (Science & Technology)
  • A former Assistant Secretary of the US Navy;
  • A former Executive Director of the National Security Agency;
  • A current special advisor to the U.S Strategic Command;
  • A former Principal Deputy Director of US National Intelligence;
  • A former Director of the US National Reconnaissance Office;
  • A former Deputy Director of Science and Technology for the CIA;
  • Plus a former Chief Technology Officer at Goldman Sachs, who is also the current CEO of D-Wave itself.

Contemplate for a moment, all the various security credentials the above job descriptions would require;

Then contemplate, if you will, just how much political clout one freshly-formed technology company needs to have, in order to attract that many heavy-hitters on to its governing board.

Regardless of your politics,or what your attitudes might be towards Quantum Computing’s various security considerations – you have to admit… that’s an awful lot of national security expertise for one company to bring together, seemingly in the space of less than a year.

Still think I’m just being paranoid / dramatic about what’s coming down the line technology-wise?

Seriously folks – these are the kinds of press releases that keep me up at night.

(By the way – what do you suppose newly-elected President Donald Trump is going to do with all this code-busting technology, once he gets into office?

…On second thoughts don’t answer that – it’s going to be hard enough getting to sleep tonight as it is.)