Mysteriously, the paper describing the breakthrough disappeared.
According to a now-deleted paper spotted by the Financial Times on NASA’s Technical Reports Server last week, Google researchers have achieved “quantum supremacy” — in other words, their quantum computer managed to complete a computational task faster than a conventional computer processor. The paper was promptly deleted and Google has yet to confirm the achievement.
The race between the quantum and traditional computer wasn’t even close: according to the document, Google’s “Sycamore” superconducting processor, which sports 53 qubits, quickly solved a problem that would’ve taken a classical computer 10,000 years to solve.
After news emerged of the milestone, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang warned on Twitter that Google’s computers could be used to break encryption of today’s computers. But experts believe encryption cracking using quantum computers is still many years out, Wired reports.
The problem Google’s quantum computer solved isn’t going to be particularly useful in the real world, as Physics World notes, as the task involved verifying the randomness of binary numbers — something that doesn’t have a ton of use cases.
But it’s still an impressive proof of concept for the power of quantum computing.
READ MORE: Google reports quantum supremacy in draft paper [Physics World]
More on quantum computers: IBM Just Unveiled Its First Commercial Quantum Computer