SANTA BARBARA, California—Early this autumn, a paper leaked on a NASA site indicating Google engineers had built and tested hardware that achieved what’s termed “quantum supremacy,” completing calculations that would be impossible on a traditional computer. The paper was quickly pulled offline, and Google remained silent, leaving the rest of us to speculate about their plans for this device and any follow-ons the company might be preparing.
That speculation ended today, as Google released the final version of the paper that had leaked. But perhaps more significantly, the company invited the press to its quantum computing lab, talked about its plans, and gave us time to chat with the researchers behind the work.
The supremacy result
“I’m not going to bother explaining the quantum supremacy paper—if you were invited to come here, you probably all read the leaked paper,” quipped Hartmut Neven, the head of Google’s Quantum AI lab. But he found it hard to resist the topic entirely, and the other people who talked with reporters were more than happy to expand on Neven’s discussion.