Carver Mead on the Need to Leap Ahead with Quantum Computing

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carver.meadx299Over at MIT Technology Review, Tom Simonite interviews Carver Mead, the computer scientist who came up with the term, “Moore’s Law” and helped bring it to fruition. Mead now contends that engineers should experiment with quantum mechanics to advance computing.

The personal preface to that is I got frustrated because what people are doing now is basically a bunch of hacks. You do this problem this way, and you do that problem that way, and to me that’s a symptom of not having a coherent conceptualization of everything. It’s frustrating to me because I’ve always loved this subject. The optics guys have sort of found a way through all that, in spite of the way that quantum mechanics is taught. Charlie Townes [inventor of the maser, precursor to the laser] went and visited Heisenberg, Bohr, and Von Neumann, and they basically said, “Sonny, you don’t seem to understand how quantum mechanics works.” Well, it wasn’t Charlie that didn’t understand. Optical communication has just bypassed everything we’re doing electronically, because it’s so much more effective—working deep in the quantum limit has really paid off.

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  1. Sharan Kalwani says

    I find it highly appropriate that we see this point of view, i.e. that we need to dive hard into the fundamental of Q Mechanics/Computing, so that we can advance a lot further. Lots of current day progress has been indeed been incremental and heavy optimizing of the current Silicon logic state of the art over the years.

    Those lessons should be however kept in mind during the QC phase (D-WAVE and others), so we can meet the challenges before us (follow up to the ExaScale and beyond).