An artificial intelligence program attempt to crack the mindbendingly complex Enigma code used by the Germans during the second world war. It did so in 12 minutes and 50 seconds.
Having already machine read some German language training data from Grimm’s Fairy Tales, the AI program crunched through billions of permutations generated by the four-rotor Enigma machine sifting combinations of letters for their “Germanness”.
No wonder quantum computing has become the subject of such hype. Machines that harness the weirdness of quantum mechanics are so alien — and promise such massive theoretical leaps in performance — that it is easy to believe nothing will be the same again.
Full-scale quantum machines are probably many years away. But in the meantime, a “good enough” form of the technology — not revolutionary but promising significant advances for some applications — is on the horizon. The world will not change overnight, but development timetables already show practical quantum machines arriving much sooner than seemed likely only a short time ago.
The hype that has been building around quantum computing, a potentially revolutionary technology that has been a dream of physicists and computer scientists for 35 years, is about to get a big boost.
Two scientific milestones are expected to be announced in the coming weeks by two of the world’s biggest technology companies that will highlight the rapid advances now being made in the field. But whether they also point to useful commercial applications in the near term is another matter.