Japan has unveiled its first quantum computer prototype, amid a global race to build ever-more powerful machines with faster speeds and larger brute force that are key towards realising the full potential of artificial intelligence.
“We will seek to further improve the prototype so that the quantum computer can tackle problems with near-infinite combinations that are difficult to solve, even by modern computers at high speed,” said Stanford University Professor Emeritus Yoshihisa Yamamoto, who is heading the project.
Monday’s launch is Japan’s signal of intent in a quantum computing race with other major players including the United States and China. The US devotes US$200 million yearly for quantum computing research, while China is building a US$10 billion research centre for quantum applications. Japan has set aside 30 billion yen for quantum computing over a decade starting in April.
Quantum computers differ from conventional supercomputers in that they rely on theoretical particle physics and run on subatomic particles such as electrons in sub-zero temperatures.
Most quantum computers, for this reason, destabilise easily and are error-prone, thereby limiting their functions.