Quantum Computing and Journalistic Bias (Part 4)

In these series of articles I will be exploring articles on quantum computing from a variety of different sources, and showing how no one really knows the future, and to read everything you see with a grain of salt.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at an article by Martin Giles from the MIT Technology review!

Note: Please do read Martin Gile’s article (linked below) before you read this one, as this is a response and analysis to his work.

Giles, Martin. “Here’s What Quantum Supremacy Does-and Doesn’t-Mean for Computing.” MIT Technology Review,, 23 Oct. 2019.Web. 12/8/19. www.technologyreview.com/s/614423/quantum-computing-and-quantum-supremacy/.

The reality of where Quantum computing is now, and while it may be something bigger in the future, it has been overhyped

Opinion piece

In this article, Giles takes the position that quantum computing will in the near future not be as disruptive a force as “the hype” around this technology advertises. The article mainly is a fact check on quantum computing, and concludes that the technology should not be suppressed.

The author takes the view that quantum computing, while technologically monumental, will not in fact do much to change the world. Giles argues that politicians and the media, each intoxicated by the wizardry of science, are overhyping this technology, when in reality it may only have a marginal effect on the immediate future as we know it. The intended audience are interested readers with a general education, who have either read about quantum computers online or have heard about them from their local politician, and who may (in Giles’s opinion) have been wrongly told that quantum computing represents a return back to either the garden of Eden or to Armageddon. With this audience in mind, the purpose of this article is to ground the reader in reality; to convince him or her that the hype that is being generated by the media may not reflect reality. Giles writes “ Google’s achievement is significant, but quantum computers haven’t suddenly turned into computing colossi that will leave conventional machines trailing in the dust.” Quantum computing is not going to somehow make all government secrets available to terrorists, and it also is not magically on its own going to cure cancer.

Though the purpose of this article is to dissuade readers from the hype, it does not mean that the author intends to show quantum computing as inconsequential. In support of quantum computing, the author cites Nick Farina, CEO of the hardware startup EeroQ, who states “There’s less doubt now that quantum computers can be the future of high-performance computing.” Giles, in fact, does not dispute the actual future usefulness of this technology. Citing research from reputable sources, the paper from Nasa, as well as Google professor John M. Martinis, the author makes the point that no one really knows whether the future predictions given by scientists in 2020 will in fact be realized. When looking at emerging technologies, it is often incredibly difficult to calculate their effect on the world as it advances. However, drawing a parallel to a prior technology “the microchip”, the author argues that when these were first being tested, the vast majority of the scientific community believed that they were far too situational and weak to ever be used broadly in modern computing. As time progressed, however, microchips almost overnight became the way that computer information was processed. The exponentially greater amount of data these chips could process led to the rise of big data as we know it today. Similarly, quantum computers could very well have the same trajectory as the technology matures.

Giles’s work contrasts the opinions on quantum computing of many authors, giving the reader a grounding in the science, the promise, and the fantasy that surrounds this technology. While not dismissing the possibility that quantum computers may provide a paradigm shift, the author stresses that currently it remains unclear how to translate this technology into real-world changes.