There’s a Race Going on
A long-form podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience features comedian Joe Rogan interviewing some of the most interesting people on the planet, including actors, musicians, MMA fighters, authors, and artists.
Earlier this month, Rogan was able to chat with theoretical physicist, futurist and science communicator, Michio Kaku. Kaku, who is a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center, has also authored several books on physics and related subjects and has appeared on radio, television and in films.
So, it was Kaku, then, to give the podcast’s audience his view into what quantum computing is and where it’s heading. We have specifically left out some of the more hyped up claims in this coverage and we advise viewer discretion. In particular some of the claims of what a quantum computer can do are highly disputed.
“Well, there’s a race going on. A race between China and the United States. Between IBM and Google. A race to dominate the next generation of computers because Silicon Valley could become a rustbelt,” began Kaku, not taking it lightly from the start. “Think about that, the digital computer of today could be like the abacus of years gone by. We’re talking about the computer of today could become obsolete with this race to perfect the next generation, which is quantum computers.”
He then gave a brief overview of what distinguishes a quantum computer from its classical brother:
“Instead of competing on transistors, we’re competing on atoms. Think about that. This is the ultimate computer. There is nothing smaller than what you can do with atoms. And that’s what these quantum computers compute with. And it raises all sorts of problems.”
Kaku then stated that the CIA is concerned that quantum computers will bypass its own security walls and other security measures, also noting that industries will be created out of nothing, too.
Turned Upside Down
“Medicine is going to be turned upside down,” he continued, though some in the quantum industry argue that Kaku is flagrantly overhyping the market. “Energy production, entertainment, and every aspect of society will be changed with quantum computers. And that’s why there’s this race, a race to perfect the quantum computer.”
Rogan’s response to Kaku’s claim was interesting:
“Now what’s the worst-case scenario if one of these American corporations, let’s just say Microsoft, wins the race and they develop some sort of functional quantum computer that just blows everything else out of the water — they essentially become like a superpower?”
“That’s right,” said Kaku. “Remember when IBM dominated everything and then Microsoft comes along? A bunch of teenagers come along. Everyone thought these are a bunch of teenagers, what can they do, right? And then these teenagers took over the world. So we’re talking about something on that scale. That’s a company that can make a breakthrough to make a workable, general-purpose quantum computer, who wouldn’t want to buy one?” adding that with this scenario we’re talking about a runaway bestseller by then.
Rogan made the good point that the power that’s attached to being in that position is so incredible that anyone wielding it will likely be unmatched.
Just a Toy
“You remember the PC before Bill Gates and his company?”, Kaku continued, “The PC was a toy, a toy in museums, basically. I mean, it was something that you showed your friends, but you couldn’t do anything with it. And then comes Microsoft, we showed you, no no, we can do things. You can do your income tax, you can do spreadsheets, you can do this and this and then it just took off.”
Although excited about where quantum computing is heading, Kaku still has his feet somewhat on the ground:
“So, we’re at a stage now where the computer is still not ready to be used for general-purpose calculations. But when it does happen, we’re talking about virtual chemistry, virtual biology. Everyone’s gonna want to jump in the game.”
Featured image: The Joe Rogan Experience