Google says it has developed a kind of quantum computer capable of identifying objects that appear in digital photos and videos. According to the company, the system outperforms the classical algorithms running across its current network of worldwide data centers.
Hartmut Neven, Google technical lead manager for image recognition, recently unveiled the company’s ongoing quantum computing work with a post to the company’s research blog, saying he was due to demonstrate the technology at last week’s Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Vancouver.
“Many Google services we offer depend on sophisticated artificial intelligence technologies such as machine learning or pattern recognition,” Neven writes. “If one takes a closer look at such capabilities one realizes that they often require the solution of what mathematicians call hard combinatorial optimization problems. It turns out that solving the hardest of such problems requires server farms so large that they can never be built.
“A new type of machine, a so-called quantum computer, can help here.”
Harmut Neven joined Google in 2006, when the web giant acquired his image search startup, Neven Vision. In 2007, at the SC07 supercomputing conference, Neven joined D-Wave in demonstrating the Canadian company’s alleged quantum computer, and Neven now confirms that Google has spent the past three years working in tandem with D-Wave on a quantum system designed to identify images.
“Google has studied how problems such as recognizing an object in an image or learning to make an optimal decision based on example data can be made amenable to solution by quantum algorithms,” he says. “These algorithms promise to find higher quality solutions for optimization problems than obtainable with classical solvers.”