In cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association, a nonprofit research corporation that works with NASA, the search giant has founded the Quantum Artificial Intelligence Lab which will “study artificial intelligence by means of computers that use the unusual properties of quantum physics.”
The computer in question, made by D-Wave Systems of Burnaby, British Columbia, “works by framing complex problems in terms of optimal outcomes. The classic example of this type of problem is figuring out the most efficient way a traveling salesman can visit 10 customers, but real-world problems now include hundreds of such variables and contingencies. D-Wave’s machine frames the problem in terms of energy states, and uses quantum physics to rapidly determine an outcome that satisfies the variables with the least use of energy.”
The lab will also invite outside researchers and will work on ‘machine learning,’ a field of research that focuses on the study of systems, particularly how those systems can ‘learn’ from data. Useful for large environmental analysis, finance and healthcare but also important “for things like facial or voice recognition, biological behavior, or the management of very large and complex systems.”
It is interesting, in terms of framing where this research might be going, that the lab will be hosted at NASA’s Ames Research Facility and that investors in D-Wave include Goldman Sachs and Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos.