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Scientists Create Quantum Computer That Can See, Recognize Trees -- How Will It Affect AI Development?

Mar 30, 2017 11:11 AM EDT

What if artificial intelligence has become capable of recognizing objects? Recently, scientists have trained a quantum computer to recognize trees.

It may not be a big deal compared with other developments in the field of AI, but this is an unprecedented step to an age where computers are evidently learning faster with pattern recognition and computer vision.

Edward Boyda of St. Mary's College of California in Moraga and his colleagues analyzed hundreds of NASA satellite images with the help of the D-Wave 2X processor, which has 1,152 qubits.

They "fed" the images to the computer, allowing it to learn various aspects of the features of trees such as hue, saturation and even "light reflectance," versus those of buildings or even roads.

Ramakrishna Nemani from NASA said this is a tricky process as there exists all sorts of trees in cities, making it a bit difficult for the device to actually differentiate areas with trees in a certain map.

According to Science Magazine, the team of researchers used a D-Wave 2X computer, which is an advanced version from Burnaby -- the Canada-based company that created the world's "first" quantum computer back in 2007.

In truth, computers are very much capable of executing complex algorithms, but they take too much memory and processing power as they only store them in bits of 0s or 1s. According to Science Magazine, quantum computers run in quantum bits or qubits, and theoretically, it should be able to solve problems much faster than a traditional computer.

The D-Wave 2X computer achieved 90 percent accuracy in recognizing trees, which is a bit more accurate than a normal computer's performance.

This opens up opportunities as to how quantum computers could be "programmed" to look at various situations to solve them more efficiently. However, it may take a while before quantum computers tackle extremely difficult problems.

For instance, even with NASA's satellite images, a quantum processor may take machine learning months or even years to get close to the next step of tree-analyzing -- weather analysis.

Still, this is a small proof of the attention that quantum computing seems to be getting as it slowly becomes the norm of technologists and experts trying to take a jab in the entire "processing" problem.

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