Quantum Bayesian Networks

August 30, 2013

What Will Seth Lloyd’s Quantum Computer Company be Like?

Filed under: Uncategorized — rrtucci @ 2:12 am

Check out this news item:

Quantum Machine Learning for Big-Data, by R. Colin Johnson (eetimes.com, 7/26/2013)

Excerpts in boldface:

“What can we use quantum computers for?” Lloyd said in his ICQT session. “I would like to propose the first quantum app, or q-app, which I call ‘Quantum Machine Learning for Big Quantum Data.’ ”

Hey, how about mentioning your 2 collaborators. I believe their names are Minion A and Minion B.

The first quantum app? I don’t think so. What about Shor and Grover? The Lloyd-app is not even the first one that does machine learning. Long before the Lloyd vaporware, D-Wave/Google and other researchers (including myself) have been writing papers and software for doing AI with a QC.

Lloyd has tried to get commercial funding to develop his q-app, but has so far failed to convince any venture capitalist to fund his project. The reason, he claims, is that his q-app insures that the search engine would not be able to store the user’s queries to add to the reams of information they already store about each of their users.

Maybe the reason VCs don’t bite is because he has no business experience or real interest in running a business, except to get a vanity plate for his car. Maybe they don’t trust him because he exaggerates too much. A case of crying wolf one too many times?

And after losing control of the technology that he claims to have invented, which he says D-Wave is currently using without paying him royalties, this time he has patented his Quantum Machine Learning q-app.

I don’t know what he is talking about. The consensus seems to be that Farhi, Goldstone, Gutmann, and Sipser invented adiabatic quantum computers. Maybe he thinks he invented Josephson junctions or squids?

Lloyd has tested his algorithm — in theory and on a small scale — using a conventional supervised machine learning algorithm operating on his q-bit space that shrinks classical data sets exponentially. And he claims the process worked so well that even the largest data set of all — every bit in the universe, which he describes in his book Programming the Universe, would only require a quantum computer with 300 q-bits to query in real-time.

How about quantum decoherence/error correction and the minor problem of storing the universe inside a subset of itself? I think he should read this brief quote by Feynman.

If you want to learn more about Seth Lloyd, you might want to skim through his book “Programming the Universe” or at least read the hilarious one star comments about the book at Amazon.com. You might also want to check out one of his numerous YouTube videos. Personally, I find those videos Très Void.

And don’t forget to check out the 2 arxiv papers behind this story:

  • Quantum support vector machine for big feature and big data classification, by
    Patrick Rebentrost, Masoud Mohseni, Seth Lloyd (http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.0471)

  • Quantum algorithms for supervised and unsupervised machine learning, by
    Seth Lloyd, Masoud Mohseni, Patrick Rebentrost (http://arxiv.org/abs/1307.0411)

Don’t get me wrong, I think using QCs to do machine learning and AI is a great idea, but I don’t think the work of Lloyd et al is either the first or the final word on this subject.

Seth Lloyd and his collaborators, Minion A and Minion B.

Seth Lloyd and his collaborators, Minion A and Minion B.


  1. I sooooooooooooooo love Minions!

    I want a VC to fund my entangled Minion venture. I want to send oppositely polarized Minions to the far reaches of the Multiverse.

    Think about it. You could find all possible bananas consistent with the Minianthropic Principle in all 10^500 universes where Leonard Susskind did not beat Seth Lloyd to the front of the Airport Novel bestseller list in what you might call an uncensored firewall contention deadlock.

    Minions are too cool for school!

    Comment by Kingsley Jones — August 30, 2013 @ 4:26 am

  2. In the ancient culture of Yezidi that was in fact an indirect descendant of the Gnostics, the Angel Peacock was a paraphrase for the evil god Demurge, or Seitan for others…


    Comment by Elangel Exterminador — August 30, 2013 @ 10:07 am

  3. Indeed Seth Lloyd is such a phony and jerk. Are there any MIT tenured QC professors who are not phonies and jerks?

    Comment by Max Born — August 30, 2013 @ 4:19 pm

  4. It gets better. If you read the acknowledgments in Lloyd’s papers, you’ll find that the work was funded by a child molester!

    Comment by Max Born — August 30, 2013 @ 4:24 pm

  5. […] The Seth Lloyd Quantum Computing Show […]

    Pingback by The Minianthropic Principle | Annals of Post-Medieval Thought — September 1, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

  6. No, Seth is not a phony and a jerk. A phony is someone who pretends to be something that they are not. A jerk is a nasty person who insults people for no reason. Seth is really, really smart, and a nice guy. He has a wry, gentle sense of humor.

    Comment by JG Wollaston — September 3, 2013 @ 7:14 pm

  7. “really nice guy” Like Paul Farmer?

    Comment by rrtucci — September 3, 2013 @ 8:17 pm

  8. It’s very common to find physicists who think their friends (and therefore themselves?) are “really, really smart”, much smarter than the rest. Not just physicists are prone to this (for instance, investment bankers think that way too) although I must say physicists excel at it. I prefer to judge people by their deeds and words. Note that my blog post used an ample number of Lloyd quotes to judge him.

    Comment by rrtucci — September 3, 2013 @ 10:10 pm

  9. Since I am both a physicist and a financial guy I would concur with the last comment🙂 In both physics and finance you find many folks who are genuinely smart. Each career can be very rewarding to people who are simply smart and use their minds well in conventional ways. However, you will note that there are very few investment types who become rich with their own money (not somebody elses) and very few physicists who become known for original ideas (rather than effective development of others). It seems to me that this is the way of the world. It is great to be smart but I prefer to be rich in ideas or get rich with my own money. I don’t think this goal requires the person to be that much smarter than other people. However, it does involve a different sort of quality – comfort in making your own mistakes where you suffer. Sometimes embracing that can make you feel very very stupid. Even though I poke fund at Seth Lloyd too, I have no doubt he is a very smart fellow and a nice guy too in his own circle. He also went his own way early, with his quantum algorithms, and that deserves respect. The reason I pay out on physics today is just because my own competitive nature is to put the whole show out of business with a new business model. Everyone gets to be an asshole in their own way🙂 It is the way of the world.

    Comment by Kingsley Jones — September 4, 2013 @ 1:16 am

  10. Two nerds from MIT!. One(Scott), who trashes D-wave as useless. The other(Seth), who claims that D-Wave stole his IP!. I think these two should talk.

    Comment by Sol Warda — September 4, 2013 @ 5:28 am

  11. I heard he’s funded from a prof in Louisiana

    Comment by noospheer — September 7, 2013 @ 6:31 am

  12. ** prof retracts his statement.

    Comment by noospheer — September 7, 2013 @ 10:57 pm

  13. I hesitate to address you as gentlemen.

    I am saddened to see so many mean-spirited people here disparaging Seth. I read his book. I’ve seen his lectures. He is a good, moral man, a productive citizen. Where does this hatred and disrespect come from?

    Comment by JG Wollaston — September 11, 2013 @ 7:04 am

  14. Wollaston, most quantum information scientists (and scientists in general) prefer to follow than to lead. For some strange reason, they fear greatly that their field’s goals may actually be realized, and sooner rather than later (people in this field love to comfortably place scalable QC 50 years in the future so the pressure isn’t on them to solve the problem near term). For these reasons they will attack the personal character of those with large claims, no matter how accomplished and successful that person has been in their endeavors so far.

    Comment by noospheer — September 11, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

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