D-Wave’s Year of Computing Dangerously

After a year of outside investigation, questions remain about a controversial quantum computer

5 min read
D-Wave’s Year of Computing Dangerously
Soul of The Machine: What’s going on inside the D-Wave Two is still a matter of debate.
Photo: D-Wave Systems

When in 1935 physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed his thought experiment involving a cat that could be both dead and alive, he could have been talking about D-Wave Systems. The Canadian start-up is the maker of what it claims is the world’s first commercial-scale quantum computer. But exactly what its computer does and how well it does it remain as frustratingly unknown as the health of Schrödinger’s poor puss. D-Wave has succeeded in attracting big-name customers such as Google and Lockheed Martin Corp. But many scientists still doubt the long-term viability of D-Wave’s technology, which has defied scientific understanding of quantum computing from the start.

D-Wave has spent the last year trying to solidify its claims and convince the doubters. “We have the world’s first programmable quantum computer, and we have third-party results to prove it computes,” says Vern Brownell, CEO of D-Wave.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

The Spectacular Collapse of CryptoKitties, the First Big Blockchain Game

A cautionary tale of NFTs, Ethereum, and cryptocurrency security

8 min read
Mountains and cresting waves made of cartoon cats and large green coins.
Frank Stockton

On 4 September 2018, someone known only as Rabono bought an angry cartoon cat named Dragon for 600 ether—an amount of Ethereum cryptocurrency worth about US $170,000 at the time, or $745,000 at the cryptocurrency’s value in July 2022.

It was by far the highest transaction yet for a nonfungible token (NFT), the then-new concept of a unique digital asset. And it was a headline-grabbing opportunity for CryptoKitties, the world’s first blockchain gaming hit. But the sky-high transaction obscured a more difficult truth: CryptoKitties was dying, and it had been for some time.

Keep Reading ↓Show less