Metcalfe's Law: Right? Wrong?

3 min read

We knew our September issue on technology and terrorism would raise hackles. But we didn’t realize that our July feature ”Metcalfe’s Law Is Wrong” by Bob Briscoe, Andrew Odlyzko, and Benjamin Tilly would churn up its own little storm of controversy, drawing remarks from none other than Bob Metcalfe himself. The inventor of Ethernet, founder of 3Com Corp., and recipient of the 1996 IEEE Medal of Honor rebutted our authors’ arguments in a late summer guest posting on VC Mike’s Blog (http://vcmike.wordpress.com). The site is run by Mike Hirshland, who, like Metcalfe, is a general partner in Polaris Venture Partners, in Waltham, Mass.

When we caught up with Metcalfe, he seemed more tickled than ticked off, encouraging us to start a discussion on his response to ”the Spectrum attack on my law, by which attack I am delighted.” The difference of opinion has more than mathematical significance. It has direct bearing on the value of dot-com businesses that exploit expanding social networks. To keep it all straight, we suggest you first reread the Spectrum article and then peruse Metcalfe’s post (http://vcmike.wordpress.com/2006/08/18/metcalfe-social-networks).

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An IBM Quantum Computer Will Soon Pass the 1,000-Qubit Mark

The Condor processor is just one quantum-computing advance slated for 2023

4 min read
This photo shows a woman working on a piece of apparatus that is suspended from the ceiling of the laboratory.

A researcher at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center examines some of the quantum hardware being constructed there.

Connie Zhou/IBM

IBM’s Condor, the world’s first universal quantum computer with more than 1,000 qubits, is set to debut in 2023. The year is also expected to see IBM launch Heron, the first of a new flock of modular quantum processors that the company says may help it produce quantum computers with more than 4,000 qubits by 2025.

This article is part of our special report Top Tech 2023.

While quantum computers can, in theory, quickly find answers to problems that classical computers would take eons to solve, today’s quantum hardware is still short on qubits, limiting its usefulness. Entanglement and other quantum states necessary for quantum computation are infamously fragile, being susceptible to heat and other disturbances, which makes scaling up the number of qubits a huge technical challenge.

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