“I’ve been doing combative stuff since I was born,” says Geordie Rose, leaning back in a chair in his small, windowless office in Burnaby, Canada, as he describes how he has spent most of his life making things difficult for himself. Until his early 20s, that meant an obsession with wrestling — the sport that, he claims, provides the least reward for the most work. More recently, says Rose, now 41, “that’s been D-Wave in a nutshell: an unbearable amount of pain and very little recognition”.
The problem of lack of recognition is fast disappearing for D-Wave, the world’s first and so far only company making quantum computers. After initial disbelief and ridicule from the research community, Rose and his firm are now being taken more seriously — not least by aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, which bought one of D-Wave’s computers in 2011 for about US$10 million, and Internet behemoth Google, which acquired one in May.
But the pain has been real — much of it, critics would argue, brought on by Rose himself. In 2007, his company announced its first working computer with a showy public demonstration at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California. By the current standards of quantum computing — which in theory offers huge advances in computing power — the device’s performance was astonishing…
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