December 16, 2019
Imagine in 2019, even computers are oppressing black folks.
A Google computer recently achieved “quantum supremacy,” performing a calculation that’d be impossible on a regular machine. Some scientists are up in arms – not at the breakthrough, but because “supremacy” sounds vaguely racist.
Put short, a quantum computer developed by Google managed to perform a calculation in 200 seconds that would have taken the world’s most powerful supercomputer 10,000 years. The research paper on the calculation is published in Nature, the world’s leading multidisciplinary science journal, with the title “Quantum supremacy using a programmable superconducting processor.”
Some scientists were ecstatic, with one comparing the moment to the Wright Brothers’ first flight in 1903. Others were outraged. A group of 13 scientists signed a letter published in Nature, decrying the term “quantum supremacy” as racist.
Science journal @nature published a paper on 'quantum supremacy:' supercomputers processing in 200 secs what a normal computer would process in 10,000 yrs.
— Claire Lehmann 🎄 (@clairlemon) December 15, 2019
“In our view, ‘supremacy’ has overtones of violence, neocolonialism and racism through its association with ‘white supremacy,’” they wrote. “We call for the community to use ‘quantum advantage’ instead.”
Because everything is racist in 2019, the group wasn’t done there. “Inherently violent language has crept into other branches of science as well,” they continued. “In human and robotic spaceflight, for example, terms such as ‘conquest,’ ‘colonization’ and ‘settlement’ evoke the terra nullius arguments of settler colonialism and must be contextualized against ongoing issues of neocolonialism.”
It’s time to take a stand against computers.