Will Quantum Computing Ever Live Up to Its Hype?

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Quantum computers have been on my mind a lot lately. A friend who likes investing in tech, and who knows about my attempt to learn quantum mechanics, has been sending me articles on how quantum computers might help solve “some of the biggest and most complex challenges we face as humans,” as a Forbes commentator declared recently. My friend asks, “What do you think, Mr. Science Writer? Are quantum computers really the next big thing?” I’ve also had exchanges with two quantum-computing experts with distinct perspectives on the technology’s prospects. One is computer scientist Scott Aaronson, who has, as I once put it, “one of the highest intelligence/pretension ratios I’ve ever encountered.” Not to embarrass him further, but I see Aaronson as the conscience of quantum computing, someone who helps keep the field honest. The other...