Revolt! Scientists Say They’re Sick of Quantum Computing’s Hype
A Twitter account called Quantum Bullshit Detector reflects some researchers’ angst about overhyped claims and other troubling trends.
by SOPHIA CHEN
This spring, a mysterious figure by the name of Quantum Bullshit Detector strolled onto the Twitter scene. Posting anonymously, they began to comment on purported breakthroughs in quantum computing—claims that the technology will speed up artificial intelligence algorithms, manage financial risk at banks, and break all encryption. The account preferred to express its opinions with a single word: “Bullshit.”
The provocations perplexed experts in the field. Because of the detector’s familiarity with jargon and the accounts it chose to follow, the person or persons behind the account seemed be part of the quantum community. Researchers were unaccustomed to such brazen trolling from someone in their own ranks. “So far it looks pretty well-calibrated, but […] vigilante justice is a high-risk affair,” physicist Scott Aaronson wrote on his blog a month after the detector’s debut. People discussed online whether to take the account’s opinions seriously.
“There is some confusion. Quantum Bullshit Detector cannot debate you. It can only detect quantum bullshit. This is why we are Quantum Bullshit Detector!” the account tweeted in response.
In the subsequent months, the account has called bullshit on statements in academic journals such as Nature and journalism publications such as Scientific American, Quanta, and yes, an article written by me in WIRED. Google’s so-called quantum supremacy demonstration? Bullshit. Andrew Yang’s tweet about Google’s quantum supremacy demonstration? Bullshit. Quantum computing pioneer Seth Lloyd accepting money from Jeffrey Epstein? Bullshit.