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In a hot tub in 2012, physicist Seth Lloyd pitched a quantum internet application to Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page. He called it Quoogle: a search engine that, using mathematics based on the physics of subatomic particles, returns results without ever actually knowing the query. Such an advance would require an entirely new kind of memory, called qRAM, or quantum random access memory.

Though intrigued, Brin and Page turned the idea down, Lloyd told Gizmodo. According to his story, they reminded him that their business model was based on knowing everything about everyone.

But qRAM as an idea hasn’t died. Today’s computers are quite good at remembering data represented by billions of bits, binary code digits that can equal either zero or one. RAM, or random access memory, stores the data short-term on silicon chips, assigning each piece of data a unique address that can be accessed randomly—in any order—to refer to the data later. It makes computer processes much faster, allowing your laptop or phone to quickly access the RAM for data frequently used by programs, rather than the storage, which is much much slower. But one day in the future, computer processors might be supplanted or augmented by quantum computer processors, machines that would be good at searching through huge datasets, machine learning, and artificial intelligence applications. Quantum computers are still a nascent technology, but if they’re ever going to be able to run these potentially lucrative algorithms, they’ll need to access RAM in a whole new way. They’ll require qRAM.

“[QRAM] would be an amazing application, and make the kind of quantum devices that Google and IBM make today instantaneously useful,” Lloyd told Gizmodo.

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