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Why You Should Be Paying Attention to Quantum Computing

Quantum computing might as well prove to be the next big thing. It's almost guaranteed to improve by leaps and bounds, partially thanks to the advancement of AI. It's the one to keep an eye on. Here, we'll explain why.
Daniel Zacharias

Eugenio de Tomaso

July 20, 2023
quantum computing

Nowadays, it feels like everyone’s obsessed with artificial intelligence. From its infinite possibilities to potential threats to the fabric of society, it’s everywhere. We’re basically seeing wall-to-wall coverage in the media.

There is, however, an equally important kind of tech that no one seems to be talking about. It’s revolutionary, ground-breaking, and can disrupt the world as we know it. Sounds dramatic? It could be.

Quantum computing might as well prove to be the next big thing. It’s almost guaranteed to improve by leaps and bounds, partially thanks to the advancement of AI. It’s the one to keep an eye on. Here, we’ll explain why.

What is quantum computing?

Everyone has a basic idea of classical physics. Gravity, acoustics, all that sort of stuff makes perfect sense. For the most part, anyway. Quantum physics is a bit different.

At very small scales, on an atomic and subatomic level, physical matter doesn’t really behave the way you’d expect it to. When observed under a particularly powerful microscope, it exhibits properties of both particles and waves. On a very basic level, that’s quantum mechanics for you.

So how does this relate to computers? Quantum computing leverages the above-described behavior using highly specialized hardware. Of course, the whole thing is still in its embryonic phase but it could prove to be the next big step for humanity.

In fact, in 2019, an experiment proved that quantum computers can indeed outperform even the most powerful supercomputers.

How do they work?

Your regular computer uses bits. These can be either 0 or 1. Quantum computers, on the other hand, rely on qubits which can exist in a multidimensional state. Classical computers increase their power linearly. Quantum machines grow exponentially with every new qubit. That’s what gives them a great head start.

They rely on superconductors such as Josephson junctions to avoid resistance. Such a dynamic environment enables each qubit to assume a superposition and create complex, multidimensional computational spaces.

Why pay attention to it?

The following may still sit in the domain of theory but the sort of theory that may soon become a reality. It’s safe to assume that a scalable quantum computer could perform tasks exponentially faster than any tech we have now. It could break widely-used encryption schemes and open up a plethora of new possibilities.

For example, physical simulations could include more variables, making them a lot more accurate. This could have its application in engineering, architecture, scientific research, and even space travel. Sounds impressive? There’s more.

Getting from A to B

Scheduling, routing, and logistics are something today’s computers tend to struggle with. Let’s say you’re looking for an optimal solution to the “traveling-salesperson problem”. You want to visit a number of cities scattered around the country but you wish to use the shortest possible route. Quantum computers perform this task better.

This opens doors for improved traffic optimization tests which, in turn, save time, energy, and money, and even minimize emissions. Basically, you can avoid traffic jams even before they happen.

Improved forecasting with AI and ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have already made great progress. Just look at how far natural language processing (NLP) has come. Quantum computing could give them an additional boost. Qubit-based machines may provide faster and more efficient optimization routes. They could also help explore new models and architectures.

In practical terms, this spells good news for analyzing, forecasting, and foreseeing. We’re talking about benefits for banking, finance, risk management, and other sectors that have to deal with vast amounts of data from multiple sources .

Fighting climate change

Speaking of forecasting, we can’t possibly avoid touching upon the weather. There’s no denying that human action has had a massive impact on it. Fortunately, it’s in human hands to reverse the damage, and quantum computing could play a role. After all, it could help gather and process information more accurately than modern algorithms.

These computers could also create simulations and help us understand how each change we implement could affect future generations.

Computers building computers

Ok, this may sound like the stuff of sci-fi but it could also be closer than we think. Here’s how it could work. Quantum computers themselves can help us learn about, create, and manipulate other quantum systems. Computer chips, energy technologies, scientific instruments, and communication devices could all drastically improve. Computers building computers? It could be the next logical step.

Qubit-powered healthcare

Computers have already made a substantial change in the way researchers and medical professionals approach healthcare. Quantum computing has the ability to take it to a whole new level.

Drug design normally requires lengthy and costly clinical trials. With the advent of human organs-on-chips or in silicon trials, things are likely to speed up a lot. A quantum computer could root out therapies from a database of molecular structures. Conducting virtual experiments on all possible molecules would take seconds.

And there’s more! Sequencing and analyzing DNA at full speed might as well be just around the corner. Wearable health sensors and tiny medical gadgets could process zettabytes of data. This would, in turn, make way for a near-perfect decision support system.

The dark side

Naturally, like all human inventions, this one too has the potential for creating problems. It’s no secret that there are more than a few concerns surrounding AI. Quantum computing is no different.

Perhaps the most obvious quantum-related issue arises in the domain of online security. Even the most secure 128-bit AES encryption (widely used by government institutions) couldn’t withstand a qubit-fueled attack.

Such new technology could quickly compromise the security of the internet on a global scale. It’s important for institutions to act quickly and develop “post-quantum” cryptography standards.

When will quantum computers become available?

No invention is truly revolutionary until it becomes available to the masses. Fortunately, major players in the field are working hard on developing this technology.

IBM has a plan to have a 1,000-qubit computer up and running by 2024. Google AI plans to launch its version via cloud.3. Microsoft already offers companies access to some basic quantum technology via its Azure Quantum platform.

Financial giants like JPMorgan Chase and VISA are already showing interest. At this point, it’s only a matter of time before quantum computing will trickle down to us, common folk.

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