Quantum computing is an evolving technology that has the potential to change the way organizations use and implement computing products. Although theories pertaining to quantum computing have been around for several decades, the technology never really made it into the mainstream up until a few years ago.
You’re probably wondering, “What is quantum computing and how will it impact the future of computers?” Let’s take a look into the intricacies of quantum computing and highlight some of the recent advancements of this rapidly evolving technology.
What is Quantum Computing?
When you look up the definition of quantum computing, you’ll likely find a university level blurb on how researchers believe that they can use theoretical computations in conjunction with quantum-mechanical phenomena in order to perform advanced operations with data.
As you may know, a traditional desktop computer uses a series of 0’s and 1’s in order to process and store data. Quantum computing makes use of quantum bits, which are more commonly known as qubits. Quantum computing researchers say that qubits can possess the value of 0 or 1 or a superposition of multiple values. While this explanation provides you with a 50,000 foot view of the basics of quantum computing, entire university level courses are being offered free of charge by the University of California at Berkeley which can provide you with a deeper understanding of how quantum computing works.
If you are unable to enroll in Berkley’s Quantum Computing course, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently stunned an audience when he provided an accurate breakdown of what quantum computing is and how it can benefit the human race in this short video clip.
Examining the Quantum Computing Technology That is Available Today
Quantum computing is currently being used by researchers, multinational corporations, nation states and intelligence agencies. NewScientist reported in 2014 that D-Wave Systems was selling quantum computing technology for $15M per system. As a caveat, the article mentions D-Wave System’s “Quantum computer” may not be a quantum computer at all.
Bo Ewald, CEO of D-Wave USA was quoted as saying, “We’re not in the business of trying to prove whether it’s quantum or not.” Ewald goes on to say, “We don’t know how much coherence we’ve got, but we’ve shown that eight qubits were entangled and some external work showed 40 were entangled.”
D-Wave says that their quantum computer is designed to rapidly perform complex computations. Lockheed Martin, Google and others are rumored to be dabbling with the technology.
Could Quantum Computers Make Encryption Obsolete?
Most enterprises use encryption in order to scramble data when it is in motion or at rest. Could quantum computers be used to crack today’s most challenging encryption schemes?
The British Broadcasting Company recently filmed a documentary called “Defeating the Hackers” where researchers believe that they can use quantum computers to crack modern encryption schemes. In fact, the researchers mention that they must run their quantum computer slightly above absolute zero in order to keep the quantum processors adequately cooled.
Remember how we said that a qubit can use superpositions in addition to 1’s and 0’s? This unique architecture provides quantum computing with the ability to consider all possible answers to mathematical problem. Since the entire premise of encryption is based upon complex mathematical equations, it is entirely possible that quantum computers could be scaled up to defeat these algorithms.
Quantum Computing: Is there a Business or Consumer Case?
While quantum computing is only being used by researchers, does quantum computing have a place in the consumer or enterprise markets?
It is too early to tell if futuristic consumer technology will contain quantum processors. While anything is possible, it’s more likely that quantum computing clusters will exist in data centers. Businesses will need to develop methods of making quantum computing useful to the consumer.
Technology that uses quantum computing will likely make its consumer debut as some sort of service that can be purchased and utilized from a public cloud service provider. Application developers could potentially tap into the cloud hosted quantum clusters using an API, thus providing the consumer with apps and devices that are powered by the next generation of computing.
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