Quantum Computing: 4 Incredible Realities To Explore

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If someone asked you to picture the future of computers in your head, what would you see? You would probably imagine a minuscule black box with physics magic going inside or super fast moving particles. But, most importantly. It would be hard to imagine exactly what a computer from the future looks like. 

Quantum computer housing

That’s because future quantum computers are not like traditional personal computers, laptops, or server farms. So, follow along this blog for a primer on this transformative technology.

What Is Quantum Computing?

It all started 3 decades ago when the future of computers was first proposed. In 1980, physicist Paul Beniof simulated the first quantum mechanics computing model. Ever since, quantum computing technology rapidly emerged, harnessing the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers in terms of processing speed and capacity. 

Until 2019, when Google researchers introduced Sycamore. Sycamore was the breakthrough quantum computer capable of carrying out a calculation in 3 minutes and 20 seconds that would classically need 10,000 years to be performed. That’s to say that quantum machines are very transformative from the classical computers that have been around for more than half a century. 

How Is Quantum Computing Different?

Classical computers work by processing information and sequencing digital units represented in bits of 0s and 1s. These units are used in quantum computers, but are called quantum bits or qubits. Qubits don’t have to process information sequentially because they mimic the atoms’ behavior to increase processing speed. This is superposition.

In the quantum realm, superposition is possible. The superposition principle is used by qubits in quantum computers to be at the same time a 0 and a 1. It’s effectively multitasking. This is what makes a qubit so powerful. 

Qubits can also form inextricable bonds. When qubits are entangled together,  quantum computers’ processing power increases exponentially. For example, at 300 qubits you can run more information than all atoms of the universe. 

What Is Quantum Computing Used For?

Quantum computers succeed when classical computers fail. 

  • Quantum Simulations

One of the operations that classical computers fail to do is quantum simulations, leaving humanity with a huge deterrent in scientific quantum mechanics research. While quantum computers already behave like atoms fundamentally, they are built to simulate atoms operationally.

  • Cybersecurity

In today’s internet scoop, our lives are entirely online. The thought of having your life data and metadata online is definitely scary, but one reassurance is encryption. Encryption and public key cryptography have been proven infinitely secure. Why so sure?

Because it would take a classic computer a period longer than the age of the universe to crack one single encryption key. But, when it comes to quantum computing algorithms, these can render all modern day cryptography completely useless. 

  • Quantum Search

Quantum computing algorithms use a technology called quantum search. Unlike a search on a regular computer for an answer that already exists somewhere in databases, quantum computers search for one solution out of billions and billions of potential answers.

For example, searching for an old strong password made of upper and lower case letters and special characters would require 174 years for the most advanced classic computer to find it. A quantum search can find it in 7 seconds.

  • Machine Learning

Machine learning already exists and classic computers are excelling in it. However, if quantum computers team up with classic ones, they would take ML on a whole new level. That’s because quantum computers can model extremely complex scenarios and solve computational problems at drastically higher speeds.

Quantum computers have taught themselves to recognize cars or traffic lights in low resolution images that robots can never see. 

  • Healthcare

You’re familiar with quantum computing simulations at this point, but healthcare and biology simulations will blow your mind once again. Simulating protein sequences was always a struggle for classic and even supercomputers. 

Proteins are long sequences of amino acids that fold into trillion options of complex shapes. Simulating how proteins will fold is the real value of quantum simulations for biology and medicine. Quantum computing’s valuable contributions are seemingly endless, so, let’s fast forward to why quantum computers aren’t in every household yet.

What Challenges Quantum Computing Is Facing?

  • Environmental Challenges

If you were to own a quantum computer, you would have to store it in your freezer. As funny as it sounds, quantum computers are highly unstable and sensitive to environmental disturbances like temperature or dust. 

Quantum computers must be held in temperatures cooled to near-absolute zero. To handle data, quantum memory records light particles into the atomic cloud.

  • Operational Challenges

Also to be fully operational and commercially viable, quantum computers need one million qubits working in harmony. Humanity’s highest record is only 100 qubits. Qubits that make quantum computers so powerful make them so delicate at the same time.

Disturbances in qubits harmony can lead the whole system to fall apart. This phenomenon is scientifically called decoherence. Decoherence happens so frequently that the amount of time a qubit can store memory before succumbing to decoherence is less than 1 minute.

  • Security challenges

Quantum computers can be perceived as threats to national security due to their advances in quantum decryption that we discussed earlier. With their decryption abilities, quantum cryptanalysis can put the most current communications infrastructure and military strategies at risk of exploitation. 

In a time when governments increasingly impose internet standards and protocols, seek to regulate the flow of information, and localize data within their borders, quantum research could vanish all of these efforts. Questions remain about how quantum computing can be used or misused in our future, but still, labs all over the world today are racing to build the first commercially viable quantum computer that would revolutionize our reality.

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