5 Major Implications of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing has been around since the 1980s, but as of last year things began to get very interesting. Canadian company D-Wave Systems announced that it had created the first 1000+ qubit quantum computer, and the ultra-powerful machine was snapped up by a number of organisations including Google and NASA. Quantum computers deal with information using qubits, which are quantum bits (basic units of information). A regular bit can exist in one of two forms: 0 or 1. A qubit, however, can exist as both simultaneously. It takes eight regular bits to store any number between 0 and 256 on your average PC, but with eight qubits, a quantum computer can store all of those numbers. Basically, it’s enormously powerful. . . but what can you actually do with all that power? Here are a number of sectors which will be (and already are) implicated by quantum computing.
The most obvious use for quantum computing revolves around data. It obviously isn’t a ‘sector’ on its own, but data is a vital aspect of all industries. The rise of mass data and the Internet of Things has moved even more of society into the digital sphere, leading to a need for appropriate systems that can cope with all of that information. The processing power of qubits makes it possible to deal with data on a mass scale, as quantum computers are able to run billions of copies of a computation at the same time. This means that a lot of data can be processed very quickly.
Quantum computers are already changing the aerospace industry. NASA partnered with Google last year to buy a quantum computer, which they then used to help identify planets that could possibly support human life. Through telescope data analysis, quantum computers can detect movements and patterns in space that a regular computer might miss, helping scientists and researchers learn more about the universe. American aerospace company Lockheed Martin have also purchased a quantum computer, and have used it to ensure safety in their F35 fighter planes.
Despite all the hype around driverless cars, the race to develop completely autonomous vehicles is only just beginning. Even Uber’s new fleet of driverless taxis, based in Pittsburgh, require the presence of two human operators, who take control of the car if it comes up against challenging scenarios. Quantum computing could change this by giving developers the processing power they need to put out truly autonomous vehicles at an alarming rate. Quantum computers can also run complicated virtual experiments, so any advancements could be trialled immediately after they were made. There’s also the potential to drastically cut travel times via detailed analysis of traffic patterns.
Quantum computing has clear implications for the healthcare industry, first of all due to the ability to store masses of patient data. As the supercomputers can simulate virtual experiments, they could be used to work out how diseases develop in a digital environment that wouldn’t put human lives at risk. Working out how pathogens behave would lead to a better understanding of how to treat the illnesses that they cause. In the same vein, quantum computers could be used to analyse symptoms and quickly detect disease. They could also work to develop more effective DNA sequencing, potentially leading to more effective drugs and treatments.
Government organisations store and analyse vast amounts of data about almost every aspect of society. Quantum computing would make this storage much quicker and the analysis more accurate. Using in depth marketing information, government powers could tailor their election campaigns to directly answer the needs and wants of the population, not only winning the election but actually addressing real issues in their manifestos. By using super-personalised advertising, GDP could also be improved.
The sheer capacity of quantum computers has the potential to impact many different sectors. Quantum computing will not only revolutionise the way that information is dealt with, but also the speed in which it happens. If you already thought technology was moving quickly, quantum computers have accelerated this exponentially, especially as they move out of laboratories and into the public sphere.
How will virtually limitless computing power affect your business? Let us know how you think quantum computing could affect you.