Author: Roy Xu
Editor: Kira Tian
Artist: Nicole T
If you think the computers we use today are smart and efficient enough, just wait until you learn about the functions of quantum computers. Read on to discover quantum computers, how it is projected to change the world, and how you might contribute to its development.
Computers, for all we know, have increased humans’ maximum potential. They provide us with a way of more efficient communication. They have sent us to space, increased the quality of healthcare, and allowed us to do many other ‘impossibles’. In 1964, the world’s first supercomputer was born, known as the CDC 6600; it was used to analyze millions of photographs. Today, there are various types of supercomputers serving unique purposes like weather forecasting, molecular modeling, stock trading, engineering, and so on. Currently, the supercomputer system is the most powerful system; however, with the increase of branches in technology all trying to improve and innovate quantum computing systems, supercomputers will soon become an ancient artifact.
The computers we have today can only add and count in binary. This means that we have a simple transistor that can either block or allow information made up of bits (set to 0/1) to flow in; a combination of several bits is used to represent more complex information. So there are a lot of 1s and 0s going through the transistors every time we use a computer, and thus it is not efficient, especially compared to quantum computers. How so? Well, instead of bits, quantum computers use qubits that don't have to be 1 or 0; qubits can be in both states at once thanks to superposition. Just 20 qubits can store more than a million configurations at once. In other words, it's fast, very fast.
Let’s now talk about potentials: you can blow up 20 digits worth of TNT in Minecraft or run your video games at maximum graphics. In all seriousness, quantum computing can change the world. Quantum computers can improve healthcare; with their modeling, they can outcompete normal computers for vaccine research. They can offer a higher potential for cloud computing. While Google’s quantum computers are still in their research stage, it has planned to offer commercial cloud computing on its quantum computers in the future. While it is complex enough to protect outside hackers from breaching into its own security network, quantum computing will also serve as a huge advantage or threat, depending on who is in control of it. It has been said that with quantum computing, a country will be capable of figuring out its enemy’s nuclear launch code in minutes. Others in the financial sector worry that those who achieve quantum supremacy in the HFT sector will be able to manipulate the stock market. Investors of cryptocurrency also worry that a 1500 qubit quantum computer will be able to hack into their private keys.
Success comes with failures, and yet we are far away from the success of developing a well functional quantum computer. Google currently holds its place in the development and research of quantum computing, along with a team of Chinese researchers and IBM. These groups claim quantum supremacy: they have just released 60+ qubit quantum computers in late 2020. The computers, however, were filled with inaccuracies. For now, quantum computers are highly volatile and sensitive due to the nature of how qubits run. Qubits need to remain in a certain electromagnetic field, as well as steer away from oxygen molecules as the interaction between the two can cause the system to crash. Along with the high inaccuracy rates, quantum computers are only operable in a lab at temperatures near absolute zero.
We are eager to see the successful development of quantum computing in the near future; perhaps those who are reading this right now might take part in the journey. The hope that such technologies will breed new billionaires is another reason why so many are trying to create better quantum computing. Regardless, there is a prominent future for quantum computing.
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Cem DilmeganiCem founded AIMultiple in 2017. Throughout his career.
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