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In 2022, leaders in the U.S. military technology and cybersecurity community said that they considered 2023 to be the “reset year” for quantum computing. They estimated the time it will take to make systems quantum-safe will match the time that the first quantum computers that threaten their security will become available: both around four to six years. It is vital that industry leaders quickly start to understand the security issues around quantum computing and take action to resolve the issues that will arise when this powerful technology surfaces.
Quantum computing is a cutting-edge technology that presents a unique set of challenges and promises unprecedented computational power. Unlike traditional computing, which operates using binary logic (0s and 1s) and sequential calculations, quantum computing works with quantum bits, or qubits, that can represent an infinite number of possible outcomes. This allows quantum computers to perform an enormous number of calculations simultaneously, exploiting the probabilistic nature of quantum mechanics.
Quantum computing’s potential
The potential of quantum computing lies in this ability to process vast amounts of information in parallel, leading to exponential increases in computational power compared to classical computers. While a classical computer can calculate the outcome of a single-person race, a quantum computer could simultaneously analyze a race involving millions of participants with different routes and determine the most likely winner using probability-based algorithms. Quantum computers are particularly suited to solve optimization problems and simulations with multiple probabilistic outcomes, revolutionizing areas such as logistics, healthcare, finance, cybersecurity, weather tracking, agriculture and more. Their impact could extend to geopolitics, reshaping power dynamics on a global scale.
Quantum computing requires a completely different approach to programming due to its novel logical paradigm. Embracing uncertainty and iterative heuristic approaches are essential for harnessing the potential of this technology effectively. However, one significant challenge in quantum computing is the need to link multiple qubits without increasing the probability of errors. This remains a critical obstacle to the commercial growth of the technology.
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One practical constraint of this is the need to isolate qubits from the real-world environment to avoid decoherence, which degrades the quantum state. Currently, cooling to extremely low temperatures is used for isolation. Ongoing research is exploring various methodologies, including photonics and different materials, to make quantum processors more scalable and commercially viable.
A thousand qubits strong
Over the past decade, quantum computing has made remarkable progress. IBM, for instance, launched a 50-qubit chip in 2017, and in 2019 it claimed to have outperformed the fastest traditional supercomputer on certain computations. Further advancements are expected, with the race to develop 1,000-qubit quantum computers already underway.
While short-term projections about quantum computing might be overhyped, the long-term outcomes are likely to be game-changing. Increasing global interest from various sectors ensures significant capital commitment and paves the way for extraordinary practical innovations in the coming years.
For quantum computers to reach their full potential, the development of error-correcting qubits is crucial. Current quantum processors often require a significant number of standard qubits to achieve a single error-correcting qubit. However, there is optimism that this issue will be addressed within the next few years.
Quantum computing holds the promise of transforming our world by providing unprecedented computational power and revolutionizing various industries and fields. Although challenges remain, the continuous progress in quantum technology suggests that breakthroughs could occur at any time. As we harness the potential of quantum computing, it is likely to be the most impactful of all frontier technologies, driving significant advancements in our society.
Daniel Doll-Steinberg is cofounder of EdenBase.
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