Quantum Computing and its Impact on Hardware

With quantum computers inching closer and closer to reality, we can anxiously anticipate new and exciting changes coming to the way computers process information. A complex concept for many to comprehend, it is sure to disrupt many industries with its power.Quantum computers handle and process information in a much different way then that of classic computers. While a classic computer works with bits as information placeholders, a quantum computer works with quantum bits (qubits). While bits carry information in either a 0 or 1 state, qubits can be 0s and 1s at the same time thanks to quantum superposition. (Superposition defines the concept that microscopic objects can be in two places at the same time.) But for further details on quantum computing see Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s explanation as seen in this viral video. Ultimately (and a the risk of over simplifying the concept) with quantum computing information will be sent across greater distances far more quickly than with classic computers.

This breakthrough in technology has been spearheaded by Google, Intel, Microsoft and several Universities all contributing significant efforts into quantum computing. While we are likely still several decades away before we see quantum computing in a scalable environment (they are currently only worked with in specialized environments), it is no longer simply science fiction.

A Look at the Potential Impact

Quantum computing is sure to bring technological disruption to many industries. It has the potential to transform digital assistants to the point that they are indistinguishable from human intelligence. But it will be the financial, pharmaceutical, and security industries that will see the most change in the shortest amount of time.

  • Financial. More powerful computing power will allow financial experts to crunch the numbers and formulate trading strategies, optimize portfolios and conduct risk analysis at significantly faster speeds. As a data rich environment, banks are sure to welcome the computing power as the faster they are able to compute and make a decision, the more profitable they are likely to be.
  • Pharmaceutical. Researchers hope they will eventually be able to use quantum simulations to design entirely new molecules for use in medicine. The speed at which researchers can accurately predict the interaction of drugs and their affects on humans could mean life saving discoveries are tested more thoroughly and  head to trial considerably faster.
  • Security. Quantum computing can be used in fraud detection and in technology used to prevent money laundering.

Things to Consider

With these unprecedented opportunities, comes extraordinary risks.  Since quantum computing changes the way our data is encrypted, it could quickly be able to crack many of the online systems and break the algorithms currently used to encrypted data. Researchers are already trying to develop technology that is resistant to quantum hacking as the risk is serious enough to have national defense systems concerned.

Its unlikely we as end users will own a quantum computer but that the traditional computer will utilize and benefit from quantum computing’s power. D-Wave is extending its technology to the public cloud with goals of being available on multiple platforms.