Quantum computing involves developing powerful computer technology based on the principles of quantum theory. The theory describes the behavior of energy and matter on the atomic and subatomic levels and applying it to computer technology means computers will be able to encode information in smaller and much more versatile bits.
The classical computers we use today encode information using transistors, with data bits only able to be represented as either a 1 or 0, which is very restrictive compared to quantum computing. Quantum computers use qubits (quantum bits) or subatomic particles which can exist in more than one state. This allows them to be both 1 and 0 at the same time and thus creates huge potential for much more powerful big data analysis and simulations.
History of Quantum Computing
Using quantum theory to develop super powerful computers is not a new concept, but it takes so long and is so expensive that it has yet to be applied commercially. The idea was originally conceived back in 1980 as a quantum mechanical model of the Turing Machine, with further significant progress made in the 1990s. However, no great strides were made until more recent public and private investment into the field occurred in the last few years.
One of the biggest drivers of current quantum computing research and development is Google, who have a dedicated Artificial Intelligence division conducting experiments into quantum computing. In partnership with NASA, Google AI announced in 2019 that they had managed to perform a quantum computation that would be impossible for a classical computer. They have so far already spent billions of dollars on the project and hope to build a working quantum computer by 2029.
Other major players conducting quantum computing research and development include IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, among many others.
Quantum computing will greatly help with the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning, and its potential for big data analysis is off the charts. Other fields where it could be applied to great effect is in fintech and digital manufacturing, as well as with medical drug design and discovery.
One would imagine the world’s militaries and intelligence agencies also being interested in the development of quantum computing, plus it will also aid aerospace design and engineering as well as nuclear fusion technology.
The potential is practically limitless while we remain at the theoretical and experimental stage, but a commercially viable quantum computer may well arrive within the next decade or so. How quickly the technology will become mainstream remains to be seen, though it is looking likely to be prohibitively expensive at first, certainly for any businesses or organizations that aren’t generating billion-dollar revenues.
It is one for business owners to keep an eye on for the future though.
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