You’ve probably heard about it, but, like me, you likely have no idea what it all means. That’s fine because as a mere mortal you’re not supposed to understand quantum world. All you need to know is that quantum computing is very real and boasts immense amounts of processing power. More importantly, it is already here.
Let’s break it down. The current state of computing has barely scratched the surface of its potential. We haven’t even walked through the doorway into the true Digital Age. Our current fascination with computers more closely resembles driving down the stretch of highway towards a big city. You might witness a lot of interesting and special things on the way, but it doesn’t compare to the excitement and wonder awaiting you inside the city.
Here is Professor Lawrence Krauss explaining it:
Let me try to make that easier to digest. Today’s computers rely on electrons zipping about on circuit boards to deliver information in “bits”, or 1s and 0s. In stark contrast, quantum computing relies on the natural properties of the sub atomic particles that make up everything in the known Universe to accomplish feats of computing far greater in magnitude than any current bit-based machine ever could. In short, this is computing on a cosmic scale.
Here is how pioneering quantum computing company D-Wave explains it:
“The laws of quantum physics, which govern the microscopic world, allow bits of matter to be in two states simultaneously.
All modern-day computing relies on the ultra-fast manipulation of billions of bits of information.
Quantum computing combines these two ideas, allowing us to put bits of information into their 0 and 1 states at the same time. This process allows quantum computers to consider and manipulate all combinations of bits simultaneously, making quantum computation powerful and fast.”
According to Business Insider:
“A 30-qubit quantum computer is approximately as powerful as a 10 teraflop computer, solving 10 trillion problems every second. Most average home computers push about seven gigaflops, calculating seven billion problems per second. There’s no comparison.”
You’re not (Thanks Peter!) going to find a nifty quantum computer at your local Best Buy anytime soon. The technology is in its infancy, however it is gaining exposure and turning heads. Google, Lockheed Martin and NASA are all proud owners of one.
Just think of the possibilities this spells out for artificial intelligence, the Internet, communications and entertainment. We can all accept that the Internet changed the world. It is likely that quantum computing will do the same and propel us by leaps and bounds into the future. What could be the negative effects?
I guess it’s time to get rid of my abacus…or at the very least get a quantum one.