- Quantum computing has seen major breakthroughs in recent years.
- This technology can produce computers that calculate at incredibly high speeds compared to ordinary machines.
- Quantum computing technology will impact everything from cryptography to medicine to finance.
Quantum computing is an idea that has long existed in the realm of science fiction. But recent developments have made it seem more and more like a reality.
The emergence of readily available quantum computing has significant implications for the tech industry and the world as a whole. With potential impacts in things like cybersecurity, simulations, and more, investors are watching this industry closely (and getting invested).
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing relies on quantum mechanics, a fundamental theory of physics that describes how the world works at the level of the atom and subatomic particles, to solve problems that traditional computers find too complex.
Most quantum computers rely on the “quantum bit” or qubit. Unlike traditional bits in a computer, which are set to 0 or 1, qubits can be set to zero, one, or a superposition of 0 and 1. Although the mechanics behind this are very complex, qubits allow quantum computers to process information in a fraction the time that a traditional computer could.
To give an idea of the scale, 500 qubits can represent the same information as 2^500 normal bits. While a typical computer would need millions of years to find all the prime factors of a 2,048-bit number (a number with 617 digits), a quantum computer can do the job in minutes.
Modern quantum theory was developed in the 1920s. Computers appeared shortly after that, and both technologies played a role in World War II. Over time, physicists began to merge the two fields of quantum theory and computation to create the field of quantum computing.
In 1998, a two-bit quantum computer was developed, which serves as a proof of concept for the technology. Further developments have increased the number of bits and reduced the number of errors.
Scientists believe that problems that are currently too large to solve with traditional computers can be solved using quantum computers.
Given the significant improvements that quantum computers can bring to computing power, research into quantum computers has been ongoing for decades. However, important breakthroughs have been seen in recent years.
Last week, Australian engineers announced the discovery of a way to control electrons within quantum dots that run logic gates without the need for a large, bulky system. This could help build quantum computers that are reasonably large.
In addition, researchers at MIT have recently developed an architecture for quantum computers that will enable high-fidelity communication between quantum processors, enabling the interconnection of multiple processors.
This enables “modular implementations of larger machines built from smaller individual components,” according to Bharath Kanna, one of the lead authors of the research paper describing this breakthrough.
“The ability to communicate between smaller subsystems will enable a modular architecture for quantum processors, and this could be an easier way to scale to larger system sizes compared to the brute-force approach of using a single large and complicated chip.”
In addition, Maryland-based company IonQ recently announced a 65,000-square-foot facility it will use for manufacturing and production. The factory will be located in Bothell, WA and is the first dedicated quantum computer manufacturing facility in the United States.
How will it affect the tech industry?
Quantum computing could have huge impacts on the tech industry and the world.
One of the biggest impacts will be in the world of cyber security. The Department of Homeland Security believes a quantum computer could break current encryption methods as soon as 2030.
Without major developments in cryptography or a slowdown in the advancement of quantum computing technology, we could be less than a decade away from malicious actors being able to see everything from people’s personal information to government and military secrets.
Some groups are already engaging in “Store Now, Decrypt Later” attacks, which steal encrypted data and store it with the expectation that they will be able to crack the encryption at a later time.
Quantum computing could also have major impacts on the medical industry. For example, quantum machines can be used to model molecular processes. This could contribute to breakthroughs in disease research and accelerate the development of life-saving drugs.
These simulations may have similar effects in industries that rely on materials science, such as battery manufacturing. The financial sector could also benefit from the technology by using simulations to perform risk analyzes more accurately and optimize investment portfolios.
Given its world-changing capabilities, it’s no surprise that governments have invested heavily in the technology, with more than $30 billion going into research programs worldwide.
What it means for investors
Quantum computing has the potential to impact almost every industry worldwide. In addition to affecting the technology industry, it can create shock waves in the medical and financial industries while also leading to the development of new products or materials that become part of everyday life.
Given the relative youth of the technology, it can be challenging for investors to find ways to invest directly in quantum computers. Instead, they can look for investments in companies that have an interest in quantum computers and are ready to benefit from their development, such as pharmaceutical companies.
The rise of quantum computing could mean that the world will look very different in just a few years. Investors will be looking for ways to capitalize on this game-changing technology, and the opportunities will be plentiful.
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