- Quantum computing has seen major breakthroughs in the past few years.
- This technology can produce computers that compute at incredibly high speeds compared to conventional machines.
- Quantum computing technology affects everything from cryptography to medicine to finance.
Quantum computing is a long-standing idea in science fiction. However, recent developments have made it seem more and more realistic.
The rise of accessible quantum computing has significant implications for the technology industry and the world at large. Investors are watching (and investing in) this industry closely because of potential impacts on things like cybersecurity, tokens, and more.
What is quantum computing?
Quantum computing is based on quantum mechanics, the fundamental theory of physics that describes how the world works at the level of atoms and subatomic particles, to solve problems that traditional computers find too complex.
Most quantum computers rely on the “quantum bit” or qubit. A qubit can be set to a zero, a one, or a high position of 0 and 1 instead of the traditional bits in a computer that are set to 0 or 1. Although the mechanics behind it are very complicated, qubits allow quantum computers to process information in fractions. At the time, a traditional computer could.
To give an idea of scale, 500 qubits can represent the same information as 2^500 standard bits. While a conventional computer would need millions of years to find 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. Soon after that, computers appeared, and both technologies played a role in World War II. Over time, physicists began to merge the two fields of quantum theory and computing to create the field of quantum computing.
In the year 1998 saw the development of a two-bit quantum computer, which served as a proof of concept for the technology. Further developments have increased the bit count and reduced the error rate.
Researchers believe that problems that cannot be solved by traditional computers can be solved using quantum computers.
Given the huge improvements that quantum computing can bring to computing power, research into quantum computers has been underway for decades. However, important discoveries have been made in recent years.
Last week, Australian engineers announced a way to control electrons in quantum dots that operate logic gates without the need for a large, bulky system. This could help in building quantum computers at scale.
Also, researchers at MIT have recently developed an architecture for quantum computers that allows for high-fidelity communication between quantum processors, enabling the interconnection of multiple processors.
This allows for “modular implementation of large machines built from small individual components,” said Bharat Khanna, co-lead author of the research paper describing the discovery.
The ability to communicate between small subsystems enables a modular architecture for quantum processors, and this can be an easy way to scale to larger system sizes compared to using a single large and complex chip.
Additionally, Maryland-based company IonQ announced that it will soon use a 65,000-square-foot facility for production and manufacturing. The factory is located in Bothell, WA and is the first quantum computer manufacturing facility in the United States.
How will it affect the tech industry?
Quantum computing could have a huge impact 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 that quantum computers will be able to break existing encryption methods as early as 2030.
If we don’t make a major breakthrough in cryptography or slow the progress of quantum computing technology, we could be less than a decade away from malicious actors looking at everything from people’s personal data to government and military secrets.
Some groups are already engaging in “Store Now, Decrypt later” attacks, where they steal encrypted data and hope to crack the encryption the next day.
Quantum computing could have a major impact on the medical industry. For example, quantum machines can be used to model molecular processes. This will help in the discovery of disease research and help to speed up life saving medicines.
These simulations could have a similar impact on materials science-based industries such as battery manufacturing. Even the financial sector can benefit from the technology, using simulations to accurately perform risk analysis and optimize investment portfolios.
Given its potential to change the world, it’s no wonder governments are investing 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 around the world. In addition to impacting the tech industry, it can create shock waves in the medical and financial industries and create new products or materials in everyday life.
Given the relative youth of the technology, finding ways for investors to directly invest in quantum computing will be challenging. Instead, they may seek investments in businesses, such as pharmaceutical companies, that are interested in quantum computers and ready to benefit from their development.
The rise of quantum computing could mean the world will look very different in a few years. Investors are looking for ways to profit from this game-changing technology, and the opportunities are plentiful.
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