- Quantum computing has seen major breakthroughs over the past few years.
- This technology can produce computers that calculate at incredibly high speeds compared to typical machines.
- Quantum computing technology will impact everything from cryptography to medicine to finance.
Quantum computing is an idea that has long been in the realm of science fiction. However, recent developments have made it seem more and more like a reality.
The rise of easily accessible 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. Though the mechanics behind this is highly complex, qubits allow quantum computers to process information in a fraction of the time a traditional computer could.
To offer 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 computing to create the field of quantum computing.
1998 saw the development of a two-bit quantum computer, which serves as a proof of concept for the technology. Further developments have increased the bit count and reduced the rate of errors.
Researchers believe that problems currently too large to be solved by traditional computers can be solved using quantum computers.
Given the substantial improvements that quantum computing can provide to computing power, research into quantum computers has been going on 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 with building quantum computers that are reasonably sized.
Also, researchers at MIT recently developed an architecture for quantum computers that will allow for high-fidelity communication between quantum processors, allowing for the interconnection of multiple processors.
This allows for “modular implementations of larger-scale machines built from smaller individual components,” according to Bharath Kanna, a co-lead author of the research paper describing this breakthrough.
“The ability to communicate between smaller subsystems will enable a modular architecture for quantum processors, and this may be a simpler way of scaling to larger system sizes compared to the brute-force approach of using a single large and complicated chip.”
Furthermore, a Maryland-based company IonQ recently announced a 65,000-square-foot facility that 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 impact the tech industry?
Quantum computing could have massive impacts on the tech industry and the world.
One of the biggest impacts will be in the world of cybersecurity. The Department of Homeland Security believes that a quantum computer could be able to break current encryption methods as soon as 2030.
Without major developments in cryptography or a slowdown in quantum computing technology advances, we could be less than a decade away from malicious actors being able to view everything from people’s personal information to government and military secrets.
Some groups are already participating in “Store Now, Decrypt Later” attacks, which steal encrypted data and store it with the expectation that they’ll be able to crack the encryption at a later date.
Quantum computing could also have major effects on the medical industry. For example, quantum machines could be used to model molecular processes. This could assist with breakthroughs in disease research and speed up the development of life-saving drugs.
These simulations could have similar impacts in industries that rely on materials science, such as battery making. Even the financial sector could benefit from the technology, using simulations to perform risk analysis more accurately and optimize investment portfolios.
Given its world-changing capabilities, it’s no surprise that governments have made major investments in the technology, with more than $30 billion going into research programs across the globe.
What it means for investors
Quantum computing has the potential to impact almost every industry across the globe. Beyond impacting the tech industry, it could create shockwaves in the medical and financial industry while leading to the development of new products or materials that become a 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 computing. Instead, they may look for investments in businesses that have an interest in quantum computers and that are poised to benefit from their development, such as pharmaceutical companies.
The bottom line
The rise of quantum computing could mean that the world will look very different just a few years from now. Investors will be looking for ways to profit from this game-changing technology, and the opportunities will be plentiful.
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