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Quantum computing – our world once it is mainstream

Goldman Sachs has announced that they can introduce quantum algorithms to price financial instruments as soon as five years. Honeywell Quantum Solutions anticipates that quantum computing will form a $1 trillion industry in the decades ahead.

In recent years, quantum computing has gone from being a theoretical concept to reality. And as quantum computers become more powerful and sophisticated, they are poised to revolutionize how we live, work, and play.

But…

What exactly is quantum computing, and what will our world look like once it is mainstream?

What is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing is a type of computing where information is processed using quantum bits instead of classical bits.

Traditional computers process information using bits that are either 1 or 0. Quantum computers, on the other hand, use quantum bits or qubits. Qubits can be both 1 and 0 simultaneously, which enables quantum computers to process massive amounts of data very quickly.

This makes quantum computers much faster and more powerful than traditional computers. They can solve problems that are too difficult for classical computers to handle.

Quantum computers can process more information in a fraction of a second than traditional computers can in an entire lifetime.

 

How Will Quantum Computing Impact Our World?

According to Elizabeth Ruetsch, general manager for Quantum Engineering Solutions at Keysight Technologies:

Quantum promises to push beyond the boundaries of classical physics by harnessing the quantum mechanical properties of matter. Depending on the context, this can offer entirely new ways of processing information that have the potential to be faster and more resource-efficient, which would enable us to, for example, calculate things we have never been able to calculate before, like the formation of proteins or predict the complex behavior of financial systems. [1]

Quantum computing is a relatively new technology that has the potential to change the world as we know it.

Its potential implications are far-reaching and include everything from creating more powerful computers to changing the way we do business.

One of the most exciting potential implications of quantum computing is its ability to solve complex problems much faster than traditional computers. This could hugely impact many industries, including healthcare, finance, and manufacturing.

Chemical and biological engineering involve the discovery and manipulation of molecules. Doing so involves the motion and interaction of subatomic particles. In other words, it involves quantum mechanics…

As molecules get more complex, the number of possible configurations grows exponentially.

It becomes a combinatorics calculation suitable for a quantum computer.

For example, programmable quantum computers have already demonstrated successful simulations of simple chemical reactions, soon paving the way for increasingly complex chemistry simulations.

With the emerging feasibility of quantum simulations, which helps predict the properties of new molecules, engineers can consider molecule configurations that would otherwise be challenging to model. This ability means that quantum computers will play an important role in accelerating current efforts in materials discovery and drug development. [2]

Start-ups are keen on discovering ways and tools to look for new molecules using computers rather than test tubes.

QuPharm is a consortium of 17 pharma companies, including AbbVie, Bayer, GSK, Takeda, and Pfizer, pooling expertise to accelerate quantum hardware and software progress.

In 2019, biotech firm Biogen and Canadian quantum-computing specialist 1QBit collaborated to develop a quantum-enabled molecular comparison tool, an important part of virtual-screening experiments deployed during the early stages of drug discovery. [3]

Pharmaceutical and chemical firms will not be the only ones benefitting from quantum computing. It shows the potential to revolutionize the energy sector.

A type of nuclear fusion known as inertial confinement fusion uses powerful lasers to compress tiny fuel pellets, generating extremely high temperatures under the right conditions.

In theory, the amount of energy released from this process could be greater than that used by the lasers, making it a viable energy source. Achieving this in practice, however, depends on configuring the vast number of possible parameters of the process with incredible precision—something classical computers have done with only limited success.

Google engineering director Hartmut Neven believes quantum computing can aid in the design of better reactors, opening up the potential for an abundant form of clean energy. [4]

With continued development, quantum machine learning could become an essential tool for accelerating AI.

A growing research field in quantum machine learning is identifying ways quantum algorithms can enable faster AI.

While the current limitations on the technology and software make quantum artificial general intelligence a fairly remote possibility, it certainly makes thinking machines more than a subject for science fiction.

Quantum computers will not be used in isolation but will be part of a hybrid solution in which tasks will be assigned to the most suitable machine (quantum or classical).

A quantum-computing cloud infrastructure will enable the sharing of resources and create economies of scale that lower costs and increase access, which in turn will drive demand and accelerate progress.[5]

Quantum computing also has the potential to revolutionize the investment management process by providing faster and better-quality results…

Using quantum optimization algorithms, investment managers can create more accurate retirement strategies for their clients while also considering risk and return.

This could be a huge help for those looking to plan for their golden years and the economy.

In May 2021, Zapata announced the results of research it conducted with the Spanish bank BBVA…

To investigate the practical application of a quantum system in creating credit valuation adjustments (CVAs)—a regulatory requirement to minimize systemic financial risk. The project focused on a Monte Carlo simulation, the standard technique for CVA risk analysis.

The simulations’ calculations are complex and time-consuming for classical computers because they must account for various possible credit-default scenarios.

Zapata and BBVA’s research identified the potential for speedups over classical machines as the error-correction rates in future generations of quantum computers improve.

Large banks are already investing in the space: Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, as well as BBVA, have teams dedicated to researching the possibilities of quantum computing in banking and finance. [6]

The financial market thrives on high computational speed, and quantum computing can do that…

It can give hedge funds a millisecond advantage in obtaining price information for calculations. This can help them stay ahead of the competition and make wiser trading decisions.

Quantum computers can take advantage of a special feature of quantum mechanics called superpositioning. It paves the way to explore many different solutions simultaneously so that the computer can quickly find the correct answer.

In some cases, quantum computers can be up to 100 million times faster than classical computers.

Grover’s algorithm is a powerful quantum search theory developed in 1996 that could dramatically improve how computers find information in a large unstructured database, solving what’s known as the “needle in a haystack” challenge.

Consider genomic technologies, which have provided transformative insights into microbiology—for example, identifying genetic cardiac disorders and offering great potential for real-time detection and surveillance of epidemics.

These technologies need lots of computer power. Every time researchers map a DNA sequence to a reference genome, they must perform a massive search on classical computers. Grover’s algorithm could greatly accelerate the speed of these searches, but they can be run only on a functional quantum computer. [7]

The potential applications of quantum computing are virtually limitless. Quantum computers will be able to solve complex problems that are currently unsolvable, such as developing new medicines and materials, managing large-scale financial systems, mitigating climate change, and more.

In addition, quantum computing will enable businesses to make better decisions faster by giving them access to previously unimaginable amounts of data.

 

How will Quantum Computing Affect Cybersecurity?

The short answer is that we do not know yet…

Quantum computers are so new that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done to understand their capabilities fully.

A few potential scenarios could play out once quantum computers become more widely available.

One possibility is that quantum computers could make current encryption methods obsolete. Cybersecurity researchers and analysts remain concerned that quantum computers can break modern cryptography, rocking current security protocols that protect government and financial systems.

Even though quantum computing is not expected to go mainstream before 2030 or later, now is the time for businesses to begin preparing for its arrival.

 

Why?

It is anticipated that, eventually, quantum computers will be capable of factoring prime numbers used with asymmetric encryption algorithms, which form the basis of current data security systems, meaning it is time for businesses to reassess their cryptography systems. [8]

As of today, this threat is hypothetical, as existing quantum computers are not capable of breaking any commonly used encryption methods. However, with the technology advancing so quickly, the threat is real, and much work needs to be done to develop quantum-proof cryptographic methods.

In April 2021, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the U.S. government body tasked with developing cybersecurity standards, warned…

 “We cannot predict when a quantum computer capable of executing Shor’s algorithm will be available to adversaries, but…when that day comes, all secret and private keys that are protected using the current public-key algorithms—and all available information protected under those keys—will be subject to exposure.” [9]

There are always two sides to a coin. The other narrative with regards to cybersecurity and quantum computers is very different…

Another possibility is that quantum computers could be used to improve cybersecurity.

Those who propagate this narrative believe that…

Due to quantum machines’ rooting in probability and uncertainty, quantum information essentially becomes impossible to be copied or replicated. Nowadays, with security relying largely on encryption keys for data transmission, it’s in the hands of hackers to replicate the keys and gain unlawful access to information.

In the world of quantum computing and physics, data processing is not as vulnerable: In fact, an attempt to access data unlawfully will result in the dissolution of the original data composite, making quantum-backed security unhackable. As fictional as it may sound, data transmission in the quantum world is much like teleportation. With the quantum particles entangled, it’s impossible to alter one without accordingly changing the other. Accessing data equals breaking quantum physics rules. [10]

 

How Businesses and Individuals can Start Preparing for the Rise of Quantum Computing

As quantum computing technology advances, businesses and individuals must take the necessary steps to prepare for its arrival. Here are a few ways to get started:

  1. Educate yourself on quantum computing and its potential implications for your business.
  2. Invest in quantum-safe cryptography and security measures to protect your data and systems from potential attacks.
  3. Stay ahead of the curve by exploring possible applications of quantum computing in your industry and sector.
  4. Plan for future growth and changes that may be brought about by quantum computing technology.
  5. Collaborate with others in your industry or field to discuss the impact of quantum computing and develop best practices for dealing with it.

 

Conclusion

There is no doubt that quantum computing will have a significant impact on our world once it becomes mainstream. Businesses across all industries will benefit from the power of quantum computers.

We are already starting to see the early signs of this with businesses using quantum computers to solve complex problems. It is only a matter of time before this technology becomes mainstream and changes our world as we know it.

So, what does the future hold? Only time will tell. But one thing is for sure—the future of quantum computing is very bright indeed.

 

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References:

[1]. PRITAM BORDOLOI, AnalyticsIndiaMag, 17th May 2022, Is quantum computing primed for the mainstream?

[2]. Francesco Bova, Avi Goldfarb, and Roger Melko, Harvard Business Review, 16th July 2021, Quantum Computing Is Coming. What Can It Do?

[3,4,5,6,7]. Jonathan Ruane, Andrew McAfee, and William D. Oliver, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2022, Quantum Computing for Business Leaders

[8]. Dawn M. Turner, CyptoMathic, 21st January 2022, When Will Quantum Computing Arrive and How Will It Impact Cybersecurity?

[9]. Jonathan Ruane, Andrew McAfee, and William D. Oliver, Harvard Business Review, January-February 2022, Quantum Computing for Business Leaders

[10]. Gary Fowler, Forbes Magazine, 28th April 2021, When Will Quantum Computers Impact Our Day-To-Day?

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