What Business Journalists Should Know About Quantum Computing

by May 16, 2018

Quantum computing could potentially impact a number of industries, from medicine to finance. Here’s what you should know about this technology. (Photo: Pixabay.com user RemazteredStudio)

Google is at it again with another innovation, and this time it’s on the hardware end of quantum computing, which could disrupt just about everything. Now could be the time to start figuring out how you’ll start to cover this breakthrough technology.

The Silicon Valley giant believes it has developed a quantum computing chip that can achieve quantum supremacy, meaning that our computers based around ones and zeros are just about obsolete.

Quantum computers use qubits instead of bits (the transistors on a computer chip that make everything happen through a state of ones and zeros). Qubits exist in this state of both zero and one at the same time, which means it can store much more information and do many more tricks than computers today.

This type of subatomic computing gets a lot more complicated too, but the gist is that quantum computers can parse through data a lot faster than normal computers.

Google isn’t the only company diving into this wacky world. Firms like Intel, IBM and Microsoft are researching in quantum computing, but now Google is the most advanced after it developed a 72-qubit processor. IBM has the next fastest, having created a 50-qubit processor.

Quantum computing can be used for many different things and has been researched for so long that one expert has said  Quantum Computing is the solution looking for a problem.

Now that we’re closer than ever, people are looking into how Quantum Computing can be used for artificial intelligence, medicine research, financial services and supply chain & logistics.

Just how will these industries be impacted? In the medicinal world, cancer research could be revolutionized. The co-founder of D-Wave, the company that created the first commercially available quantum computer, says that quantum computing with machine learning can design drugs that could start treating patients in the next ten years.

Experts have been saying that we are at the limits of computing with classical computers that use silicon chips, and so quantum computing is the next way to speed things up. And with that, quantum computing gives companies new ways to parse through their large treasure troves of data for a variety of uses. Just think of what a company like Facebook could with its data by way of the quantum computer.

With great uses comes great risks, naturally.

This level of computing poses cybersecurity risks. Encryption can be based around the mathematical factoring of large numbers, and a quantum algorithm by Peter Shor that can calculate the prime numbers of large factors much more easier than our basic computers poses a risk for encryption practices.

This algorithm’s success depends on a quantum computer that’s powerful enough, but if we’re close to achieving quantum supremacy than this obstacle could be hurdled. The advent of quantum computing will not only cause security trouble for governments, but this will be another world for companies that will have to start developing new cybersecurity protocols.

Cybersecurity is already a huge cost for companies, so who knows what the world of quantum computing could mean for businesses and the world at large.

With society on the verge of this breakthrough, it could be time to start evaluating how universities are researching quantum computing, how local companies plan to use it and what this means for everyone and everything.