As we navigate our way through the information age and into the next iteration of wherever it is that technology takes us, we often wonder what technological advancement will move us beyond the limitations of binary computing. For years the function of computing and data processing has been performed in binary which most people are familiar with, but what is the next leap? The Quantum leap?
In what can be described as a technological arms race of sorts, are a number of companies investing deeply into developing the first quantum computer. Drawing on the complex principles of quantum physics these companies are racing to create the world’s first quantum computer.
To understand the impact that quantum computing is going to have on the world around us we must first understand the differences between traditional binary computing methods and those of the quantum world. In our traditional PCs the memory is comprised of bits which can represent a 1 or 0 and are used for calculations. In classic computing a PC will go bit by bit calculating each set of binary digits to process its function. In quantum computing a term called a qubit replaces the bit where each qubit can be represented by both a 1, 0 or a quantum superposition of those two numbers so that as you expand the number of qubits the processing capability becomes exponentially greater.
While understanding the premise of quantum computing can be confusing, the real-life impact that quantum computing will have on your life is going to be immeasurable - whether for good or bad. The predominant line of thought is that the speed at which we can process data and run calculations through a quantum computer will accelerate the rate at which we are advancing other technologies. For instance, the healthcare field could be completely transformed, diagnostics that today require complex labs may be able to be performed on a device the size of your phone. Another application for quantum computing will be the progression of research for advancing the current state of artificial intelligence. Perhaps my favorite is the advancements foreseen in the world of weather forecasting. Depending on who you ask, our accuracy in weather prediction is only good to two weeks out, in reality you know even a one-week prediction in northern Nevada is suspect. Imagine being able to predict 1 or 2 months out, now a farmer would know when to plant and a vacationer would know what to pack, or whether they would even what to go.
With great power comes great responsibility. This statement has never held more truth than when looking at what may come with the practical application of quantum computing. There will be many pieces of our lives that will have to adapt to a new computing paradigm. Data and personal security will need significant advancements to protect us from the intrusion of a functioning quantum computer, and whole industries will be disrupted or cease to exist. With the looming notion that quantum computing is on the horizon we need to begin researching and developing the appropriate safeguards and strategies to lead and protect future generations from the potential of exponential change.