Posted June 09, 2017 | Feature Friday, Technology Industry | No Comments »

Feature Friday – On the Horizon: Quantum Computing

This week, we’ve got a really interesting article from the brilliant people over at This Is Milk; the business transformation specialists based in Glasgow. Founded in 2013, This Is Milk set out to do things better. Their expertise lies within the realms of digital strategy and delivery which they use in order to help businesses “predict, understand and implement the changes required to successfully compete online in an ever-changing digital environment.”

This fifth instalment of their excellent “On the Horizon” blog series – in which they take a look at future business and society trends -explores Quantum Computing and the impact this could have. So let’s find out what they have to say…


On the Horizon: Quantum Computing

TIM - quantumcomp

This article was written by Denis Yordanov

Throughout the ‘On the Horizon’ series so far, we have looked at various technologies and innovations that can have a profound impact on business and society. There is one thread that runs through the four topics mentioned so far (self-driving cars, blockchain, industry 4.0, and AI) that serves as the foundation for those innovation, without which they would have been impossible, and that is computing. Computers have arguably shaped and reshaped our way of life in the last 20 years more than anything else has in that period of time. They are at the core of so many aspects of our lives that listing them will be pointless. Given the direction of development it stands to reason that the role computers play in our lives will continue to grow in the future. It’s all possible because of computing.

Computing can essentially be broken down into mathematical problems. Every action that a person executes at a computer is interpreted and resolved as maths problems by the computer. Traditional computers understand and store information through transistors, which can be either on or off. In programs this is represented by ‘bits’, which can be either 1 or 0. Simply put, ‘the language’ of our current computers is comprised of series of bits that are either 1s and 0s.  However, if those transistors are reduced to extremely small sizes they begin to exhibit quantum physics effects, such as ‘superposition’. ‘Superposition’ means that those bits can be both 1 and 0 at the same time, and in such state are called qubits. How is it possible for a qubit to be a 1 and a 0 at the same time? No one really knows definitively. But the implications of this ‘superposition’ state for computational power are astounding. If one qubit can store both 1 and 0 at the same time, then two qubits can store four values, three qubits can have six values, and so on, resulting in computing power ramping up exponentially.

The idea of quantum computing and the value that it holds have been around for a while. But more recently some organisations have been successful in reaching the elusive quantum computing state and have begun to harness its power. For example, IBM announced that it now offers free public access to its cloud-based 5 qubit quantum computer IBM Q, and also has plans to offer ~50 qubits systems commercially. Another example is D-Wave’s quantum computer that Google and NASA have been testing since 2013.

 

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