Our lives have already been altered by quantum physics. About every electronic system we use today is an example of quantum physics in motion, thanks to the invention of the laser and the transistor, all of which are results of quantum theory. As we attempt to harness ever more of the quantum world's power, we could be on the verge of a second quantum revolution. Many industries, including healthcare, energy, finance, defence, and entertainment, may be affected by quantum computing and quantum communication. According to recent estimates, the quantum industry will be worth billions of dollars by 2030. Before this degree of large-scale effect can be achieved, however, major functional obstacles must be addressed.
Classical vs. quantum
Despite the fact that quantum theory has been around for over a century, the latest quantum revolution is centred on the discovery that ambiguity, a fundamental property of quantum particles, can be a valuable resource. At the level of individual quantum particles, such as electrons or photons (light particles), knowing every property of the particle at any given time is unlikely. Your car's GPS, for example, will tell you your position, speed, and direction all at once, with enough accuracy to get you to your destination. However, a quantum GPS does not simultaneously and accurately show all of an electron's properties, not because of a flaw in the design, but because quantum physics prohibits it. We must speak in terms of probability rather than certainty in the quantum world. And, in the sense of computation with binary digits (bits) of 0s and 1s, this implies that quantum bits (qubits) have a chance of being both a 1 and a 0 at the same time.
At first, such ambiguity is unsettling. 0s and 1s are synonymous with switches and electrical circuits turning on and off in our daily computers. From a computing standpoint, not understanding whether they are on or off makes no sense. In reality, this would result in calculation errors. However, the innovative concept behind quantum information processing is that quantum uncertainty — a fuzzy in-between "superposition" of 0 and 1 — is a function, not a bug. It gives you new tools to interact and process data more effectively.
Quantum computation and quantum communication in Real-time Action
Quantum knowledge cannot be exactly copied due to the probabilistic existence of quantum theory. This is a game-changer in terms of defence. Even though they had access to a quantum computer or other powerful tools, hackers attempting to copy quantum keys used for encrypting and transmitting messages would be defeated. This cryptography is essentially unhackable because it is focused on physical laws rather than the sophisticated mathematical algorithms used today. Although mathematical encryption techniques can be broken by powerful computers, breaking quantum encryption would necessitate breaking the laws of physics.
Quantum computers are radically different from current classical computers, just as quantum encryption is fundamentally different from current encryption methods based on mathematical complexity. They're as dissimilar as a car and a horse and carriage. In comparison to a horse and cart, a car is built on harnessing various laws of physics. It takes you to your destination quicker and allows you to visit new places that were previously inaccessible. When comparing a quantum computer to a classical computer, the same can be said. A quantum computer uses quantum mechanics' probabilistic laws to process data and perform computations in novel ways. It can speed up such computations and perform previously impossible tasks, such as quantum teleportation, in which information stored in quantum particles vanishes in one location and is precisely (but not instantly) recreated in a distant location. Although that might sound science fiction, this new method of data transmission may be a critical component of the future quantum internet.
The simulation and analysis of molecules for drug production and materials design may be a particularly important application of quantum computers. Since it operates under the same quantum mechanics rules as the molecules it is simulating, a quantum machine is uniquely equipped for such tasks. Simulating quantum chemistry using a quantum system may be much more effective than using today's fastest classical supercomputers.
Quantum computers are also well-suited to solving complex optimization problems and searching through large amounts of unsorted data quickly. This could be useful for a variety of purposes, including sorting climate data, health or financial data, supply chain logistics, staff management, and traffic flow.
Being ready for the quantum future
The quantum arms race has already begun. Across the globe, governments and private investors are pouring billions of dollars into quantum research and development. The use of satellites to transmit quantum keys for encryption has been demonstrated, laying the framework for a quantum security-based global communication network. Large-scale quantum computing hardware and software are being developed by IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other companies. Nobody has arrived yet. Although small-scale quantum computers are currently operational, coping with errors is a major roadblock to scaling up the technology.
Qubits are extremely fragile as compared to bits. Quantum knowledge can be destroyed by even the tiniest disturbance from the outside world. As a result, most modern computers must be carefully protected in enclosed environments with temperatures well below those of outer space. While a theoretical framework for quantum error correction has been developed, putting it into practise in a way that is both energy and resource efficient presents significant engineering challenges.
It's unknown when or if the full power of quantum computing would be available, given the current state of the field. Nonetheless, business leaders should think about designing plans for three key areas:
1.Quantum security planning:
Current data encryption protocols are open to future quantum computers as well as ever-more efficient classical computers. New encryption standards (whether classical or quantum) are unavoidable. Planning, capital, and quantum knowledge would be needed to transition to a quantum-secure architecture and supporting infrastructure for data protection. And if quantum computers are a decade away, it will be too late to adapt then. The time has come to begin the procedure.
2.Identifying use cases entails the following steps:
Nobody could have expected how traditional computers can affect every part of our lives in so many different ways. Quantum applications are similarly difficult to foresee. As a consequence, in order to fully realise quantum computing's potential, business leaders and experts from various industries, such as health, finance, and energy, must collaborate with quantum researchers and hardware/software engineers. This will make it easier to build industry-specific quantum solutions that are adapted to existing quantum technologies or future scalable quantum computing. Building and developing the quantum app store will require interdisciplinary knowledge and training.
3.Thinking about responsible design:
Who will create quantum technology and have access to it, and how will users interact with it? The effect of AI and blockchain has highlighted the importance of considering emerging technologies' social, legal, and environmental implications. The quantum industry is still in its infancy. This presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a responsible and long-term quantum computing roadmap by incorporating inclusive practices from the outset.
The quantum technology sector's exponential development over the last five years has been thrilling. However, the future remains uncertain. Fortunately, quantum theory explains that unpredictability isn't really a negative thing. Indeed, two qubits may be locked together in such a way that they remain undetermined individually but are completely in harmony collectively — either both qubits are 0 or both are 1. Entanglement, or the mixture of joint certainty and individual unpredictability, is a strong fuel that drives many quantum computing algorithms. It may also be instructive in terms of how to grow a quantum industry. By being responsible in your preparation but still accepting potential ambiguity, you will achieve your goals. Businesses will boost their chances of being quantum-ready in the future.
Now the conclusion,
The quantum arms race has already begun. Across the globe, governments and private investors are pouring billions of dollars into quantum research and development. The use of satellites to transmit quantum keys for encryption has been demonstrated, laying the framework for a quantum security-based global communication network. Large-scale quantum computing hardware and software are being developed by IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and other companies. Nobody has arrived yet. Nonetheless, business leaders should think about designing plans for three key areas: 1.) Quantum security planning; 2.) Quantum computing use cases identification 3.) considering the implications of responsible design. Businesses will boost their chances of being ready for the quantum future by preparing responsibly but still welcoming future ambiguity
To help their work, Newsmusk allows writers to use primary sources. White papers, government data, initial reporting, and interviews with industry experts are only a few examples. Where relevant, we also cite original research from other respected publishers.
This article is based on "Are You Ready for the Quantum Computing Revolution?"
by Shohini Ghose published on "Harvard Business Review"
Shohini Ghose is a quantum physicist and Wilfrid Laurier University's Professor of Physics and Computer Science. She is the executive Director of the Laurier Centre for Women in Science and the President of the Canadian Association of Physicists. She is also a TED Senior Fellow.
Chief Editor, Science and Technology Section, Newsmusk.