Supercomputers: Super No More. Hello Quantum Computing

Quantum Computing

Again, IBM is paving the way with new technological advancement the world has never seen. IBM is researching and developing Quantum Computing. Instead of a bit (1 or 0), quantum computers use qubits which uses the superposition of 0 and 1. Because of the amount of information a qubit can hold, the way algorithms run is changing exponentially.

Current classic computers are limited in their optimization abilities which a quantum computer specializes in. Take seating 20 guests at a wedding, for example, there are 1.21 * 1021 possible permutation (20!). This could take a classic computer hundreds of years to find the best solution whereas a quantum computer can run each permutation simultaneously and compute a result in minutes, if not seconds. This computing power will theoretically lead to cures for diseases, intergalactic space travel, faster and more accurate analyses in weather, finance, logistics, etc.

Quantum computing is still in its early stages and is difficult to build and maintain which gives companies and governments some time to prepare for the transition to quantum computing power.

How will Quantum Computing Affect me?

Quantum computing will make current RSA encryption obsolete. People’s financial and health records around the world will become unsecure, corporate research projects and classified government documents will sit out on the web ready to be stolen and declassified. Like with Y2K, companies, governments, and individuals will need to invest time and money into preparing our current systems to combat quantum computer power. And, unlike Y2K, there is no specified date as to when the transition must happen. It could be this year, it could be a decade from now, still, the change that quantum computing will bring is important understand.

Knowing about this inevitable technological change is crucial for organizations so they can prepare. Security is a growing issue in today’s digital age and with the introduction of quantum computers, most of that security will be completely obsolete. Implementing technology is not a matter of what but when and missing the mark on reacting to the introduction of quantum computing will leave organizations and even entire countries at severe risk of data breaches. Nonetheless, the capabilities that this technology will provide are completely unfathomable. Genes, DNA, and disease can be understood on a whole new level and there is potential to answer some of the world’s greatest questions.

Key Points

  • A qubit can use 0s and 1s instead of just 0 or 1 (allows for entanglement)
    • It’s equivalent to opening a combination lock by trying every possible number and sequence simultaneously
  • At 100 qubits, a single quantum computer processor would, theoretically, be more powerful than all the supercomputers on the planet combined (expected as early as this year)
  • Quantum computers are difficult to build and maintain. The qubit must be stored in near absolute zero temperatures (0.015 K), which is colder than space itself!
  • Quantum computing algorithms will make all current encryption obsolete
  • IBM has a “quantum computer” you can play with online at IBM Q Experience

Further Reading: 

The Economist:



Science Daily:


The Washington Post:

The Next Web:



Featured image from NED

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