One of the most promising emerging technologies in the 21st century is quantum computing, which harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.
Many scientists predict that quantum computing will completely revolutionize our approach to problem-solving, allowing us to cure disease, create an abundance of energy, and travel through time and space.
This article explains how quantum computing works and what it can accomplish in the future.
What Is Quantum
A classical computer bit has a value of either 0 or 1. Quantum bits, or
qubits, can be in superpositions of states so that they can encode more
information (e.g., 00 + 01 + 10 + 11).
They can also be entangled, so measuring one qubit reveals information
about another qubit.
It allows quantum computers to perform specific tasks exponentially
faster than classical computers.
For example, Shor’s algorithm lets you factor large numbers much faster
than you could on a classical computer.
Many other algorithms have been proposed for quantum computing, but none have been implemented yet—although companies like IBM and Google are currently working on it.
Concept of Quantum Computing
Quantum computing relies on qubits, which are quantum mechanical bits. It enables quantum computers to operate with a much higher number of
states. For example, a classical computer only has two states: one and zero.
A qubit can be both one and zero at once, meaning that if you had an
eight-qubit computer system—which is already possible in a lab setting—it would
have 28 states available for computation at any given time.
That’s 2^8, or 256 different combinations. That’s a lot more than just 1
and 0! It may not seem like much when talking about 8 binary digits, but try to
imagine what you could do with a 20-qubit computer.
With 220 combinations (or over a million), it would be virtually
impossible for even today’s fastest supercomputers to crack specific encryption
What problems can be solved by quantum computers?
Quantum computing helps scientists run complex algorithms much faster
than traditional computers. In some cases, it’s estimated that quantum
computers can solve problems a million times faster.
It may seem like a niche application, but one day we may use quantum
computers to simulate complex systems, advance artificial intelligence and
perform other impossible tasks.
Many technologists believe quantum computing could be most helpful in
chemistry and drug development.
For example, researchers at IBM are working on ways to predict how
molecules will interact with each other before they enter clinical trials;
these simulations would allow them to identify potential drugs more quickly and
Is It Super Secure
Against Hacking and Spying?
Quantum computers are a radical departure from all previous models of
computing. In traditional computers, bits represent either a 1 or 0 (called
binary), but they can exist simultaneously in quantum.
Unlike standard computers, they can easily be programmed to test many
combinations simultaneously, leading to pretty advanced problem-solving
It also means that quantum computers are very secure and resistant to
hacking or spying. However, it’s important to note that we’re still years away from having
a large-scale quantum computer.
How Fast Will
Quantum Computers Become Mainstream?
While quantum computers have enormous potential, they’re still far from
being able to solve computational problems in a way that surpasses classical
Researchers at IBM predict it will be 10 years before we see quantum
computing devices that can perform tasks beyond what today’s supercomputers can
There are several obstacles standing in their way, including cost and
But with scientists making progress every day, quantum computing may
soon become a reality.
And when it does, businesses and consumers alike could reap benefits as
significant as those brought on by previous technological revolutions.
In theory, quantum computers should be able to solve some problems
billions of times faster than today’s fastest machines.
That’s exciting—but they could also pose a danger. Quantum computing is
so new that experts haven’t figured out whether there are real risks or not
yet, but we can look at other emerging technologies to get an idea.
For example, it took decades for scientists to understand how genetic
engineering might affect human health and society.
We still don’t know everything about gene editing—and it hasn’t been
widely adopted yet—but researchers have learned enough to conclude that there
are both benefits and risks involved in its use.
So what does all of that mean for quantum computing? It means we need
more research before using these powerful machines on anything beyond simple
tests and experiments.