Quantum computing could be the next generation of computers and technology. While it’s not mainstream yet, computer scientists are making some incredible advancements. How do quantum computers work, though? What are some interesting quantum computing applications everyone should know about?
How Do Quantum Computers Work?
You need to start with the basics: How do computers work?
Computers process data, the smallest unit of which is called a bit. The value of a bit can be 1 or 0 – there are no alternatives. Yet, with these two values, computers use series of bits – organized in groups of eight called bytes – in huge numbers to complete calculations and provide analysis.
Quantum computers use quantum bits, or qubits. These aren’t limited by the binary values 1 and 0. Instead, they allow the computer to use superposition to carry out far, far more (and far more complex) calculations than conventional computers.
A qubit can be a 1 or 0 simultaneously or any proportion of those two values. It’s a fundamentally different way to express information digitally and a sea change in how computers work.
It’s a confusing concept, but the end result is a computer that’s orders of magnitude faster and more powerful than anything we’ve had before. Quantum computers can solve immensely complicated problems and run extremely detailed simulations.
What are some of the most interesting quantum computing applications? Let’s take a look.
You might know a little about AI and maybe even how it works. Artificial intelligence is possible on conventional computers and already a part of everyday life, but quantum computing will make the analyses and predictions provided by AI even faster and more accurate.
An AI gets “smarter” as it’s fed more “training data,” and quantum computers are the best way to analyze data sets as they grow larger and more complex. The human race will likely create 463 exabytes of data or more each day by 2025. We need extremely powerful computers to process it all.
Vaccine and Biopharmaceutical Research
Researchers in the biomedical and pharmaceutical fields are widely enthusiastic about the medicinal applications of quantum computing. Developing vaccines, medicines, implants, prostheses, and bespoke medical treatments will be much faster and easier in the near future. This is going to be one of the most far-reaching quantum computing applications.
The ability of a qubit to express multiple values simultaneously lets computers engage in generative design, or the process of examining many chemical compounds simultaneously and isolating the ones that yield results within desired tolerances. Quantum computing could become the primary method of vaccine research in the coming years by giving the medical community much-needed speed during developing events.
Cryptography and Cybersecurity
There’s an arms race going on right now between “black hat” and “white hat” hackers. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to infiltrate personal, corporate, and government networks. Personally identifying information (PII) is valuable on the Dark Web and so is intellectual property (IP).
Artificial intelligence is already a worthy ally in the struggle to secure these networks, and quantum computing will take it further. Quantum-powered AI will become even better at analyzing traffic and flagging or isolating anomalous and potentially fraudulent events.
Expect cryptography to get a boost as well. Current encryption methods aren’t perfect, but quantum computers will help us develop new and more secure encryption techniques. There are many vulnerability management tools and techniques available, and quantum computing could be a valuable addition.
High Finance Modeling
The world of high finance is all about weighing the risks and rewards of a particular investment at a particular time. Human beings are fairly successful at this on their own, but computers changed the game. One of the most common ways to deploy computers on Wall Street is by using Monte Carlo simulations. This is a way for a modeling program to analyze the probability of several outcomes at once even with the presence of random variables.
You can probably already see how quantum computers and qubits would be of some help here. The complexity of investment decisions in a global economy – and the detail of the models and simulations required to compare one action against others – is a job almost tailor-made for quantum computers. Algorithmic trading and modeling will eventually help investors, decision-makers in business, and even individual traders become smarter with their money.
Manufacturing and Construction
Generative design was mentioned briefly in the context of vaccine development. This is worth mentioning in two altogether different environments: Construction and general manufacturing. Both of these industries are under intense pressure right now to manage their resources and processes more conscientiously.
Generative design in manufacturing involves engineers and designers deciding on a set of parameters, such as “toothbrush that uses 25% less plastic than current models and is not less than 7” long.” The computer algorithm then generates a number of designs meeting those criteria. The result is a faster design and prototyping stage, followed by product designs that – depending on the input variables – use less material and cost less to manufacture.
Constructing homes and buildings will eventually use the same approach, and for the same reasons: Computers can explore all of the possible designs that meet expectations and regulations, including some humans might miss, and identify the best compromises in situations involving tight quarters or limited resources.
Quantum Computing Applications Will Change the World
These quantum computing applications and innovations all stand to benefit each of us to some degree. Whether it’s designing effective vaccines amid pandemic conditions or helping us build more energy-efficient homes, quantum computing has almost limitless potential. What will we do with it?
Follow Us On
Get the latest tech stories and news in seconds!
Sign up for our newsletter below to receive updates about technology trends