What does the arrival of the quantum computing mean for consumers? According to some researchers, it could lead to better medications, supercharged artificial intelligence, and more efficient solar cells.
Quantum computers use the states of subatomic particles (which are protons, neutrons, and electrons within an atom) to store information. Quantum mechanics, which is the branch of mechanics that studies the behavior of subatomic particles and their interactions, is the key to this new technology’s ability to perform complex calculations and atomic simulations.
Many traditional computers can provide information about atomic models and can execute some exponential calculations, but they are limited in both storage capacity and the number of variables that can be accounted for. Quantum computers overcome the issues of limited storage and limited variable integration through the use of qubits, quantum parallelism, and superpostition. Andris Ambainis, writing for the Institute for Advanced Study, described it this way:
“A conventional computer processes information by encoding it into 0s and 1s. If we have a sequence of thirty 0s and 1s, it has about one billion of possible values. However, a classical computer can only be in one of these one billion states at the same time. A quantum computer can be in a quantum combination of all of those states, called superposition. This allows it to perform one billion or more copies of a computation at the same time.
In a way, this is similar to a parallel computer with one billion processors performing different computations at the same time—with one crucial difference. For a parallel computer, we need to have one billion different processors. In a quantum computer, all one billion computations will be running on the same hardware. This is known as quantum parallelism.”
Quantum computers use storage units called quantum bits or qubits that allow for a greater volume of information, possible outcomes, and variables to be stored and accounted for than is currently possible on a traditional computer. As a result, the computer should be able to record and simulate more variables and higher exponential calculations.
The quantum computer is able to model and simulate the interactions between different atoms whilst accounting for all of the variables within the generated environment. Armed with these developments, scientists and pharmaceutical firms will be able to develop new, more precise medications. Atomic modeling could even lead to the improvement of technologies like solar cells; making them more efficient and, by extension, saving consumers more money on their electricity bills.
Some even claim that these computers might “revolutionize the discovery of new materials by making it possible to simulate the behavior of matter down to the atomic level. Or they could upend cryptography and security by cracking otherwise invincible codes. There is even hope they will supercharge artificial intelligence by crunching through data more efficiently.”
Consumers can expect to see some of the positive results of quantum computers in the ensuing years, including better medications, more energy efficient technologies, and cheaper clean energy options. Although there are already some of these computers linked to the Internet and open for public use, they are small-scale and are not yet ready for large-scale computations and modeling.
The incomplete models now being developed are continuing to progress but are only using 5 qubits instead of the 50 to 100 required to do more complex calculations and models. One researcher described the current developmental situation of the quantum computer this way: “We’re at this unique stage…We have this device that is more complicated than you can simulate on a classical computer, but it’s not yet controllable to the precision that you could do the algorithms you know how to do.”
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