As news broke about a purported breakthrough or Proof of Concept in Quantum computing by Google, it had me fascinated about the possibilities. As explained by many websites and journals, quantum computers work in qubits (short for quantum bits) which are not binary. They can exist in both states at the same time. The breakthrough came in the form of a computation that Google claims was done in 3 minutes and 20 seconds by their system called Sycamore. The same computation would take 10000 years, if done by super computers. Benefits of this speed would apply to multiple fields, including medical research, Machine Learning, AI and has the potential to fundamentally change the way future generations perceive technology.
The foundations of today’s technology lies in bits and the architectures that govern every computing system that we use, be it mobile phones, computers, the Internet and any software/ hardware rely on the ability to manipulate bits. Every hardware can be narrowed down to the processors and the memory. Both of these components operate in 0s and 1s. All of the programming languages, low-level and high-level, fundamentally manipulate the 0s and 1s. What if the there exists a state apart from 0 or 1? What if there is a 0 and 1? Increasing the dimension by just one degree can lead to mind-boggling number of possibilities. With my limited understanding of quantum compute, it appears that the demonstration of Sycamore has shown a 10,000% increase in speed of processing. That is quite incredible.
There are multiple startups exploring the quantum computing space and obviously, these are very early days in the highly complex technology. Not just startups, behemoths such as Google, IBM, Intel and possibly NASA have projects that are attempting to control the qubits, which can be difficult to manage. Assuming that in a few years, this control will be achieved, what does a peek into the crystal ball show us?
- A new software programming paradigm (and a mushrooming of training courses to address this need)
- Applications wherever the search is for a needle in a haystack, such as compounds to treat medical conditions, DNA sequencing, would be achieved in a few minutes, leading to treatment of thus far untreated maladies
- Data transfer speeds that are unimaginable today
- Information storage will be passe, as will analytics. Everyone who needs to know something about any demographic will have access to it on their fingertips.
- And most importantly, One world, one language perhaps! A device that can translate the language being heard to something comprehensible by the listener
The possibilities are endless. The crystal ball clouds over, heats up and dies. Time for a quantum based crystal ball?