The last few years have seen the introduction of new technology that will change the way that we live forever. Systems that control your home like the Amazon Echo are set to change the way that we interact with technology in a big way, but this is only going to be a small change compared to the far reaching effects of quantum computing. It’s a technology that’s in its early stages and you might not have heard that much about it. All of the major tech companies are investing a huge amount of money in the development of these new technologies because they know how important they will be in the future.
What Is Quantum Computing?
The science behind quantum computing is incredibly high-level stuff that you would need a physics degree to understand so we aren’t going to go into that here, but we can talk about the basic concepts behind it.
In simple terms, a normal computer works using a series of transistors. These are basically switches, like the ones you have all around your home, but far smaller. You can fit thousands onto a small chip in your phone or computer.
Quantum theory is an area of physics that deals with particles that are smaller than an atom. When you get down to such a small scale, all of the normal laws of physics that govern everything in the world seem to go completely out of the window.
The general idea behind quantum computing is that you reduce the size of the transistors so much that they become governed by the laws of quantum theory rather than standard physics and they start to behave in a very different way. The components in a normal computer can either store a one or a zero, the combination of these one’s and zero’s make up all of the computer programs that we use every day. Where a quantum computer differs is that it can store both at the same time, and even store an infinite number of values. It can also process these numbers at the same time so instead of having to do everything one step at a time like a normal computer, it can do everything at once. Imagine how quickly a computer could run if it can do that.
So, what exactly does this mean for the future of computers?
Online security is one of the biggest problems that we are facing at the moment. Hackers are always improving their methods and cyberattacks are on the rise. Any of us could be targeted so increasing the level of security we have online is very important. Technical innovations in quantum computing will allow new levels of encryption so information can be destroyed as soon as it is intercepted by anybody that isn’t the intended recipient. The only problem is, as our security capabilities improve, the hackers will have access to the same technology and there is always the chance that they can find a way around it.
The next logical step in technology that so many people are working on is real artificial intelligence. The last decade has already seen massive leaps forward in this technology and the realms of sci-fi movies don’t seem that far away anymore. The problem is, we are limited by the amount of processing power that we can fit into these machines. With the advent of quantum computing, we’ll be able to increase the power by millions of times and open up a whole new world of possibilities.
It’s always frustrating when the weather report says it’s going to be sunny so you go out without a jacket and five minutes down the road the heavens open and you get soaked. Weather forecasting is anything but an exact science and mistakes are made all of the time. With the extra power of quantum computers, we will be able to process a lot more data in a much shorter time so we can get far more accurate ideas about what the weather is going to be. The same technology can be used to build more accurate climate change models to give us more insight into the effect that we’re having on the planet and how long we have to sort it out.
When your GPS is trying to calculate a route, it can do it pretty quickly but it can’t always react quickly enough to avoid traffic. With the power of quantum computing, the response times would be far quicker and GPS systems would also be able to better communicate with all of the other cars at the same time and everybody would be directed down the best route to reduce congestion.