The Fourth Industrial Revolution is in high gear, and advances in AI and machine learning are poised to transform the way we work and live—but there’s a speed bump ahead. After 50 years, Moore’s Law, an observed pattern of aggressive performance gains in microchips, is slowing down, and the clockwork advances in processing power we once took for granted are slowing with it.
Quantum computing, with its stunning potential for blazing-fast calculations, might just offer us a way forward. Here’s a brief primer on this cutting-edge technology and how it could supercharge your business tech in the not too distant future.
Quantum computing: from bits to qubits
All classical computing devices, including the one you’re staring at right now, store data as electrical signals that neatly occupy one of two binary states either 0 or 1. These parts make up a bit, the most basic unit of traditional computing. Quantum computers, however, store data far more efficiently in quantum bits, or qubits, that can simultaneously exist in multiple states. By harnessing the dynamic of quantum entanglement, which Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance,” these futuristic computers can perform complex calculations at ultra fast speeds.
Since these concepts originated in the realm of quantum mechanics, quantum computing is still a largely theoretical field. As Gizmodo reports, scientists have only recently captured an image of quantum entanglement to give us a first glimpse—and an admittedly fuzzy one—into how this spooky action occurs. But make no mistake, quantum computers are serious business. According to MIT Technology Review, Google has enlisted the aid of NASA to demonstrate quantum supremacy, as the tech giant is now seeking to prove definitively that quantum processors can outperform their classical cousins.
Quantum computers are coming to a business near you
“That’s all deliciously nerdy,” you may be thinking, “but what are the odds that a business like mine would actually have a use case for quantum computing?” As it turns out, quantum computers may soon take on some of today’s toughest business tech challenges, such as encryption and decryption, Artificial Intelligence, financial modeling, and even weather forecasting.
Many companies are trying to capitalize on big data, for example, to enhance the customer experience and identify new business models. While we’ve largely tackled the storage problem thanks to the cloud, performing sophisticated simulations or queries against a massive data set is still no simple task, even with today’s top computing resources. In many cases, time is of the essence when it comes to delivering meaningful business value with such computations.
Quantum computing could save the day in just this sort of scenario by dramatically reducing the time needed to derive insights, pivot into new markets, optimize financial portfolios, or discover new drugs. Since AI and machine learning also rely on vast pools of data, they could also benefit from an infusion of quantum processing power.
Prepare your business to go quantum
With quantum computers on the way, now is a good time to begin thinking about whether your company is ready for the coming quantum wave—particularly if you already have sophisticated computing needs. Consider whether your organization is butting up against barriers with specific computational tasks. If those barriers involve optimization, modeling, or machine learning, then quantum computing might help you achieve the breakthroughs you seek.
As with any potential investment in bleeding-edge technology, you’ll need to run a cost-benefit analysis. What kind of revenue could you ultimately generate if you solved your computing problem, and how much would it cost you to get there? If your projections look promising, consider what kind of quantum approach would grant you the most computational advantages. Startups and technology firms are developing quantum computers for a variety of business tech use cases, so conduct a thorough search to determine which quantum technologies could meet your requirements.
Keep a close eye on security concerns
When it comes to the quantum impact on security, there’s good news and bad news. As TechTarget reports, quantum computers will enable successful brute force attacks on several industry-standard encryption algorithms right out of the gate, particularly asymmetric varieties like RSA and elliptic curve. Symmetric algorithms like AES, however, are thought to be less vulnerable. Meanwhile, China has managed to create an unhackable quantum messaging network, raising intriguing questions about how businesses could use quantum computers to secure their communications.
As our quantum future comes into focus, keep close tabs on this emerging technology so you can understand how it may align with your business goals. In the meantime, you can protect your existing investments by leveraging the advanced technologies of today, like print security solutions that use machine learning to self-heal after attacks. With a bit more time in your day, you can better capitalize on emerging tech trends like quantum computers to stay well ahead of the curve—and the competition.