• Wed. Nov 29th, 2023

    Critical Thought

    Critical thoughts on quantum technologies

    Exploring the Quantum Leap: How Quantum Computing is Transforming the World

    ByThemba Hadebe

    Nov 17, 2023
    Exploring the Quantum Leap: How Quantum Computing is Transforming the World

    Quantum computing is on the verge of revolutionizing the world as we know it. While artificial intelligence has been grabbing the headlines, the potential impact of quantum computing is even more profound. A collaboration between VICE News and HSBC aims to shed light on the questions surrounding internationalism, global connection, and collaboration. Today, we delve into the realm of subatomic particles and uncover the vast possibilities that lie within.

    But first, let’s understand what quantum computing actually is. Our current devices, including the one you’re using to read this article, operate based on the same principles as the early computers of the 20th century. However, quantum computing is about to disrupt this status quo. While conventional computers use the binary system, where data is represented as 0s and 1s, quantum computing utilizes the principles of subatomic physics to process information in a completely different way. Qubits, the fundamental units of information in quantum computers, can exist in multiple states simultaneously, offering unprecedented processing power.

    If this sounds mind-boggling, you’re not alone. Quantum mechanics, the foundation of quantum computing, is famously complex. According to American theoretical physicist Richard Feynman, understanding quantum mechanics means admitting that you don’t really understand it at all.

    So, what can these quantum computers actually do? Despite the initial skepticism, recent breakthroughs have made them more reliable and accurate. While current quantum computers are relatively small, with the largest boasting only 433 qubits, it is estimated that a million qubits will unleash their full potential.

    One of the most exciting applications of quantum computing lies in optimizing existing processes to reduce carbon emissions. For instance, a Japanese software company used quantum computing to develop sustainable cities by optimizing waste management and cutting CO2 emissions by 57%. Additionally, quantum computers can enhance the efficiency of energy grids and aid the automotive industry in supply chain management and the development of advanced batteries for electric vehicles.

    The financial services sector stands to benefit significantly from quantum computing as well. With the ability to process enormous amounts of data quickly, banks can make more accurate market predictions and scenario calculations. HSBC is already exploring the potential of quantum technologies in areas such as pricing and collateral optimization.

    But it doesn’t stop there. Quantum computers have the potential to expedite the discovery of new treatments and vaccines, as well as aid in early intervention for cancer patients by predicting the development of malignant cells. The possibilities for innovation are truly endless.

    However, like any powerful technology, quantum computing comes with its share of concerns. As quantum computers grow in power, there are worries that they could crack current encryption protocols, jeopardizing our online security. On the flip side, quantum communication could revolutionize cybersecurity, offering unparalleled protection for sensitive data. HSBC is already investigating Quantum Key Distribution, a technology that uses quantum physics to create ultra-secure encryption systems.

    While quantum computing is already making strides, we are still in the early days. The term “quantum supremacy” refers to the moment when quantum computers surpass the capabilities of existing supercomputers. We’re not quite there yet, but the potential is undeniable.

    As we embark on this quantum journey, it’s essential to address some frequently asked questions:

    1. Is quantum computing difficult to understand?
    Yes, quantum mechanics is a complex field of study, and even experts admit that it can be challenging to grasp fully.

    2. Can quantum computers enhance energy efficiency and sustainability?
    Absolutely. Quantum computing has the potential to optimize processes, reduce carbon emissions, and maximize efficiency in various industries, including energy and transportation.

    3. Is there a risk to online security with quantum computers?
    There is a potential risk of quantum computers being able to crack current encryption protocols. However, quantum communication also offers the promise of revolutionizing cybersecurity with its robust encryption capabilities.

    4. How close are we to experiencing quantum supremacy?
    While quantum computing is advancing rapidly, we are still in the early stages. Achieving quantum supremacy, where quantum computers surpass supercomputers, is yet to be realized.

    As we ponder the vast possibilities of quantum computing, one thing is certain: this emerging technology has the potential to transform our world in unimaginable ways. From optimizing processes and advancing industries to revolutionizing online security, the quantum leap is upon us. Get ready to embrace the future.