By Kate Russell
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to chair a press briefing on the current state of quantum computing by IBM. Those of you who watched my report on quantum key distribution for BBC Click last year will know, I am fascinated by this subject. Quantum computers promise to run calculations far beyond the reach of any conventional supercomputer making it possible to extrapolate useful information really quickly from the oceans of data we now make across the planet. To put the need for this into perspective, by the year 2020 about 1.7 megabytes of new information will be created every second for every human being on the planet. Quantum computers have the potential to turn mountains of this data into little molehills to be stepped over in the constant quest for human improvement.
Charles Bennett of IBM Research
Charles Bennett of IBM Research is one of the founding fathers of quantum information theory, and it’s been talked about as a concept for almost a century. But there is still a lot of mystery around quantum physics. As one scientist I talked to about it said:
‘Anyone who tells you they understand quantum physics, doesn’t.’
If you’re completely new to quantum computing theory, please do watch my report on BBC Click here, as I did the best I can to explain the concept in simple terms.
Until just two years ago, quantum computers were locked up in labs; kept at near-absolute zero in dilution refrigerators, and the ideas of what could be done with them were just that – ideas in the form of algorithms that didn’t have machines to test them.
It all changed in 2016, when IBM put a 5-qubit device online for anyone to use. Since then, the world has had its eyes opened to this quantum world – from the different kinds of qubits, and architectures of the machines, to the varied possibilities, some of which is hype, but some ideas that are very real.
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