Quantum computer in a vibration-free building. Quantum computing will ultimately accelerate the computing power that drives many industries and could affect everything from drug discovery to how data is secured.
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Quantum computing was already accelerating in Japan and elsewhere in Asia when the University of Tokyo and IBM launched their new quantum computer last year.
The computer was the second such system built outside the United States by IBM – the newest in a series of key moves in quantum research.
Quantum computing refers to the use of quantum mechanics to take care of calculations. Quantum computing can drive multiple processes simultaneously using quantum bits, as opposed to binary bits that power traditional computing.
The new technology will ultimately accelerate the computing power that drives many industries and could affect everything from drug discovery to how data is secured. Several countries are racing for fully functional quantum computers.
Christopher Savoie, CEO of quantum computing firm Zapata, who has spent much of his career in Japan, said technology development has been very much a U.S. central one. But now, Asian nations do not want to be left behind in quantum computing, he added.
“National states like India, Japan and China are very interested in not being the only people without capacity there. They don’t want to see such hegemony that arose where the big cloud aggregators are generally just US companies,” Savoie said, referring to similarities. of Amazon Online Services and Microsoft Azure.
India, for its part, announced plans earlier this year to invest $ 1 billion in a five-year plan to develop a quantum computer in the country.
James Sanders, an analyst at S&P Global Market Intelligence, told CNBC that governments around the world have become more interested in quantum computing in recent years.
In March, Sanders released a report that found that governments had pledged about $ 4.2 billion to support quantitative research. Some notable examples include South Korea’s $ 40 million investment in the field and funding from Singapore’s Ministry of Education for a research center, The Center for Quantum Technologies.
All these efforts have a long lens on the future. And for some, the benefits of quantum may seem vague.
According to Sanders, the benefits of quantum computing are not going to be obvious to everyday consumers.
“On a bad day, I’m talking to people against the idea of quantum cell phones. That’s not realistic, that’s not going to be an issue,” he said.
“What is likely to happen is that quantum computers will end up being used to design products that consumers will eventually buy.”
There are two main areas where quantum success will be felt – industry and defense.
A staff member of Q.ant puts a chip for quantum computing at a test station in Stuttgart, Germany, on September 14, 2021. The power of quantum computing is expected to be able to decrypt RSA encryption, one of the most common encryption methods for secure data.
Thomas Kienzle | Afp | Getty Images
“Areas where you have HPC [high-performance computing] there are areas where we will see quantum computers have an impact. It’s about things like material simulation, aerodynamic simulation, things like that, very high, difficult computer problems, and then machine learning of artificial intelligence, “Savoie said.
In pharmaceuticals, traditional systems for calculating the behavior of drug molecules may be time-consuming. The speed of quantum computing could rapidly increase these processes around drug discovery and, ultimately, the timeline for drugs coming to market.
On the other hand, quantum could present security challenges. As computing power progresses, so does the risk to existing security methods.
“The longer term [motivation] but what everyone recognizes as an existential threat, both offensively and defensively, is the cryptographic area. RSA will later be compromised because of this, “Savoie added.
RSA refers to one of the most common encryption methods for securing data, developed in 1977, that could be overturned at the rate of quantification. It is named after its inventors – Ron Rivest, Adi Shamir and Leonard Adleman.
“You see a lot of interest from governments and communities who don’t want to be the last people on the block to have that technology because [other nations] will be able to decipher our messages, “Savoie said.
Magda Lilia Chelly, chief information security officer at Singaporean cybersecurity firm Responsible Cyber, told CNBC that there needs to be a twin track of encryption and quantum research and development so that security does not override.
“Some experts believe that quantum computers will eventually be able to break all forms of encryption, while others believe that new and more complex forms of encryption will be developed that cannot be broken by quantum computers,” Chelly said.
Quantum processor on a prototype quantum computer. There needs to be a twin track of encryption and quantum research and development so that security does not outweigh, said Magda Lilia Chelly, chief information security officer at Singapore-based cybersecurity firm Responsible Cyber.
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“In particular, [researchers] looked at ways to use quantum computers to factor large numbers quickly. This is important because many of the modern encryption schemes used today depend on the fact that it is very difficult to factor large numbers, “she added.
If successful, this would make it possible to break most current encryption schemes, making it possible to unlock messages that are encrypted.
Sanders said the development and eventual commercialization of quantum computing will not be a straight line.
Topics like the threat of encryption can reap attention of governmentsbut research and success, as well as major interest, can be a “stop-start,” he said.
Progress can also be influenced by shifting interest from private investors because quantum computing will not deliver a quick return on investment.
“There are a lot of situations in this industry where you might have a lead for a week and then another company will come out with another type of progress and then everything will calm down a bit.”
Another threatening challenge for quantum research is finding the right talent with specific skills for this research.
“Quantum scientists who can do quantum computing don’t grow on trees,” Savoie said, adding that cross-border cooperation is necessary in the face of competing government interests.
“Talent is global. People can’t choose which country they’re born in or what their nationality is.”