It’s natural to quickly imagine the distant future, or an alternate, Marvel-like universe where quantum computing and quantum mechanics truly belong.
The truth is, quantum computers are more real than they might seem to be; in fact, they are already revolutionizing the world as we know it as you read this article. Quantum computing is already opening new horizons for data encryption and processing. Studies have already predicted that quantum computing will become a multibillion-dollar quantum industry as early as 2030. In fact, quantum computing and quantum communication are poised to have a transformative effect across a multitude of industries, ranging from healthcare and energy to finance and security.
So, what are quantum computers exactly and what kind of revolution are they bringing about?
At the very core, quantum computers aren’t simply more advanced versions of the machines we are using day-to-day; they are much more complex than that. Our modern computers — from laptops to more sophisticated machines — share a strict limitation in how much data they can process during a specified period of time. This limitation is largely due to the fact that traditional computers operate on bits, which only come in 2 states: either 0s or 1s. In contrast, quantum computers operate on "qubits" which, unlike the bits, don’t have to adhere to the requirement of choosing one state or another. This ability to take on multiple states, known as superposition, ensures the versatility of quantum computing through uncertainty — and it unlocks never-before-seen abilities to analyze data in a very short time.
Quantum computing is already underway, accelerating the normal speed of completing various tasks and promising to change how the internet will work. Even though the technology is still in the earlier, more nascent stages, its potential is vast.
One of quantum computing’s biggest promises is to redefine cybersecurity and data encryption. Due to quantum machines’ rooting in probability and uncertainty, quantum information essentially becomes impossible to be copied or replicated. Nowadays, with security relying largely on encryption keys for data transmission, it’s in the hands of hackers to replicate the keys and gain unlawful access to information.
In the world of quantum computing and physics, data processing is not as vulnerable: In fact, an attempt to access data unlawfully will result in the dissolution of the original data composite, making quantum-backed security unhackable. As fictional as it may sound, data transmission in the quantum world is much like teleportation. With the quantum particles entangled, it’s impossible to alter one without accordingly changing the other. Accessing data equals breaking quantum physics rules.
No doubt, quantum computing is the Sonic among computers: It’s faster and more capable than anything we have encountered before. In fact, Google claims (paywall) to have created a quantum machine that can complete a 3-minute calculation that would have taken 10,000 years for a traditional computer to do.
With quantum computing accelerating data processing and task completion, this technological advancement has the potential to transform the healthcare industry as we know it — especially when it comes to pharmaceutical development and creation. With the new processing power, experimentation with molecules and particles will be infinitely faster in the race to create treatments for conditions currently considered incurable. It will also allow the unlocking of new levels of accuracy in forecasting and predictions, especially in the finance and data science fields.
The quantum revolution is not far into the future anymore; it is happening here and now, albeit on a smaller scale. Governments, tech giants and private investors are already in a race to continuously invest in research and development in quantum physics, hardware and software. With a much shorter timeline in mind, businesses need to begin factoring quantum computing into their projections and begin the preparation process for a large-scale transformation that’s underway.
One big area to tap into in order to be best prepared for the quantum revolution is accounting for quantum security. With modern data encryption techniques and keys being extremely vulnerable to breaching and hacking, there is a need for new data security protocols that will be more enduring and resilient. Businesses need to begin allocating resources towards preparing for the likelihood of adopting quantum-centric security in order to remain ahead of the curve in light of the approaching changes.
Companies also need to begin to strategize around the unique ways in which quantum computing will be complementary to their own business needs and objectives. It’s not just enough to integrate new technology with a business; it takes more planning and collaboration with scientists and researchers to devise best practices for matching quantum computing capabilities to a business’s structure, state, industry and trajectory.
The reality is, the quantum revolution is already happening — it’s not a product of the future anymore. The question isn’t, “When will it impact our lives?” but rather, “How will it change our lives?” And at this early stage, businesses can begin preparing for the onset of new technology.
Originally published in Forbes