“The Disruptive Power of Quantum Computing”

By: DT News Network
May, 21, 2019

Authored by Mr. Matthew Brisse, VP Analyst, Gartner

It makes sense that sci-fi-level myths might surround a technology that must be stored in a container colder than interstellar space and has the potential to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems.

CIOs have been inundated with quantum computing hype: “Quantum computers will operate faster than the speed of light,” or “Quantum computers will replace conventional systems” or “Quantum computing will render all security encryption algorithms obsolete.” The truth is that quantum solutions could revolutionize the entire IT industry with major economic, industrial, academic and societal impacts. But they won’t operate faster than light travels or replace current computing systems, and although they’ll challenge some security encryptions, they won’t render them all obsolete overnight.

Quantum computing is heavily hyped and evolving at different rates, but it should not be ignored. It holds great promise, especially in the areas of chemistry, optimization, machine learning and AI to name a few. Today’s data scientists simply cannot address key opportunities in these areas because of the compute limitations of classic computer architectures.

What is quantum computing?

Quantum computing is a type of nonclassical computing based on the quantum state of subatomic particles. Quantum computing is fundamentally different from classic computers, which operate using binary bits. This means the bits are either 0 or 1, true or false, positive or negative. However, in quantum computing, the bit is referred to as a quantum bit, or qubit. Unlike the strictly binary bits of classic computing, qubits can, strangely, represent a range of values in one qubit. This representation is called “superpositioning.”

Superpositioning is what gives quantum computers speed and parallelism, as each qubit can represent a quantitative solution to a problem.

The ability for a quantum computer to outperform a classical computer is called “quantum supremacy.” While it may sound like a sci-fi dream, experts believe that for a limited number of computing problems, quantum supremacy will be a reality in a matter of years.

Potential applications of quantum computing

Applications for quantum computing will be narrow and focused, as general-purpose quantum computing will most likely never be economical. However, the technology does hold the potential to revolutionize certain industries. Quantum computing could enable breakthroughs by:

  • Machine learning: Improved ML through faster structured prediction. Examples include Boltzmann machines, quantum Boltzmann machines, semisupervised learning, unsupervised learning and deep learning.
  • Artificial intelligence: Faster calculations could improve perception, comprehension, and circuit fault diagnosis/binary classifiers.
  • Chemistry: New fertilizers, catalysts, battery chemistries will all drive improvements in resource utilization
  • Biochemistry: New drugs, tailored drugs, and maybe even hair restorer.
  • Finance: Quantum computing could enable faster, more complex Monte Carlo simulations; for example, trading, trajectory optimization, market instability, price optimization and hedging strategies.
  • Healthcare: DNA gene sequencing, such as radiotherapy treatment optimization/brain tumor detection, could be performed in seconds instead of hours or weeks.
  • Materials: super strong materials; corrosion proof paints; lubricants; semiconductors
  • Computer science: Faster multidimensional search functions; for example, query optimization, mathematics and simulations.

Is encryption at risk?

Researchers have shown how quantum computing could kill, or at least significantly weaken, current cryptography systems. If true, this would jeopardize any business that relies on encryption. If a sufficiently powerful quantum computer becomes available within 10 or so years, any data that has been published or intercepted is subject to cryptanalysis by a future quantum computer.

Most security professionals speculate that quantum computing will eventually render RSA cryptography and ECC useless but will not be able to effectively counter hash, code, lattice-based or multivariate-quadratic-equations cryptography.

The risk of ignoring quantum computing

The physics, materials and control systems of quantum computers remain uncertain, but the potential for disruption is driving large organizations like IBM, Google, Intel and Microsoft to heavily invest in quantum hardware and software. Startups in multiple industries are emerging, alongside new skill sets — from quantum algorithm experts and designers to quantum circuit engineers and applied physicists.

CIOs should view quantum computing as a competitive advantage, as new quantum-inspired algorithms could bring innovative solutions and approaches to product development. It could also reduce time to market and optimize customer delivery.  

CIOs should focus on business value, and expect results to be at least 5 years out

Gartner projections should be used to manage expectations inside the organization. Take this time to identify opportunities to provide support to clients or customers, or leverage industry breakthroughs. Consider looking to the R&D group for support and ensure you have access to a resource who can help you translate quantum technology into opportunities in your business.

By 2023, 90% of enterprise quantum computing investments will engage quantum consulting organizations to help shape problems that can leverage quantum algorithms.

What to do next?

Gartner predicts that by 2023, 20% of organizations will be budgeting for quantum computing projects, compared to less than 1% today. CIOs should look for potential opportunities from quantum computing and be ready to help the business leverage them.

These opportunities will need to be fully integrated with traditional IT, and will require new cross-collaboration from research scientists, computational data scientists and quantum data scientists. This new development paradigm is critical to the success of any quantum program.

It is time to learn more about quantum computing.

 

 

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