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On 23rd of October, 2019 Google CEO, Mr. Sundar Pichai, announced “Quantum Supremacy” one of the ultimate goal of quantum computing. He said Google’s quantum computer carried out a specific calculation that is beyond the practical capabilities of regular, ‘classical’ machines. The same calculation would take even the best classical supercomputer 10,000 years to complete, Google estimates.
The race for Quantum Supremacy started way back in the 1980s, but it is only after 30 years that Google has published some encouraging results. “The practical benefits of Quantum computing is still a dream, till we can form a stable generation of Quantum computers” experts opined. “However, the present results declared by Google can be compared to the first rocket that successfully left Earth’s gravity to touch the edge of space” agreed researchers and contributors.
The latest rounds in investments have seen the tech industry’s biggest names, including Microsoft, Intel, IBM, and Alibaba. They have been racing, collaborating, and competing for their share of the pie in the Quantum rush. Venture capitalists have poured in more than $450 million into start-ups exploring the technology, according to a recent study. Companies all across the globe are collaborating and working on the development of a stable fifth-generation computing machine.
Though Quantum Computing space is dominated by biggies like Google, IBM, and likes, even Start-Ups are not much behind the race. But of course, the commercial use of the technology and hence its popularity amongst private players and VCs is not that visible at this stage. There are only a small number of Start-Ups in the industry that have been able to raise at least $50M (and fewer with over $100M), which suggests that commercial application of quantum computers. D-Wave is the most well-funded private quantum computing company with $210M raised to date, followed by Rigetti Computing ($119M), Silicon Quantum Computing ($66M), and Cambridge Quantum Computing (CQC) ($50M).
Along with company investments, the EU, US, Australian, and Chinese governments are also backing projects aimed at building quantum computers. “China is spending $400 million on a national quantum lab and has filed almost twice as many quantum patents as the United States in recent years. The US followed suit this year with its own National Quantum Initiative, promising to spend $1.2 billion on quantum research, including computers”, reported wire. China’s government launched the world’s first quantum satellite in the quest for more secure communications in 2016.
Google is deploying its homegrown Quantum Computer, Sycamore, to Google Deep Mind, a platform dedicated to R&D in fields of AI and ML.
AT&T is aiming to build a quantum communications network. The firm has started building a quantum network hosted at Fermilab at Illinois, in collaboration with CALTECH and NASA.
IBM is aiming for a lead in commercial quantum computing space. It has launched “IBM Q System One”, a 20 qubit Quantum Computer hosted on the cloud for commercial use.
“In time to come, wars will be fought for data supremacy and not land or gold ”
Quantum Computing Applications
The investment patterns and news of collaborative efforts between Governments and organizations like Google, Microsoft, IBM — clearly indicates the potential utility and disrupting nature of Quantum computing. It can change the world by solving problems that are impossible for contemporary computers.
Quantum computers will disrupt every industry and practically the whole world. Faster and probabilistic computations will change businesses and the security we have in place to safeguard data, how diseases are fought and invent new materials, and solve health and climate problems.
The top five fields which will be disrupted by Quantum computing are; Healthcare, weather forecast, BSFI, and Cyber Security.
A new drug development takes considerable time and costs millions. With conventional computing machines, a new drug discovery may take months or even a decade!
The drug discovery process involves the evaluation of interactions at the molecular level between proteins, molecules, and chemicals. Given the broad set of possible interactions, the evaluation process is tedious and time taking. It is one of these interactions, which will prove to be the best fit to cure a deadly disease.
Due to the non-binary and superimposing abilities of Quantum computers, they can analyze multiple molecule-protein-chemical interactions possibilities simultaneously. This significant increase in computational power may reduce drug discovery time from years to just a few hours.
Atomwise, an AI company, reported an encouraging and essential drug discovery for the Ebola virus. This process, which typically would have taken months or years, was completed in less than one day. Atomwise claims, “this technology could be immediately applied to other pathogens, like avian flu, measles, and drug-resistant tuberculosis.”
Genome sequencing is another field that will be revolutionized by the advent of stable and viable large qubit Quantum computers. It determines the order and orientation of nucleiodes, building blocks of DNAs, which is essential for genetic profiling.
Meteorological investigations and forecasting involve zettabytes of data, including wind, humidity, pressure profiles, etc. This large data set takes huge time and computing prowess to analyze and predict.
Conventional weather forecasting systems can cover 12-15 km of land area and updates every 6-12 hours. Computational limitations cause in-accuracy and hence losses in agricultural productivity.
In jan’2019, IBM launched a Global High-Resolution Atmospheric Forecasting System (GARF), which can provide accurate hourly weather predictions for a land area as small as 3 square Kilometers. GARF utilizes IBM supercomputers, following quantum algorithms, to analyze crowdsourced and in-flight from a massive IoT network of sensors.
BFSI (Banking, Financial Services and Insurance)
The financial market is full of possibilities and uncertainties, brining in assumptions and probabilities. An analyst is dependent on the accuracy and speed of algorithms that are evaluating thousands of possibilities market can behave and select portfolio can perform. Quantum computing can help eliminate ambiguity in data and prevent less probable assumptions from causing loses. Quantum computing particularly helps in solving complex optimization problems such as portfolio risk optimization and fraud detection.
Quantum encryption is the need of the time, given significant transactions floating over wires. The success of a Blockchain primarily depends on its security, and quantum encryption brings that reliability in the system.
Quantum encryption is a process of sending entangled photons over long distances in what is known as Quantum Key Distribution (QKD) for securing sensitive communications. Whenever a quantum encrypted communication undergoes unauthorized interception, the encryption scheme will flag immediate signs of disruption and declare lapse in security.
“We’re at the dawn of this quantum computing age. We believe we’re right on the cusp of providing capabilities you can’t get with classical computing. In almost every discipline, you’ll see these types of computers make this kind of impact.” – Vern Brownell, CEO, D-Wave Systems