Michael Zagari

Quantum Computing

In the near future, quantum computers could be a breakthrough technology for humanity.

Today, computer scientists around the world including tech giants, IBM and Google, are in the early stages working to develop the world’s very first quantum computer.

If successful, this supercomputer could be 100 million times faster than our strongest computer we have today.

So, what exactly is quantum computing and how will this technology be a part of our future?

You’re about to find out.

When you hear the term supercomputer, what comes to mind first? Is it a large dark room with thousands of computers or servers all interconnected? Given the potential computational power of quantum computers, it’s easy to expect them to be gigantic but today’s models are actually about the size of a domestic fridge. So, what exactly is quantum computing?

Quantum computers are meant to address problems that cannot be addressed by computers we use today. There are problems that could take billions of years to solve on these computers or smart phones and then there’s quantum computers that can solve these same problems in just seconds. Quantum computing is a new type of computer that can help us solve certain types of problems significantly faster.

Here are a few examples of quantum computing:

We could use the technology to help us find the right materials to enable carbon capture and address climate change. We could discover more efficient fertilizers that would not harm the Earth, but also continue the food supply chain that we need to feed the entire planet.

We could also discover the true fundamentals of how our universe was created and how matter behaves at the atomic and subatomic level.

Let’s take one area of research that is already underway by scientists. The search for new batteries.

We all know the importance of batteries and how this technology has transformed our lives.

Today, batteries are crucial to our clean energy future. Whether it’s powering electric cars or unlocking the true potential of renewable energy. Humanity is in need of a fundamentally different chemistry to create the batteries for tomorrow. Quantum computing would allow us to effectively look inside the battery during its very complex reactions and enable us to think differently about new materials that could one day be used to power the next generation of electronic devices.

So how exactly does quantum computing work?

First, let us understand the technology we are using today. A normal computer works with key like structures that open and close, which are called bits. To better illustrate what a bit, consider the example of flipping a coin.

Imagine that bit one is the equivalent to the head side of the coin and a bit zero is equivalent to the tails side of the coin. In quantum computers, instead of using classical bits of ones and zeros, we use quantum bits or qubits.

A quantum bit can be one and it can be zero, but it can also be something called a superposition of zero and one. Here is an example of what I mean.

If I were to spin a coin on your kitchen table the outcome would be either heads or tails, right? Bit 1 or bit zero. Since the coin is spinning, we have both bit 1 and bit zero as a possible outcome.

Remember with a normal computer, the most basic unit of information is a bit (0 or 1).

A quantum computer on the other hand uses qubit which has a more fluid nature than a bit. A qubit can simultaneously be 0 and 1 with some probability of being zero and some probability of being 1. A superposition is a property of a qubit to be in a fluid nature, the coin spinning, which states the outcome of the flipped coin can be something other than 0 or 1.

This is a bit complicated, isn’t it? (no pun intended)

So what type of disruption are we talking about?

Quantum computing could impact many industries, including the financial industry, medicine, materials, logistics space, but let’s not stop there as the possibilities are quite endless.

So how exactly will Google, IBM or any scientist in the world bring this technology to life?

It turns out there are actually multiple ways to build a quantum computer. First, you could build a quantum computer by using diamonds. This tiny ring like, carved from a single crystal synthetic diamond could be useful for producing and detecting single photons. The reason why that is important is because photons can be used as qubits in a quantum computer.

A another way to build a quantum computer is by using something called trapped ions. It is basically atoms with a net electric charge that is found within a particular space. And finally, you could build a quantum computer with superconductors. It’s a quantum chip and it’s very small with this entire infrastructure build around it. In fact, it kind of looks like a chandelier. The infrastructure built around is designed to cool down, control and manipulate the quantum chip. This approach is actually one of the most popular ways to build a quantum computer in fact, Google and IBM are working on this exact model today.

Although there seems to be many different ways to build a quantum computer, the technology today has not been developed yet. The potential however is very promising which now leads us to security.

Going back a few years ago, one of the reasons why quantum computing became popular is because a quantum algorithm could basically break down many encryption methods even the technology used today. We’re talking about the same encryption that keeps your credit card and bank information secure on online. When quantum computing is solved, it will be capable of cracking algorithms used for encryption today.

Since quantum computing could be powerful enough to break through today’s common encryption level, corporations and governments would be wise to pay close attention to this emerging technology.

At some point in the future, someone with bad intentions is going to figure out how to use this technology and the consequences could be severe for the unprepared. As a result, corporations and governments should start today to think about how to encrypt their data against this future threat.

So why does quantum computing really matter?

For a logistics company who delivers globally, may want to know the optimal route to save on fuel costs. Or an investment company wants to balance risk of their investment portfolios. Perhaps, a pharmaceutical company wants to simulate molecules to better understand drug interactions.

There are endless possibilities of the technology’s true potential both for society and profitability.

As our technology advances, the problems encountered will become more complex. Quantum computing could provide a solution or application for complex problems such as protein modeling. The latest global crisis caused by COVID-19 shows that scientists need a different tool to model a single protein and deactivate it.

We are also facing an exponential rise in complex problems in energy usage. As the human population increases and consumption rate increases exponentially, more complex problems like optimization of resources are arising.

Since quantum computerization create high investment costs, trial and error of all different approaches will be costly in both time and financial terms. Today, different approaches for different applications seem to be the most promising solution.

If you think quantum computing is being developed outside of Canada, think again. IBM, in partnership with the Canadian government, has chosen Quebec to house its first universal quantum system in Canada at the IBM Bromont plant in Bromont, Quebec.

The IBM Quantum System One will help researchers develop new solutions in sectors such as energy, life sciences, and sustainability, as well as to improve quantum computers.

Have a great weekend!

Talk soon,

Michael Zagari, FCSI, CIM, CIWM

Investment Advisor with Mandeville Private Client Inc.

Financial Security Advisor with Zagari + Simpson

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I do not hold a beneficial long position in the shares of IBM either through stock ownership, options, or other derivatives. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it. I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article

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