Did you know that globally we’re creating more than 2.5 Exabytes of data every day? To give you some perspective, 1 Exabyte roughly equals a million Terabytes. In laymen terms, this equals 250,000 libraries of Congress or 90 years of HD video content.
The volume of data production and our dependence on computers is only going to increase in the coming years since most of the world’s economies are still early in the process of adopting modern computing systems.
By 2020, the total amount of data in the world is expected to reach 44 zettabytes (1 zettabyte equals 44 trillion gigabytes).
Where would all this data go?
Do we have the capacity to power the growing number of computers around the globe?
And can classical computers process and interpret this data into meaningful results to fulfil our future needs?
One potential answer to all these questions is Quantum Computing.
What Are Quantum Computers and Why Are They Important?
Classical computers, the ones we use in our homes and offices, use memory units, almost as small as an atom, called transistors. They use sequences of bits – values of 0 and 1 – to interpret and understand the information we input and make decisions on its basis.
But while classical computers have revolutionized the world, deep down they’re still simple calculators with limited processing speed and ability.
They’re limited to doing one task at a time which means the more complex a task the longer it takes
Moreover, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, we’re likely to run out of energy resources to power the growing number of computers around the world by 2040.
Quantum computers, on the other hand, are energy efficient machines with the ability to process and solve significantly more complex calculations much more quickly than classical computers.
Instead of relying on bits to store and interpret data, quantum computing uses subatomic particles, since they can exist in multiple states at the same time.
While a classical bit is either 0 or 1, quantum computing makes use of quantum bits, also called ‘qubits’, that can store significantly more data than 1 and 0 since they can exist in any superposition of these values.
To understand this different between bits and qubits, imagine a sphere. A classical bit can only exist as 0 or 1 at the two poles of the sphere. But a qubit can exist anywhere on the sphere without any limitations or restrictions.
Which means a quantum computer can store significantly more data and process it exponentially faster than a classical computer, while consuming energy.
The Primary Applications of Quantum Computing
Quantum computers might not replace classical computers at the consumer level any time soon. But they have the potential to revolutionize many industries including medicine, transportation, cybersecurity and several others.
Let’s understand the practical impact of quantum computing with an example.
Imagine a database where you want to search for a particular piece of information like a name, an email address or a phone number.
A classical computer would search each line of the database one by one and come back with your desired information.
A quantum computer, using qubits, would search the whole database instantaneously. Instead of reading each line one by one, qubits can read all the lines in parallel at the same time.
Now map this example to the more complex industrial calculations with seemingly infinite variables and possibilities. For example, optimizing airline routes and schedules for everyone on the US.
Quantum computers would perform these tasks thousands of times faster than a classical computer simply because of their ability to process data instantaneously.
Here are a few other examples of the application of quantum computing:
- Healthcare & Medicine: Discovering new medicines and drugs by resolving complex chemical and molecular interactions.
- Logistics & Supply Chain: Optimizing supply routes and fleet operations for efficient logistics.
- Banking & Financial Services: Making better investments through complex financial modelling and risk assessment.
- Machine Learning & AI: Smarter and more powerful machine learning capabilities while processing large and complex data sets
- Cybersecurity: Using the laws of quantum physics for better online security
The Top Companies Working on Quantum Computing
Some of the biggest corporations in the world are not only investing in quantum computing systems but are also aggressively experimenting to make technological breakthroughs using the power of qubits.
Backed by investors like Jeff Bezos, NASA and Google, D-Wave Systems is the world’s first company to launch commercially available quantum computers. D-Wave Systems is rightly considered as one of the pioneers in quantum computing.
Other corporations working on quantum computing in different capacities include Chinese eCommerce giants Alibaba, tech companies like IBM, HP, Google, Intel, Microsoft and several others like Airbus, Lockheed Martin and Nokia.
Job Opportunities and Career Prospects in Quantum Computing
Since quantum computing is a highly specialized industry that is growing at a rapid rate, there’s ample need for competent professionals with the right skillset and academic background.
Some of the most lucrative jobs in this industry are in the areas of quantum physics and quantum information systems.
Professionals with background in research, programming and data sciences are also required.
However, since the industry itself is evolving, anyone who joins a company working on quantum computing will need to evolve with it.
In the U.S, most of these jobs are located in California and Washington. While outside the U.S, countries like Canada, Australia and Scandinavia are hot spots for quantum computing jobs.
Quantum computing is a potentially world-changing technology with huge implications for our future. Some of the most innovative organizations in the world are betting on it which is why it has a high probability of success. At the same time, it has opened up lucrative new career opportunities for professionals with the right skillset.
Are you planning to become a part of this fast emerging industry?
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