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Is IBM Quantum Computing the Beginning of a New Digital Frontier?

While movie fans and geeks celebrated Star Wars Day, IBM revealed that their experimental chip will harness the power of quantum computing within just a few years, an ambitious move that foretells the future of technology. Many feel this could be exactly the advance IBM needs to edge in front of its behemoth competitor, Google.

It’s a fierce competition. Microsoft, Google, and IBM have made no secret of their intentions to win the race over quantum. As this digital transformation gains momentum, we the computer-users will need to think differently about computation and redraw relatively new boundaries.

What You Can Expect to See

The development of the first quantum computing service in the cloud is as exciting as it is complex. IBM will take up the mantle of educating users, which could go one of two ways. I think we can guess what those are. In either case, it is a brave and natural step in technological advancement.

They preempted the release with a free online quantum computer simulator that comes complete with a tutorial for anyone to try. It is important to note that what IBM built is quantum processors using a cloud service and not an actual full-scale quantum computer. For those physics geeks and science fiction fans, this development alone is a dream come true.

IBM released a video to further stoke the imagination.


Under the Hood

The traditional computers we all use at the moment use bits that can only be represented in either 1s or 0s (binary). Quantum adds an extra combination. Through a mechanism called superpositioning, quantum uses quantum bits or “qubits” to calculate values of one, zero, or both at the same time. IBM explains that four to five qubits are the minimum number required to support quantum algorithms and applications.

This technology is not without its volatility. The revolutionary qubits are both unreliable and unpredictable. That’s not something to bemoan, however. It’s the first step on a long journey to the future of technology.

Quantum Computing is Only the Beginning

Quantum computing will eventually open up phenomenal opportunities as blockchain, machine learning, and artificial intelligence progress beyond being more than just another round of buzzwords. I suspect that the subject matter will appeal mainly to scientists and researchers that harbor a desire to propel the industry forward.

The fact is that no one knows exactly where this will lead. And make no mistake; IBM has just taken the first step. The well documented reasons why Google and the Pentagon are keen to make progress will have conspiracy theorists shouting Skynet from the rooftops.

Whatever the future holds, there is no denying that extraordinary change is on the horizon.

Published on Retire.ly with permission from Anurag*