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Thursday, 8 August 2019

Is quantum computing really as groundbreaking as all that?

Is quantum computing really all that groundbreaking as all that? In a word, yes. Quantum computers have the power to solve certain kinds of particularly thorny problems in seconds, while today’s supercomputers would take thousands of years, the Economist says. And the prospect of being able to compute the formula for new fuel or medicine, break encryption, or make real-time stock predictions based on data from every trade ever made has governments and tech giants in a fierce race to lead the world in quantum science.

But that doesn’t mean it will replace the computers we use now: Quantum computers are incredibly difficult to run, and currently stored only in very controlled lab environments, at temperatures lower than that of deep space. Even as quantum computers become more advanced, we won’t be carrying them around with us to edit photos or send emails. Instead, the likelihood is that a few companies will end up having the best computers — whether powered by startups or industry giants — and as users, we’ll be able to access them on a time-share basis, using the cloud. Or we’ll simply send off our quantum problems and wait for the powers that be to answer (watch, runtime: 03:56).

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