Before we jump into the future of Quantum Computing it is necessary that we understand the very basics of Quantum Entanglement. So What Is Entanglement?
Two electrons created together are entangled. Let’s pretend you’re holding these two electrons, one in each of your hands. Let’s also pretend you just sent one of those electrons to the other side of the universe. Now, even though you only have one electron with you, what you do to the electron still in your hands, the other electron, no matter where it is, will respond instantaneously. So, either information is traveling infinitely fast, or in reality, they are still connected. Since everything was entangled at the moment of the Big Bang, everything is still connected! So then space is just a construct that gives the illusion that there are separate objects.
A different example:
Particles can become entangled when they interact with each other or are emitted from a common source. So let’s say we are going to measure the spin of the two electrons that were emitted. The spin of both particles must add up to zero, so if physicist Tom & Bob are going to take measurements of the spin from the two elections and Tom measures his electron and its spin is +1 then Tom already knows the measurement of Bob’s electron is -1. Thus resulting in zero. However, this is not the issue. The perplexing idea here is that neither particle has a definite spin before getting measured. Look at it this way: If we sent a pair of gloves (the particles) to Tom and Bob, and Bob got the left-handed glove, then Tom obviously would have the right-handed glove. But Entanglement isn’t so simple. Neither particle has a definite spin until it is measured. So it’s more like sending off a pair of mittens, and until Bob decides which hand he is going to put the mitten on we don’t know for sure which mitten Tom has, the left or the right. So essentially, what happens to one will affect the other.
Using a sort of telepathy, two particles act as a single entity, no matter if they are right next to one another or across the universe. Measurements performed on one particle seem to be influencing the other particle entangled with it. And don’t be fooled, it doesn’t have to be just two particles, China just entangled 10 pairs!
Why Should I Care About This?
Because it will affect every living human on the face of the earth. Two Words: Quantum Computing. This is the future and exactly how far this new technology will reach is not yet understood. Let me put this into perspective for you. The traditional computer you have sitting in your pocket or on that desk in your office are all faced with the same issue; they can only solve one problem at a time. Quantum computers on the other hand can solve multiple problems at the same time. Simply put, traditional computers compute using a 1 or a 0, known as binary code. Quantum computers can simultaneously hold vales of 1, 0 or both. Eric Ladizinsky, co-founder of the one of the leading quantum computing companies D-Wave explained it best; “Imagine you only have five minutes to find an “X” written on a page of a book in the Library of Congress (which has 50 million books). It would be impossible. But if you were in 50 million parallel realities, and in each reality you could look through the pages of a different book, in one of those realities you would find the X”.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds incredible. And in a way, incredibly frightening if you think about the implications. Imagine what learning technology is capable of today and what it would be capable of in the quantum computing world. Like humans, quantum computers can learn from experience and even modify code that is incorrect or messing up. This technology is similar to how Facebook modifies your news feed specifically for you just because you hit the ‘like’ button on a specific post. It’s just much more complicated. Quantum computing is more human-like in it’s approach to problem-solving which means future technology will be better suited to complement human tasks. In other words, computers of the future will have something more likened to what we humans call intuition. Being able to sense or understand something without the need for additional data. Whoa!
One thing is for certain, with quantum computing real-time data is surely to get much better and more accurate, not to mention a few other things:
Weather Forecasts – Because weather forecasting is an educated guess at best, with a multitude of possible outcomes on what a storm will do or where it will go and if and when it happens… with the aforementioned computing power, we’ll be able to process all that data that goes into creating your forecast with exceedingly greater accuracy. This will inevitably save lives.
Traffic and Air Traffic – As stated before, using traditional computers we can only crunch so much information in order to predict what is the best course of action. Taking the ‘Optimal Route’ will actually be optimal, not just an educated guess. But this offends me, as we haven’t needed to use traditional cars and airplanes for decades now as the anti-gravity problem was solved decades ago. But this is a discussion for a future post.
Military Defense – Think satellite communications. I cannot imagine for a second that the military doesn’t have a step up on this technology (not necessarily quantum computing) that puts the rest of the world’s technology to shame. This technology resides in shadows of compartmentalized projects that don’t exist. Ah, the military industrial complex as Eisenhower once warned us of.
Secure Encrypted Communication – Without losing you in technical jargon, I’m just going to say that by using quantum key distribution, all messages sent using the aforementioned would be unreadable by any intercepting party, period. However, this is already in preliminary use in places around Europe and I have no doubt that US Defense entities have this technology in place as some of the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden describe the agency’s plans to develop a quantum computer. This was 3 years ago; enough said.
Drug Discovery – The pharmaceutical companies fork over billions of dollars in research to develop drugs. They have to go over an epic amount of data to find just the right molecular combination to fight diseases and aliments. With quantum computing, the drug industry is sure to get a boost since developing new drugs will no longer take years. However, there are still clinical trials to take under consideration. Nonetheless, we are headed for a medical revolution! Mapping a person’s gene structure could happen in a single afternoon and personalized drugs meant for your specific body is right around the corner.
These are some of the obvious coming attractions with the implementation of quantum computing. The possibilities are innumerable and at a level most of us can’t even wrap our heads around yet. I’ll end with a quote from D-Wave’s Senior VP, Systems, Jeremy Hilton, “the quantum computing revolution may be even more profound than the digital computing revolution a half century ago and it will happen much faster.”