Skip to content
Home » Articles » Quantum Computing: What’s the fuss all about?

Quantum Computing: What’s the fuss all about?

The next wave of computing 

Quantum computing has been making headlines in recent years, with significant investments from governments and industry giants globally. Quantum computing is a revolutionary approach to computation that leverages the principles of quantum mechanics. It uses quantum bits, or “qubits,” which can exist in multiple states simultaneously, allowing quantum computers to process vast amounts of data exponentially faster than classical computers. This technology has the potential to transform various industries, from finance to healthcare to national security.

In this article, we will unpack the world of quantum computing, exploring its principles, potential applications, and the future it promises. We will examine the current state of quantum computing, its potential to solve complex problems, and the ethical and societal implications of this technology. 

Image credit: IBM

Why do we need to know about it? 

The recent announcement that the Australian Federal and Queensland governments have jointly invested almost a billion dollars in quantum computing startup PsiQuantum [1, 2] has generated significant media coverage and captured our attention. This investment is not limited to Australia. The US [3], UK [4], the Middle East [5], and Chinese [6] governments are also making substantial investments in this sector. The potential of quantum computing is immense. It promises to solve complex problems that are currently beyond the reach of classical computers. From drug discovery to climate modelling, quantum computing could significantly accelerate research and development in various fields.

What is quantum computing?

Quantum computing leverages the principles of quantum mechanics. It uses quantum bits, or “qubits,” which differ significantly from the classical bits used in traditional computing. In classical computing, a bit is the most basic unit of information and can be either a 0 or a 1. However, a qubit, thanks to a quantum property known as superposition [7], can be both 0 and 1 at the same time. This means that if you have two qubits, they can represent four states simultaneously (00, 01, 10, and 11). As you add more qubits, the number of states they can represent grows exponentially. This allows quantum computers to process a vast number of possibilities simultaneously, making them incredibly powerful for certain tasks.

Another key principle of quantum computing is entanglement [8]. When qubits become entangled, the state of one qubit can instantly affect the state of the other, no matter how far apart they are. This means that changing the state of one qubit can instantaneously change the state of an entangled “two qubit” object, which could be kilometres apart. This interconnectedness, combined with superposition, can help quantum computers solve complex problems more efficiently than classical computers. 

Who will use quantum computing? 

Quantum computing, with its potential to process complex calculations at unprecedented speeds, holds the promise to transform various sectors: 

Finance: Quantum computing is forecast to optimise trading strategies by analysing vast amounts of financial data in real-time [9], leading to more profitable trades. Risk assessment could also be improved, as quantum computers could quickly analyse complex financial models to assess the risk associated with different investments. Additionally, quantum computing could enhance fraud detection by identifying patterns that would be too complex for classical computers to detect. 

Healthcare: Quantum computing is expected to accelerate drug discovery. By simulating molecular interactions at an unprecedented scale, quantum computers could help researchers identify promising drug candidates more quickly. Medical imaging could also be improved. Quantum algorithms could potentially analyse medical images more accurately and faster than current methods, leading to better diagnoses and treatments [6]. 

Government: Governments could use quantum computing to solve complex optimisation problems. For example, traffic flow could be optimised by analysing and predicting traffic patterns in real-time, leading to less congestion and more efficient intelligent transportation systems [10]. Resource allocation could also be improved, as quantum algorithms could help governments optimise the distribution of resources in various areas, from public health to disaster response. 

National Security: Quantum computing is predicted to play a crucial role in national security. With their ability to factor large numbers efficiently, quantum computers could potentially break many current encryption schemes, making them a powerful tool for code-breaking. However, this also means that we need to develop new, quantum-resistant encryption methods to secure our data. The potential applications of quantum computing in image processing and machine learning are being sponsored in Govt initiatives [3]. 

When will quantum computing be available? 

Quantum computing is still in its infancy and several tech giants, including IBM, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and NVIDIA, are investing heavily in quantum computing research, accelerating the pace of development. These companies are not only developing their own quantum hardware but also launching quantum computing services on their cloud platforms now [11], making quantum computing resources accessible to researchers and developers worldwide. Predicting when quantum computers will be widely available beyond the research sector is challenging. PsiQuantum is expected to be available for broad commercial use in Australia by 2029 [2]. 

Cloud vs onPrem 

Quantum computers require specific environmental conditions, such as ultra-low temperatures and isolation from external noise, to function effectively. This makes them inaccessible for most organisations to host on their premises. The tech giants have already started offering quantum computing services on their cloud platforms [11]. This model allows users and researchers to access quantum computing power remotely. Researchers are now running quantum algorithms, experimenting with quantum circuits, and developing out use cases and applications, without having to own a quantum computer. However, as the technology matures and becomes more mainstream, we are likely to see the development of smaller, more affordable quantum computers for on-premise use. 

Advances in quantum technology could lead to the creation of quantum computers that are easier to manufacture, maintain, and operate. This could make on-premise quantum computing a viable option for more organisations, allowing them to have direct control over their quantum computing resources [12]. While the complexity and cost of quantum computers currently make cloud instances the most accessible option, the landscape is likely to change as the technology evolves and governments seek sovereign computing power. Whether through cloud instances or on-premise hardware, the goal remains the same: to harness the power of quantum computing to solve complex problems and drive innovation. 

Conclusion 

While we are still in the early stages of quantum computing development, the progress is accelerating. The recent investments made by governments and industry giants globally underscore the significance and potential of this technology. The research and development in quantum computing are not just about creating a new type of computer, but about paving the way for a paradigm shift in how we process and understand information, and transform our approach to problem-solving. However, with great power comes great responsibility. We must also consider the ethical and societal implications of this technology to ensure that the benefits of quantum computing are realised in a way that is beneficial for all. Quantum computing is not just about the technology itself, but about the future it promises. It’s about a future where complex problems can be solved more efficiently, where new discoveries are made, and where the boundaries of what is computationally possible are continually expanded. 

About Gary Morgan: Gary Morgan is an experienced board director, chief executive, consultant, and corporate advisor with extensive experience in strategy, innovation, and growth across various deep tech sectors including health tech, agtech, information security, and research. He is a Fellow at the Governance Institute of Australia and serves on the Griffith University Industry Advisory Board for the ICT School. Gary has co-authored papers and reports published in entrepreneurship and medical journals.

Acknowledgment: I would like to thank Associate Professor Muhammad Usman and Dr Akib Karim for their invaluable input and feedback. This article was crafted with the assistance of AI technology.

References:

1.”Australia signs deal worth almost $1b with PsiQuantum to build world’s first ‘useful’ quantum computer”. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2024-04-30/australia-signs-deal-for-first-useful-quantum-computer/103781352

2.“Delivering a Future Made in Australia with 400 New Technology Jobs in Brisbane”. https://statements.qld.gov.au/statements/100208

3.”National Quantum Initiative”. https://www.quantum.gov

4.” UK Government publishes the National Quantum Strategy”. https://uknqt.ukri.org/news/uk-government-publishes-the-national-quantum-strategy/

5.” Towards a Saudi blueprint for a robust quantum economy”. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2024/04/towards-saudi-blueprint-robust-quantum-economy/#:~:text=Investing%20in%20quantum%20research%20and,the%20future%20of%20Saudi%20Arabia.

6.” Is China a Leader in Quantum Technologies?”. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-quantum-technology/

7.” What Is Superposition and Why Is It Important?“. https://scienceexchange.caltech.edu/topics/quantum-science-explained/quantum-superposition

8.” What Is Entanglement and Why Is It Important?“. https://scienceexchange.caltech.edu/topics/quantum-science-explained/entanglement

9.” Quantum computing for finance”. https://www.nature.com/articles/s42254-023-00603-1

10.” Hybrid Quantum-Classical computing for Intrusion Detection in Intelligent Transportation Systems”. https://www.cutr.usf.edu/2024/01/hybridcomputingits-2-2/

11.” 13 Companies Offering Quantum Cloud Computing Software Services”. https://thequantuminsider.com/2022/05/03/13-companies-offering-quantum-cloud-computing-services-in-2022/

12.” Canberra’s Quantum Brilliance closes $26m raise backed by Main Sequence, Investible and more“. https://www.businessnewsaustralia.com/articles/canberra-s-quantum-brilliance-closes–26m-raise-backed-by-main-sequence–investible-and-more.html

en_AUEnglish