Science Fiction to Science Fact: Preparing for the Quantum Age

Quantum computing is a dramatic leap forward from the computers that we have today. The main difference is that quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits comprised of optical photons compared to electrical binary digits or bits. Classical digital computing requires that the data be encoded into bits, each of which is always in one of two definite states (0 or 1), quantum computers use qubits, which can be in three states 1,0, or both. As a result, quantum computers will be able to do large computations faster than ever before, solving massively parallel problems quickly.

Quantum computers will be able to create breakthroughs in many of the most complicated data processing problems. This will have enormous implications for business, national security and on our daily lives.  For example, quantum computers will be able to more accurately predict weather patterns such as hurricane detection or the ability to model molecular interactions at an atomic level, allowing researchers and medical professionals to gain insight towards developing new medicines and a greater understanding of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Quantum computing will also have a major impact on the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which some predict as being the most disruptive future technology for both our everyday lives and business.

While there’s no industry-wide consensus on when the power of quantum computers will be available for widespread enterprise adoption, the promise of its computing power and ability to disrupt existing computing standards is an accepted certainty. It’s not a matter of if, but when.

Google announced in 2017 that it expected to achieve quantum supremacy (a quantum computer superior to any existing classical computer) by the end of the year.  Earlier this month at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Los Angeles, Google presented its new 72-qubit quantum processor – the largest yet. IBM says that the best classical computers will be beaten on some tasks within about five years.

Although the U.S. currently remains at the forefront of quantum information science, China has allocated extensive funding towards the goal of producing a functional quantum computer before anyone else. China holds the top two positions in the Top 500 list of the world’s fastest computers and China-based tech giant Alibaba recently unveiled a new cloud-based quantum computing platform featuring a quantum processor with 11 qubits of processing power as a service.

The positive impact of quantum computers is undeniable, but there are also many challenges to secure communications created by the awesome processing capacity of quantum computers. If perfected, existing methods of encryption will cease to work. A quantum computer’s ability to break the RSA coding system will render almost all current channels of communication insecure.  This means anything password protected will be easily hackable.

In 2016, 4.2 billion computerized records in the United States were compromised, a staggering 421 percent increase from the prior year. What’s more, foreign countries are stealing encrypted U.S. data and storing it, awaiting the day when quantum computers will be available to break the encryption.

Businesses need to plan for the quantum age today. They need to deploy next-generation data security solutions with equally powerful protection based on the laws of quantum physics, literally fighting quantum computers with quantum encryption. Welcome to America’s first and only quantum fiber network offering quantum encryption keys as a service. Welcome to Quantum Xchange.

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