Computers, as simple as they seem, their capabilities and speed to calibrate problems and equations is something un-achievable by human brain. A computer, as one may think, is not just a medium that offers you a range of applications, but is, simply, a calculator. You give the computer command, it feeds that command in the processing unit. Which is then loaded, processed and calibrated before giving you the desired result. While the computer definitely runs on human commands, its ability to process a command, and calibrate it without a chance of manual error is what makes a machine more efficient than us. While classic computers have continued to help us real-life computations for a long time, the need for technological advancements and building a tech-based world society, has raised up requirements for more advanced solutions to our computational problems in different fields of expertise. And since these problems are too hard for a classic computer to calibrate, the researchers have turned to quantum computing.
American computer systems manufacturer IBM recently unveiled what it claims to be the “world’s first integrated quantum computing machine,” called IBM Q System One. What’s Q System One? What IBM has at stake with this? What this could mean for the future of computing systems? Let’s take it, “bit-by-bit”.
Quantum Computing In A Nutshell
So, you’ve all learned binary numbers at school, right? The language that computers understand? Ringing any bells? A classic computer doesn’t accept or understand a word-written command. Whatever you do on a computer is stored in its memory as a piece of information in the form of binary units, comprised of just 0s and 1s. So, a classic computer performs all calculations in binary. Since a binary unit can either be a 0 or 1, the reach of computational complexness that a computer can handle or accept is also limited. There are always benchmarks that a computer cannot achieve because of the limitations of its algorithms to process and store information above a specific limit and complexity.
That’s where quantum computing comes in place. Quantum computing works on the laws of quantum mechanics, where science is studied for particle matters much smaller in size and scale, in fact, smaller than an atom. Such particles are called subatomic particles or quantum particles. Now, let’s consider that these subatomic particles are computer bits. In quantum computing, the information received by the computer can be manipulated further into more complex and smaller bits.
This can be done by a phenomenon called quantum entanglement; the superimposition of binary bits over one another to form connected, paired, or grouped bits of information. Paired bits tend to process more complex and intricate information for calibration, since they can exist in more than one single state, unlike binary forms. These bits, entangled together, dependent on each other’s properties are called qubits.
Quantum computing basically takes the study of computers to a smaller scale. A pair of binary bits 0 and 1 in quantum state can form four embodied states if superimposed. Similarly, three qubits of 0 and 1 can be paired in eight different states. Now imagine hundreds of them; it would give you pairs of states that would exceed the number of particles in the universe. That is the extent of quantum computation.
What Quantum Computing Can Offer Us?
We always hear a number of projections in regard to share market, sports, world or national economy, medical research, and weather. These projections direct our daily life decisions and shape a huge section of our future. But, where do we get these projections for? Computation. Software and computer machines running incoming data and information on mathematical algorithms to determine or estimate what can the future of that particular field look like.
The data from oceanic currents determine what weather can we expect tomorrow. MRIs in hospitals allow doctors to find best treatment for the patient. The current decisions of business conglomerates allow financial analysts to manipulate the share charts and change the shape of tomorrow’s economy. However, still, there are a number of complex computational problems that are far beyond the understanding of any classic computer or brain power on Earth. Quantum computing can be a high-end upgrade to what we know of computational analysis. Weather and financial status would be available sooner than we ever have to face their consequences.
Doctors and surgeons would be able to make new discoveries and change medicinal administration forever. We would be able to optimize all resources and remove waste completely; manual errors in computations and algorithms would cease to exist; and moreover, we might be able to decode the occurrence of nature and its phenomenon, since nature itself runs on the properties of subatomic particles.
Why Computer-Makers Ventured Into Quantum Computing?
Well, one reason could be the race of establishing monopoly and dominate the technology of the world. In the tech-dependent society that we live in, we have already given a lot of personal information about ourselves to the topnotch technological corporations and state-funded tech projects. The one who runs such a technology practically dominates the world. Quantum computing is the next big thing amongst future technologies after Artificial Intelligence. The corporation which would offer best quantum analysis and computing would have access to all sorts of corporate, government, and personal data in regard to various fields of work. Anyone who owns that information would have the power to make best decisions for itself and would always remain on top no matter what.
Other can be to make money. Not every corporation offers quantum computing services for commercial and enterprise usage, and less than a handful of them have reached a stage where they can actually perform experimental quantum computing. So, if one can develop such a project, is sure to welcome investors and other people with money. Another reason can be research into parallelism and breaching the limits of outer space. Seems like a vision of some mad scientist but if qubits and theories of quantum mechanics, in theory, may have the possibility to learn and solve the concepts of outer space still unknown to space researchers and to the rest of the world.
Motives can be endless, but victory in this regard is not a game and every player trying to solve quantum computing needs to be very specific about what it wants from this research and technological accomplishment.
IBM and Its Research Into Quantum Computing
IBM’s first venture into quantum computing was back in 2016 when it launched IBM Initiative Q, an industry level initiative aimed at improving computational analysis capabilities of different corporations in the field of business and science. IBM Q was started with the aim of achieving resource optimization by error free diagnosis and analysis and set new benchmarks for machine learning. The initiative focused on improving financial decisions and upgrade risk management techniques at enterprise levels. It soon transformed itself into an active quantum computing service provider branch of IBM, allowing access of its network to enterprises over the cloud. Driven towards changing the way business happens today, IBM Q actively supports various organizations and educational institutions that promote quantum computing and is now a major advocate of machine learning and computational analysis in the world.
IBM Q System One: IBM’s Powerful Entry Into Quantum Computing Business
In January 2019, IBM first announced that its new IBM Q System One would be soon available for computational uses for enterprises and it was finally unveiled this month, attracting various technology researchers and experts in quantum mechanics. System One is a massive upgrade to the original Q, which offered services of analysis up to 5 qubits of information. The new System One would be capable of offering analysis services up to 20 qubits. In simple math, it would be able to compute five times more complex problems than its predecessors. The latest player in quantum computing has already got corporations like CERN and Fermilab as potential clients who have signed up to use its services over the cloud. The newly engineered system is capable of resetting at a faster rate than its predecessor and if its cryostat is properly maintained, it can offer quite feasible solutions to enterprise problems.
Is IBM Q System One a Giant Leap in Quantum Computing?
While launching it, IBM claimed System One to be the “world’s first fully-integrated” quantum computer, that may change the course of the financial economy and scientific analysis in the near future. IBM claims that System One may open doors of research that would lead to all sorts of scientific discovery and achieve high targets of resource optimization and enterprise planning. However, that statement would require a lot of discussions before we could reach a final judgement over the capabilities of IBM’s latest invention. Quantum computing depends on the laws of quantum mechanics and quantum entanglement. These laws have never been proved in experiment truly, even after extensive research from men of science like Einstein and Schrodinger. Various theories still disregard a lot of concepts of quantum mechanics and therefore, IBM couldn’t possibly solve all of it with System One. Secondly, while IBM claims it would change the course of commercial computational analysis with this one, it’s simply too complex to achieve that. Quantum computers have only produced experimental results as of yet, and System One would be doing the same. Whether their implementation in real-life industrial situations is really feasible or not is a matter of long analysis and theorization.
What we can say about System One is that it surely would be a benchmark in the field of research for quantum computing, and its experimental results would open new ideas for discovering new capabilities of quantum computing itself. Rather than being a problem solver, System One is most likely to act as a researcher which would help us further develop tools and techniques of quantum analysis and move ahead to achieve successful resource optimization, risk analysis, and disease diagnosis via quantum computing.
Why IBM Q System One May Not Be the Ultimate Machine?
Because maintaining a machine like that with the technology we preserve today is a matter of utmost delicacy, care, and active monitoring. A quantum computer is required to be kept at freezing temperatures way below -100 degrees Celsius. Why? Because quantum particles are distorted by even the slightest fluctuations and are required to be analyzed in almost a stationary state. Since System One is just launched for commercial use, we don’t know how capable it is of sustaining itself from such distortions. Moreover, IBM is least likely to invest all of it into one experimental quantum machine, meaning, it definitely has other plans with it. Then the next big question is reliability. Without proper testing, even IBM can’t claim it’s a hundred per cent reliable for commercial use. This is the reason the early use of System One is going to be experimental only, without any obligations from IBM to signing corporations in regard to the results’ reliability.
Is Quantum Computing being a Good Step for IBM’s Financial Future?
In an honest opinion, for a company more than 100-years old, financial future would not be the foremost concern before it ventures into something. IBM has developed IBM Q System One not alone but with the help of researchers, architecture experts, and designers from all sorts of international organizations. If it has done that, it surely is aware of what it’s doing and what it needs to do with the potential future of IBM Q System One. IBM knows what quantum computing and commercialization of such services in the future can bring itself. The company has recently failed to attract sales through its trending technological products and services such as mobile technology and web services. In the midst of all this, investing research, knowledge, funds, and future stakes in an experimental technology cannot be a trial and error for IBM. IBM already make millions or rather billions in commercial deals, and quantum computing with a potential of integrated artificial-intelligence can change the course for IBM’s profit-making tactics.
Is There Any Risk Associated?
When one tackle with such powered technology, there are consequences that should be considered. As already discussed, a successful transition from experimental to implementable quantum computing would give a monopoly to IBM over other corporations and would put it in the inner circle of large enterprises and maybe our personal lives. Moreover, in case of AI-integration, subjecting such large amounts of data to a self-learning and self-analyzing machine is not only a risk but a matter of probable danger. Also, quantum computing can be capable of breaching cryptography techniques, which can be used to stop cyber-attacks and provide secure communications. But, if reversely used, it can be used to breach encrypted files of government bodies and corporate research. So, if IBM succeeds, we never know what we lose in the pretense of achieving scientific and enterprise accomplishments.
It’s too early to say what IBM can possibly do with Q System One, but one must keep in mind what consequences such technological power can bring along with success and advancements. Moreover, it would take some more time to completely let go off the use of classic computers for computational analysis as not every enterprise can opt for quantum computing services. For now, IBM may become first corporation to sustain a profitable quantum computing business. Will the experiments of Q System One open new doors of productivity or will bring risks of ultimate explosion of machine intelligence and technology?