The challenges introduced by Google's quantum computing processor
Google has published its paper in the journal Nature, saying that it has achieved “quantum supremacy” with its 54-qubit processor, named “Sycamore”. They claimed this citing their experiment “performed a computation in 200 seconds [3 minutes 20 seconds] that would take the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years.”
IBM, another leading tech firm in the quantum space, argued in a blog post, saying “an ideal simulation of the same task can be performed on a classical system in 2.5 days and with far greater fidelity. This is in fact a conservative, worst-case estimate, and we expect that with additional refinements the classical cost of the simulation can be further reduced.”
Google’s claims, like most researches, has received mixed reviews. While some call this a feat accomplished in the sector that shows a quantum computer is indeed a possibility; others refute the claim saying a quantum computing by definition is one that cannot be accomplished by classical computers, including supercomputers.
The power of quantum computing is beyond what we use today. Its power to decrypt data and make calculations put even the most advanced computers to shame.
However, while this level of computing has immense potential to advance artificial intelligence and its computing power, along with its applications in healthcare, education and other sectors, also means that it could have devastating impacts on the current global systems if used incorrectly.
For example, emails, WhatsApp messages, banking platforms, financial transactions, healthcare information, and almost all other data in the world is encrypted using a series of 0s and 1s. The decrypt these is very difficult without the encryption key — exactly what keeps these safe.
But quantum computing could, through its power, use brute force attack to decrypt the data. In the wrong hands, it could have far reaching consequences, including national security. This is why the US and China are making quantum computing a national security priority.
Reports suggest that China has filed double the number of quantum patents in the past few years compared to the US. Moreover, China has been reported to be spending $400 million on a national quantum lab. This year the US promised to spend $1.2 billion on quantum research and computers.
The tech giants vying for the leading position in quantum computing include Microsoft, IBM, Intel, and of course, Google. Their tech geniuses know the potential of quantum computing.
And even though it is still in its nascency, venture capitalists are not shy of investing in the technology. Startups in the space have attracted more than $450 million in capital.
In the UAE, the government is investing in the technology that could see its AI ambitions being realised. In fact, Khalifa University also has a Quantum Computing Research Group (QCRG) for the practical development of quantum computers and their innovative technological applications.
While quantum computing and its potential are exciting, it is necessary for governments to know how they can control quantum computing and regulate its proliferation in the market; so that the transition between traditional and quantum computers are smoothe, and its cybersecurity threat is managed properly.