Canada’s D-Wave, the world’s first commercial quantum computing company, has been taking significant steps towards a super-speed computing future, with only a humble staff of 140 employees.
PC World reports that D-Wave developed its first quantum computer in 2011. Since then, it has been sold to a multitude of organizations such as Lockheed Martin and NASA. According to Tech Republic, D-Wave has accumulated millions of dollars in investment from a variety of groups, such as Goldman Sachs and the American C.I.A.
A D-Wave quantum computer costs more than $15 million, reported The Guardian. The D-Wave website brands its centerpiece product as “the most advanced quantum computer in the world.”
The computer uses more modern theoretical physics discoveries and “taps directly into the fundamental fabric of reality.” It is importantly related to the concept of quantum superposition – the ability of a particle to exist in multiple different states at the same time – and the ability of quantum measurements to reflect multiple combinations of classical physics measurements simultaneously.
Sound a bit strange? Allow Prime Minister Trudeau to explain!
As Prime Minister Trudeau explained, instead of recording information in binary form (a 1 or a 0), a quantum computer can record multiple possibilities in “qubits” – which can be 1 or 0 or a combination of the two values. The calculation of these values happens simultaneously and produces tens of thousands of answers in seconds.
A D-Wave quantum computer contains over a thousand qubits, and the amount of information storage capability is increasing exponentially.
A quantum computer can only complete calculations in a strictly controlled environment – namely, very cold and pressurized. The hardware uses niobium transistors that are cooled to absolute zero (400x colder than outer space) through the use of liquid helium. Too much heat or even just light can inhibit the calculations.
According to senior vice president at D-Wave, Jeremy Hilton, within two to three years D-Wave will have developed an even larger quantum computer. Unfortunately, this is not the same as a standard computer operation, and quantum computing will need to be universalized to be ready for personal use.
D-Wave has been doubling the amount of qubits in its quantum computers approximately once a year, noted D-Wave director of business development and strategic partnerships, Colin Williams.
John Morton, professor of nanoelectronics and nanophotonics at UCL has said the first universal quantum computers won’t be available for at least a decade. What will the future hold for an ordinary household when such astronomical computing power finally becomes readily available?
According to Bloomberg, quantum computing could push the frontiers of machine learning and artificial intelligence to new heights. Quantum computing could also yield great improvements in the fields of cybersecurity, logistics, and even oncological cancer research.
The unpredictable effects of unsupervised, speedy machine-learning are hard to determine, as the calculations and data compilations surpass human levels. The computing speed would become infinitely faster, and the boundaries of calculation are difficult to understand.
For tech geeks this may just be a faster FPS for online gaming, but for others this could mean protection from, or the possible prevention of, terrorist attacks or an infrastructural systems breach by hackers.