Harnessing quantum physics to make computers faster, smarter and more capable for businesses and our future, writes Brian Timperley, the CEO and co-founder of Turrito Networks.

IBM defines quantum computing as solving complex problems, usually too difficult for today’s standard computer, using the laws of quantum mechanics. For a long time, quantum computing has sat in the realm of science fiction or (at very least) expensive scientific research and theory.

Scientists, engineers and mathematicians have long postulated the potential of a computer that can use probability to make calculations.

As the Harvard Business Review points out, it can change the world and solve incredibly complex equations and problems. It can also be used to change how solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and machine learning (ML) will evolve across the enterprise and the planet.

However, it is not yet at a commercially accessible or viable stage, even with recent advancements in technology and progress in quantum compute application. Recently, an Australian company called Silicon Quantum Computing managed to create a ‘coherent quantum simulator’ which is considered a significant step in the right direction, but what exactly is this direction and why is it so important?

So to explain, quantum physics is a description of the smallest things in our universe. The rules of the universe … sub-atomic particles. Normal computers today operate on combinations of zero’s and ones, they are binary. Quantum computers have an endless range of options between zero and one, in other words, they operate along a spectrum of options, called qubits. They can even use combinations of these options at the same time, resulting in infinitely faster compute across infinitely higher complexity.

The first thing quantum computing brings to the digital table is speed, insane speed. Quantum compute is incredibly fast and can process litres of data in minutes, even seconds. Using protons and electrons and photons to compute, this level of processing is far beyond what our humble PC of today can fathom. Perhaps the best analogy would be comparing the horse-drawn cart to a Ferrari – they both have the same goal, but their design and structure is vastly different. You can’t build a Ferrari by continuously improving the design of a horse-drawn cart.

While quantum compute in business is not quite at the point of early adoption, the benefits it brings are very clear. In addition to speeding up the organisation’s ability to process and manage its data, it can help businesses build richer insights and explore new markets and opportunities. It can also help the business optimise its encryption frameworks, build new products, dive far deeper into data across centuries, forecast markets, undertake complex research, and build better algorithms that would build better applications and solutions.

There are so many potential outcomes within quantum computing that it’s highly likely our brightest minds cannot predict a fraction of what it can do. The problem now is that it’s too early to start talking about any business strategy that will broadly use quantum computing in the near future, unless that business is elbows deep in medical or scientific research of course. Now those are two sectors that will not just relish the breadths and depths to which quantum can go, but dive in early to explore this.

What is important to note; this is not hype! This isn’t a flash in the pan technology that will quietly slip off stage left in a huff of embarrassment when everyone realises it has little to offer. Quite the opposite. Quantum’s impact is likely to be nothing short of extraordinary, with real-world solutions emerging over the next few decades.

It will be a significant departure from what compute can do today. After all, in 2019, Google claimed that its quantum computer solved a problem that would have taken the world’s fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to complete. That’s 3-million times faster than what a supercomputer is capable of today.

Another consideration is its complexity. Yes, building a working quantum computer that can do what quantum promises to do is hard, but using one does not require people to suddenly learn quantum mechanics. Unlike the traditional PC that expects its user to have a modicum of troubleshooting expertise, quantum will be far easier on the surface, far more complex behind the scenes, and maintained by people who intrinsically understand the concept and the technology.

It will be much like today’s F1 racing cars – you don’t have to be an engineer or mechanic to drive the vehicle to its limits around a track. One immediate benefit to its speed and potential with complexity, would be Quantum’s ability to create impenetrable encryption for security purposes. In direct contrast to this benefit, Quantum’s ability to decrypt every piece of encryption the world deploys today, in mere seconds. Like many technologies, it’s just as powerful on both sides of the coin.

Moving forward into a quantum future remains a bit of guesswork. Yes, there is incredible potential, yes businesses will ultimately benefit, but we’re not yet sure when this will happen or the full ramifications of this technology. What we do know is that it’s going to pivot technology on mass, and that this tech and its compute will almost certainly change the world.

Take heart if quantum compute still seems a mystery to you… most quantum scientists will tell you that if you are confused by quantum, that just means that you are starting to understand it.