Science fiction writers and filmmakers have often depicted a futuristic world where machines have grown intelligent enough to deduce that humanity is good for either enslavement or extermination. But there are scientists out there who are convinced that machines can be used for good.
Researchers around the world are working on a computer that will be more powerful than anything we could have ever imagined a couple of decades ago. This new machine would be able to solve any math problem and crack any code in a matter of moments by utilizing functions drawn from quantum physics.
“A quantum computer could calculate in seconds what a supercomputer – even the fastest on Earth – would take years to,” said Colin Stuart, author of The Big Questions in Science. “The strangest thing is that it’s quite possible that one of the reasons they’re so fast is that they’re doing the calculations in multiple universes.”
Laws of quantum physics states that on a subatomic level, particles can be in more than one place at a time, a phenomenon Einstein described as “spooky”. This means that computers in the future could think in zeroes, ones and “maybes”.
“A normal computer works by having transistors that turn on or off. In transistors – which we still use – it can be either zero or one. All we have done for decades is make them smaller and smaller and smaller. But we’re hitting a wall where we can’t make them smaller – we already have chips with six million transistors in the size of a full stop,” Stuart said.
Today’s computers work with binary numbers, what we normally call the ones and zeros. It’s also commonly known as the smallest single “bit” of information. Tomorrow’s computers would use “qubits,” and because of particles abilities to be in two places at the same time, they could be both one and zero at the same time.
Because of their immense computing powers, machines with quantum technology could be used to create new types of medicines to combat a wide range of illnesses. There are many different chemicals and compounds out there that can be put together in so many different ways.
A quantum computer could sift through all the possibilities much faster than any other computer and come up with specific remedies in a heartbeat.
IBM has already developed components that will work in future quantum machines and the company is convinced that the revolution will happen in our lifetimes.