Mind-F**k Friday – “Quantum Computing”

Computers as we know them today, ones that use processors, were being developed and slowly enhanced since the early 1900’s. Slowly, companies started commercializing machines, including the IBM’s first accounting systems, which were all punch-card based. All they could do was add, subtract, and print the results. From the ’30s to the late ’50s, this was by and large how computers were used. It was a means of doing work, but it never replaced workers. These computers were the size of rooms and required multiple workers to use the machine correctly and efficiently. Nowadays, all of that (and a little bit more), is in our pocket.


So what’s next after what we use today (machines driven by processors and how powerful they are)? The next level is “quantum computing”. I would recommend Googling it because it’s mind-blowing and hard to explain in a few paragraphs. So I’ll keep the explanation short to give some background, but will focus on how game-changing it will be.

Today, computers think in binary, either 1’s or 0’s (think of the Matrix). What a quantum computer can do is think  in 1’s, 0’s, or 1’s AND 0’s at any length. So instead of making one decision at a time (1 or 0), it can make potentially millions at a time. Making computers a million times faster than they are today. Kind of a mind-fuck, huh? To continue, in today’s computers, processors (think Intel) create the 1’s and 0’s via electrical impulse (think motherboards, wires, etc.). Quantum computing will send impulses through particles in the air.

Now, just like the computer that we know today took a good 50 years to develop, the quantum computer will take the same amount of time to get to the consumer. But businesses are doing initial testing (particularly Google). What they’re using it for today is machine-learning. For example, Google is trying to build a self-driving car; within in this car are programs that need to be taught the rules of the road, what a red-light looks like, etc. etc. For a computer program to get the answer correct 100% of the time takes a lot of computing power to identify unique situations, environments, etc. A quantum computer could figure it out in seconds, then Google can put that more accurate algorithm/program in your self-driving car’s arsenal.

P.S. – A company producing these today are D-Wave Systems if you’re interested.


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