Pros and Cons of Quantum Computing: Worth the Risks?

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What is a quantum computer? What can quantum computers do that normal computers can’t? Why are quantum computers potentially dangerous?

In November 2022, IBM unveiled its 433 qubit powerful Osprey processor, marking a significant step toward revolutionary quantum computing systems. Quantum computing promises to solve problems currently deemed insurmountable by classical computing. But it could also threaten existing encryption systems and exacerbate digital divides.

Keep reading to learn about the pros and cons of quantum computing.

Image source: Flickr

While AI stole the headlines, IBM unveiled a quantum computer processor last year that’s exponentially more powerful than ever. Harnessing the mechanics of quantum physics, this technological feat cracks open a portal to unprecedented problem-solving power, enabling humanity to solve problems for which solutions were previously inconceivable and reshape the course of scientific progress. But there are both pros and cons of quantum computing.

What Is Quantum Computing?

Quantum computing utilizes the principles of quantum mechanics to perform complex calculations. Unlike classical computers that process binary bits, quantum computers leverage quantum bits—called “qubits”—which can exist in multiple states at once, a phenomenon known as “superposition.” This allows quantum computers to process far larger amounts of information simultaneously, outstripping the capabilities of classical supercomputers.

One researcher compares the quantum computer to a mouse in a maze that’s capable of simultaneously examining every possible route, rather than having to work through each route one after the next, like a classical computer. Thus, quantum computers have the potential to accomplish in mere seconds tasks that could take traditionally powered computers centuries.

IBM’s Leap Forward

In a significant breakthrough in November 2022, IBM unveiled its Osprey processor, a 433 qubit powerhouse that propels quantum computation to new heights. Tripling the strength of its 127 qubit predecessor, this game-changing processor not only scales up qubit quantities without a substantial error increase, but also pioneers a novel quantum computing approach.

However, with every new leap in technology, there are pros and cons of quantum computers.

The Pros and Potential of Quantum Computing

Quantum computing has the potential to enable breakthroughs in a variety of sectors, fundamentally altering how people handle data and solve problems. For example, it could:

Potential Cons and Risks of Quantum Computing

However, experts say that quantum computers also introduce significant risks. 

One key concern is that they could crack existing encryption systems that guard the internet, databases, communications, and sensitive financial and health data. This could heighten the risk of data breaches, threaten the security of digital assets, and undermine the cryptographic foundations that protect cryptocurrencies.

They could also exacerbate digital disparities, as only individuals able to afford the immense cost of accessing and implementing the technology will reap its benefits, further marginalizing those with fewer resources. 

Overcoming the Hurdles

Despite the significant strides in quantum computing, several key hurdles remain, including:  

  • Achieving stable coherence—that is, dramatically increasing qubit numbers while preserving their delicate quantum state and curbing error rates. Qubits, notorious for high error rates, require extremely low temperatures (near absolute zero) for optimal performance. A failure in coherence can render the computer’s output worthless.
  • Developing advanced error-correcting codes that can identify and fix mistakes without disturbing qubits’ quantum state—which is crucial to achieving consistent and precise results from quantum computers despite possible errors.
  • Integrating current software with quantum systems to unlock unprecedented computational power. Given quantum computers’ evolving nature, software may eventually become outdated as it fails to ‘speak’ the advancing language of quantum computers.

Looking Ahead

Some experts argue that quantum computing’s future rests more on small, steady improvements than on revolutionary leaps. Once these pieces fall into place, success lies in effectively integrating them to construct increasingly larger systems—which could happen as soon as 2030.

In the longer term, fully operational quantum computers—those capable of functioning properly even when errors occur—could revolutionize numerous fields of study, modeling complex natural phenomena and solving currently insurmountable problems. The implications of these advancements could initiate the next wave of technological disruption and transform the world as we know it.

Pros and Cons of Quantum Computing: Worth the Risks?

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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