Quantum computers: how they work and what impact they have on the digital economy


Jun 23, 2017 10:53 AM Note: In this article, we used commission links and marked them with “* “. If an order is placed via these links, t3n.de receives a commission. Quantum computers could make a huge leap in computer technology. But how do they work and what can they be used for? The 16th Future Congress of the Leipzig think tank 2B Ahead was also traditionally dedicated to a future technology. This year’s event was themed “Think Quantum – The Prediction of Everything” and focused on the challenges and opportunities of quantum computers. But what is the difference between quantum computers and conventional computers? And what impact could they have on business models in the future? These were the central questions of the event. How different quantum computers work If you want to understand the world of quantum computers, you have to rethink them completely. Conventional computers calculate in the so-called Boolean logic of “0” and “1” – either a bit has the state “0” or even “1”. Computers have been using this logic since the early days of modern computing machines – even today. Quantum computers operate completely differently. They are based on so-called qubits (quantum bits), which can also have two states at the same time – such as “0” and “1”. Simple illustrative example: Imagine that you want to drive out of a parking space with your car, not only bumping against the front car, but also against the rear one at the same time. The logic behind it comes from quantum physics and is not that new – but to turn it into a working machine has long been a big challenge. Even today, the stability of the system is a problem, because the higher the number of interconnected qubits, the higher the error rate. Another limiting factor is that scaling the qubits does not simply provide more computing power. The idea of ​​using quantum computers for every conceivable problem is a fallacy. They are ideal for calculating chemical and physical problems – for example, to make solar cells more effective. “Why does a tree work at 70 percent efficiency in photosynthesis, but only 30 percent in solar cells?” Asked Alan Ho of Google’s Quantum AI Lab at the Future Congress. In addition, engineers must adapt algorithms specifically to the conditions of quantum computers. Well-known machine-learning algorithms run one-to-one on quantum computers does not work. Nevertheless, today almost all major tech companies are working on quantum computers because they promise a tremendous performance boost over traditional computers. Practical applications? Predicting Everything But what about the computing power of a quantum computer? A very graphic example was presented by Martin Hoffmann, CIO of Volkswagen. The VW engineers want to avoid traffic jams with the help of quantum computers. A pilot project combines traditional machine learning algorithms on GPU server farms with a powerful quantum computer. Without quantum computing, it would be possible to calculate where in real-time increased traffic is to be expected, which Google Maps can already show today – but only with the power of a quantum computer, according to Hoffmann, it seems possible to calculate for each individual car in real time when It should be better left or right to prevent the occurrence of a traffic jam in advance. Stephan Brobst of Teradata explained how business models could change in the future when more powerful resources are available for data analysis. (Photo: Luca Caracciolo) The raw material for such granular predictions is data – the more, the better. This is nothing new at first, but if significantly more powerful computers are available to evaluate this data, then it could, according to the ideas of quantum computer engineers to cause “patterns” in the data can be read much better. For example, if a restaurant knows in advance how many guests are expected to arrive on a Tuesday night in June, then it could adjust its purchases accordingly, resulting in significantly fewer items to be disposed of. Stephen Brobst, CTO of Big Data company Teradata, illustrated the potential impact of more powerful data analysis technologies – not just quantum computers – on the Bluetooth toothbrush. If a networked toothbrush can evaluate a variety of dental care data and provide the customer with accurate information about which teeth he or she may need to brush better, or when they need to check with the dentist – “What is the actual product? The toothbrush or the service behind it? “Says Brobst. And what about privacy? A major issue in the whole debate on data analysis and the resulting new business models is data protection – this was little talked about at the Future Congress, it was the speakers and experts mainly to sensitize attendees to the topic in a technical perspective. But if one day the use of quantum computers increases and …

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