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The Business Transformers



06 March 2020

Quantum computers are still science fiction. But quantum computing power as a service from the cloud could be available as early as 2022. Read how you should prepare your business for both disruptive and transformative technology.

Pharmaceutical companies have an enormous interest in enzymes. These proteins catalyse all kinds of biochemical interactions, often by specifically influencing a single type of molecule. Unfortunately, we do not know the exact molecular structure of most enzymes. In principle, chemists could use computers to model these molecules to understand their function.

What quantum computers can do

Basically, quantum computers have four basic capabilities that distinguish them from today's computers:

  • Quantum simulation, in which quantum computers model complex molecules
  • Optimization (i.e. solving multivariable problems with unprecedented speed)
  • Quantum artificial intelligence (AI) with better algorithms, which could take machine learning to a new level
  • Prime factorization that could revolutionize encryption

But this is still all science fiction because the quantum computers developed so far can only display a few dozen qubits - a combination of zeros and ones and, in simple terms, the counterpart to the bits of today's computers - at the same time. And to develop a powerful quantum computer, hundreds of thousands or millions of qubits would have to be coherently linked together. 

The potential of Quantum Computing

The best way to understand the business potential of quantum computing is to look at the potential use cases. There is a high potential in four areas:

1. Shortening the development time for chemicals and pharmaceuticals through simulation

Scientists who want to develop new drugs and substances often need to study the exact structure of a molecule to determine its properties and understand how it might interact with other molecules. Quantum computers are inherently well suited to this task since the interaction of atoms within a molecule is itself a quantum system. Experts believe that quantum computers will be able to model even the most complex molecules in our bodies. Any progress in this direction will accelerate the development of new drugs and other products and possibly lead to new transformative cures.

2. Solve optimization problems with unprecedented speed

Every industry has many complex business problems that are linked to a multitude of variables. Where should the robot be located on the factory floor? What is the shortest route for a van? How can cars, motorcycles and scooters be used most efficiently to create a transportation network that meets user demand? How can the performance and risk of a financial portfolio be optimized?

The solution to these problems with the help of classical computer science is a laborious process. To isolate the inputs that cause performance gains or losses, the number of variables that can be shifted in each calculation must be limited. As a result, companies must perform one complicated calculation after another, which is a costly and time-consuming process given a large number of variables.

However, since quantum computers work with several variables simultaneously, they can be used first to dramatically limit the range of possible responses in a very short time. Classical computation can then rely on a single precise answer, and its work will still appear slow compared to that of quantum computers. But since quantum technology has eliminated so many possibilities, this hybrid approach will dramatically reduce the time needed to find the best solution.

3. Faster to autonomous vehicles with quantum AI

It is possible that quantum computers will accelerate the development of self-propelled ones Fahrzeugen. At Ford, GM, Volkswagen and other car manufacturers, as well as at a large number of start-ups in the field of new mobility, engineers work for hours with video, image and lidar data in complex neural networks. Their goal: using AI to teach a car to make important driving decisions - i.e. how to turn, where to accelerate, how to avoid other vehicles, etc.

Training an AI algorithm in this way requires a series of computationally intensive calculations that become increasingly difficult as more data and more complex relationships are added within the variable. Since quantum computers are capable of performing several complex calculations with several variables simultaneously, they could exponentially accelerate the training of such AI systems.

4. Transformation of cybersecurity

Quantum computers represent a serious threat Bedrohung to cybersecurity systems. Most of today's online account passwords, as well as secure transactions and communications, are protected by encryption algorithms such as RSA or SSL/TLS. Breaking through this encryption in a reasonable amount of time requires massive processing power that today's computers virtually do not have. Since quantum computers can perform multiple calculations simultaneously, they have the potential to break any traditional encryption system.

In fact, a quantum algorithm already exists that can do just that - the Shor algorithm. Fortunately, there is no quantum computer yet that can manage the hundreds of thousands to millions of qubits that would be required to run the Shor algorithm. But that could change in ten to 20 years, and then new quantum encryption technologies would be needed to protect online services, etc.


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