Exactly How Many Quantum Computers Are There?

Published by whurley (10/03/2017)

Thirty Years of Progress has Us on the Brink of a Quantum Computing Breakthrough

Quantum computing will soon take us beyond what we once believed to be possible. But it still feels abstract to most consumers. People still have basic questions, like, “What’s different about a quantum computer? How many quantum computers are there? What is a quantum computer going to do for me?”

Based on deep and forward-thinking discussions starting in the early 1980s, it became clear that if we wanted to simulate  the complexities of nature (e.g., quantum mechanics), we needed to build a quantum computer. We have made incredible progress since then, and in the near future we will reach historic milestones. With everyone from IBM to Google involved, a quantum breakthrough is just around the bend. It will change the Internet, and the world as we know it.

HOW MANY QUANTUM COMPUTERS ARE THERE TODAY?

Currently, a true large-scale quantum computer does not exist. It’s not yet a reality in terms of its anticipated and potential use.

That’s zero, for you BLUFers.

That being said, large companies do already have access to quantum technology. For example, NASA is using D-Wave’s 2000Q for robotics missions in space. And judging from the rush to sell quantum computing’s future, companies don’t seem to be concerned by the current lack of a functional machine. In early July, 2017, Google announced its quantum computing services will soon be available, as it plans on offering access to quantum processors via the cloud.

Focusing more on the framework, the companies investing money in the space hope to be prepared to evolve with the technology.

WHO WILL USE QUANTUM COMPUTERS?

In other words, where will the demand come from? A robust quantum system will have many applications and alter many industries as we currently know them. Scientists and researchers, universities, large companies, financial traders. Who won’t be using quantum computers?

A quantum computer would give us the means to model nature in ways we’ve never been able to before. This could help researchers accelerate molecular research, execute previously out-of-reach experiments, and as a result, discover new drugs and treatment protocols. A quantum computer would make it practical to analyze extremely large amounts of data. Volkswagen, for example, will be using the technology to predict traffic patterns in busy, congested cities like Beijing. It would essentially revolutionize artificial intelligence with speed and processing power. Google claims its quantum computer will be “100 million times faster than any system available today.”

These examples show the versatility of these systems, and what we can expect in the coming years. When the day comes that this technology is truly at our fingertips on a global scale, who knows what applications we’ll discover? Perhaps we’ve yet to conceive of the most important uses for the technology; that’s what’s so exciting about the evolution of quantum computing.

So how many quantum computers are there?  Ask me again in three to five years.