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Quantum computing taps nucleus of single atom

This article was first published on 20 April 2013.

I’ve posted this article from the University of New South Wales because it’s a timely reminder that anyone interested in potential sources of technological disruption needs to be keeping an eye of developments in the world of quantum computing.

Quantum computing is important for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, it has the potential to offer computers that are billions of times more powerful (in terms of both volume and speed) than the very fastest of computers available today.  That massive leap in processing power suddenly enables a whole new class of computing problem to be solved and it enables problems that may take weeks and months to solve with current computers to potentially be solved almost immediately.  Applications include things like decryption and encryption, weather analysis and forecasting, protein folding, complex simulations and advanced artificial intelligence.

The second reason quantum computing is important is that it offers a path for continued improvement in processing capability beyond the limits generally thought to exist with conventional silicon chips.  The upshot is that, in a world of quantum computing, Moore’s Law and the exponential change it brings, continues to apply way into the future.

The point is this.  While there is still a long way to go to prove that the theory of quantum computing can actually be put into practice, the reality is that every day, in universities and research labs around the world, real progress toward quantum computing continues to be made and momentum continues to build.  For example, six months ago this very same team at UNSW announced what was at that point a major milestone in the development of quantum computing.  Yet here today the same team is announcing progress that crosses thresholds way beyond what was achieved just six months ago.

While there are few things of which you can be absolutely certain, the probability that we’ll see quantum computers in the next five to ten years is high enough that anyone serious about corporate strategy or the future of their organisation needs to familiarise themselves with the disruptive potential of this technology and what it might mean for their business and industry.

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