Taking Initiative

While many developers focus on increasing the intelligence of artificially intelligent (AI) algorithms, IBM is eyeing a different area of technology: quantum computing.


Quantum computers are going to be game changers, bringing with them faster data processing and information handling. This increase in speed is made possible through the use of quantum bits (or qubits) instead of the binary bits that current computers employ. Qubits rely on the quantum phenomenon of superposition, which allows them to be 0s or 1s at the same time. This ability to exist in multiple states at once enables qubits to process information more quickly.

IBM has been working on quantum computing technologies for some time now. Last May, the company gave the public access to its 5-qubit quantum computer. These computers, located in their New York labs, were available as a cloud service. More recently still, IBM's 5-qubit quantum computer competed against another quantum computer and proved to be the faster of the two devices (though qubit sustainability was a bit of an issue).

Now, IBM is pushing for the development of a truly universal quantum computer, and to that end, it has launched IBM Q, "an industry-first initiative to build commercially available universal quantum computers for business and science."

A Neat Trick and More

Through IBM Q, the company hopes to improve its current quantum computing models by enlisting the help of others interested in the field. IBM is updating its quantum computing cloud service with a new application program interface (API) designed to give developers and programmers who don't have a background in quantum physics the ability to create interfaces between IBM's cloud-based quantum computer and traditional computers.

The computing industry giant hopes that these updates will encourage researchers and other interested parties to use their experimental quantum computing system to build more sophisticated applications. "While technologies like AI can find patterns buried in vast amounts of existing data, quantum computers will deliver solutions to important problems where patterns cannot be seen and the number of possibilities that you need to explore to get to the answer are too enormous ever to be processed by classical computers," IBM explained.

IBM's goal is to build quantum systems with roughly 50 qubits in the next few years. Once we have those, we'll be able to truly begin to harness the power of quantum computing, and the applications are endless. Everything from medicine and finance to cloud security and even the modern technological era's golden child of AI will be faster and more advanced.

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