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Quantum leap

There have been some breakthroughs in the past couple of years regarding the development of a computer that can start to harness the power of quantum technology, promising vastly superior processing power and potential step changes in the fields of advanced cryptography, complex modeling, and advanced artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms. At LEAP 2022, the spotlight will be on quantum technology and its emerging use cases in healthcare, communications and cryptography.

22 JANUARY 2021

While we regularly hear about artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and blockchain, quantum technology has received less public fanfare lately, despite the tech’s potential to revolutionize computing as we know it.

The idea behind modern quantum technology has its roots in the work of renowned physicists Paul Benioff, Yuri Manin, Richard Feynman and David Deutsch. This was advanced by Australian theoretical quantum physicist Gerard J. Milburn, who suggested that by harnessing the properties of quantum mechanics, technologies such as cryptography, imaging and computing could be radically improved.

Quantum computers have capabilities millions of times over what even the most powerful computers can do today. With abilities to solve problems not possible with existing technology, it comes as no surprise that Quantum Computing technology is high on the agenda at LEAP whose stated mission is to “unlock the human potential and accelerate new ways of thinking, innovating and working”.

Slated for February 2022, LEAP is one of the most exciting and promising ICT events in the world this year. There will be dedicated exhibition areas at LEAP for Quantum computing and Quantum encryption. An initiative of the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) in collaboration with global events organizer Informa Tech, LEAP 2022 will be a showcase of technologies across AI, Blockchain and Cryptocurrency, Robotics, 3D Printing, IoT, Biotech and Healthtech, Smart Mobility, Open Source, Quantum Computing, 5G, Materials Science, Space and Satellites, Data and Fintech.

“Given the strong line-up of technologies that will be exhibited, LEAP will also feature a stellar keynote lineup of 600 tech leaders, futurists and statesmen from across the world as part of Orbital Talks series happening alongside the conference agenda,” says Eng. Nawaf Alhoshan, Deputy Minister for Technology Development, Saudi Arabia Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.

Eng. Alhoshan says Saudi Arabia has slowly been warming up to the promise of quantum technology and the potential to solve vital tasks and computational challenges across various industry verticals.

Use cases

As a field of science, quantum mechanics could transform the healthcare sector, including in radiotherapy and imaging. For example, with quantum sensors, MRI machines used in radiography can be improved to gather ultra‑precise measurements. This means that the MRI will have the capabilities to look at single molecules or grouped molecules.

On the communication front, quantum communication devices could be a way to transmit medical records, defense data or secure government records without worrying they would fall into the wrong hands. Now, this is critical in today’s computing world, where the slightest human error can have huge consequences in terms of cyber threats.

Quantum technology will also have a major application in cryptography. Quantum computers can more effectively devise secure cryptographic protocols such as generating truly random numbers.

Another potential application for quantum computing is AI, where experts foresee the vast number-crunching capabilities to inevitably power superior AI.

The next frontier

Quantum computers rely on highly complex technology, with potential seen by many as world-altering. Working on these issues are several IT giants and a bunch of nimble start-ups looking to lead the way into the world of quantum. Some of the most notable ones include IBM, Rigetti, Insights, D-Wave, IonQ and Google.

Currently, IBM is leading the charge, with the unveiling of the world’s first commercial quantum computer, IBM Q System One, in January 2019.

IBM Q System One is the first capable of operating outside of the research lab, designed to one day tackle problems that are currently seen as too complex and exponential for classical systems to handle. Future applications of quantum computing may include finding new ways to model financial data and isolating key global risk factors to make better investments, or finding the optimal path for more efficient logistics and optimizing fleet operations for deliveries.

“About two years ago we had a project to begin looking at how we will get a commercial quality system,” says Bob Wisnieff, Chief Technology Officer at IBM Q. “As we began to look at that problem, we realized that there is an awful lot of systems engineering potential within quantum computing – to begin to optimize not only each of the subsystems, at a subsystem level, but to look at the synergistic optimization between all of the subsystems, to try to get to the overall best performance for the system.

Although quantum computing is unlikely to supplant conventional computing any time soon, the ability to solve different kinds of algorithms could lead to advances in solving problems that have evaded even the world’s top supercomputers – such as unlocking the mysteries of the human genome, shedding further light on the structure of the universe, or even human consciousness.

Quantum computing is very much at a primordial stage right now, the resources IBM and other technology vendors are investing in quantum computing is wholly strategic. The world will be much better for it.