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Lucy Oleschuk
Level 31

Is Quantum Computing Shaping the Future? History, Challenges, Risks, and Benefits

Published in the Random group
Not so long ago, the limitations of classical computers pushed scientists to develop a new type of computing – quantum computing. Quantum computers use qubits instead of classical bits and can perform certain calculations much faster than classical computers. This advantage can potentially transform numerous spheres and make our life better. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of quantum computing, including industries and fields that could be revolutionized by quantum computing. We will also discuss the challenges and risks associated with this technology, as well as what the future holds for it. Is Quantum Computing Shaping the Future? History, Challenges, Risks, and Benefits - 1

Interior of an IBM Quantum computing system. (Credit: IBM)

What is Quantum Computing?

Computing has come a long way since the quantum theory was developed in the 1920s and the first programmable computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC), was built in 1945. The machine was the first "automatic, general-purpose, electronic, decimal, digital computer," according to Edwin D. Reilly's book "Milestones in Computer Science and Information Technology". What exactly is quantum computing? In brief, it’s a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve complex problems in a more efficient and powerful manner than classical computers. For some problems, supercomputers aren’t that super. At its core, quantum computing relies on the use of quantum bits (qubits) to process and manipulate information. Unlike classical bits, which can only exist in one of two states (0 or 1), qubits can exist in multiple states simultaneously due to the phenomenon of superposition. This allows quantum computers to perform many computations simultaneously. Another key principle of quantum computing is entanglement, which allows qubits to become correlated in such a way that the state of one qubit can instantaneously affect the state of another, even if they are physically separated. This allows quantum computers to perform certain tasks much faster than supercomputers – factoring large numbers, searching through large databases, etc.

How Do Quantum Computers Work?

As just mentioned, quantum computers use qubits instead of bits to run multidimensional quantum algorithms. Qubits are created using superconductors, which exhibit quantum mechanical effects such as Cooper pairs that can carry a charge through insulators via quantum tunneling. The behavior of qubits can be controlled and manipulated by firing microwave photons at them. Qubits can be placed in a state of superposition, representing a combination of all possible configurations of the qubit. Groups of qubits in superposition can create complex computational spaces that can represent complex problems in new ways. Quantum computers are smaller and require less energy than supercomputers but need to be very cold, which is achieved using super-cooled superfluids. Is Quantum Computing Shaping the Future? History, Challenges, Risks, and Benefits - 2

A schematic close-up of IBM’s superconducting qubit, including a zoomed-in view of its Josephson junction

Current State of Quantum Computing

Quantum computing is a rapidly evolving field that is going to revolutionize the way of solving complex problems. Several companies, including IBM, Google, and Rigetti, have already built quantum computers and utilize them. These computers range in size from a few qubits to over 100 qubits, and each has its own unique architecture and set of capabilities.
  • In 2017, Rigetti announced the public beta availability of Forest 1.0, the world’s first full-stack programming environment for quantum computing.
  • Google’s Sycamore is a quantum processor that has 53 qubits. It was developed in 2019 and claimed to complete a task in 200 seconds that would require a high-end supercomputer 10,000 years to finish.
  • IBM Quantum System One quantum computer was introduced by IBM in 2019 as well. It contains a 20-qubit transmon quantum processor that is housed in a 2.7x2.7x2.7 meter computing system. Interestingly enough, IBM announced the new 433-qubit 'Osprey' processor on the IBM Quantum Summit 2022.
"The new 433 qubit 'Osprey' processor brings us a step closer to the point where quantum computers will be used to tackle previously unsolvable problems," – Dr. Darío Gil, Senior Vice President, IBM and Director of Research. In addition to hardware developments, software tools for quantum computing are also advancing. Programming languages such as Q# and Qiskit allow developers to write quantum programs and run them on quantum hardware or simulators. However, quantum computing still faces some challenges and limitations. The major one is error correction. As a quantum program runs, errors quickly accumulate, posing challenges for scientists. So, developing effective error correction methods is crucial for building large-scale, reliable quantum computers. Another significant limitation is scalability. While quantum computers with tens or hundreds of qubits already exist, building a large-scale quantum computer with thousands or millions of qubits is still a challenge. However, there is optimism that these challenges will be overcome in the coming years, paving the way for wider adoption of quantum computing. IBM Quantum systems promise to scale up towards 4,000+ qubits by 2025 and beyond.

How Quantum Computing Is Changing the World? Real-life Applications

That just being said, there are already several use cases in different industries where quantum computing is showing amazing results.


One of the most promising areas is healthcare. Quantum computers can simulate the behavior of molecules and materials more accurately than classical computers, which could accelerate the discovery of new drugs and treatments for diseases. For example, quantum algorithms such as the Variational Quantum Eigensolver (VQE) can be used to calculate the electronic structure of molecules more accurately than classical methods. Plus, quantum computing can be used to analyze large datasets from medical records and clinical trials to identify new targets for drug discovery. Another example of how quantum computing could be used in healthcare is through virtual screening of drug candidates. This involves searching large databases of potential drugs to identify those with the desired properties. Quantum computing is able to accelerate this process by efficiently searching through vast amounts of data, leading to faster drug discovery and development.


Another important application of quantum computing may lie in optimization of problems, such as those encountered in the finance sphere. Quantum computing could be used to improve financial modeling and risk management. For example, quantum algorithms can be utilized to quickly analyze large datasets and make predictions about market trends. In addition, quantum cryptography can be used to secure financial transactions and protect against cyber threat. Quantum key distribution (QKD) is a technique that uses the principles of quantum mechanics to securely transmit encryption keys between two parties. QKD harnesses the power of entangled qubits to create a key that is impossible to intercept without being detected.


Quantum computing can be potentially used to optimize supply chain management, reducing transportation costs and improving delivery times. For instance, quantum algorithms may be used to quickly analyze the most efficient routes for transportation and distribution. Additionally, quantum computing could be used to solve complex scheduling problems, such as those encountered in airline and railway scheduling.


Quantum algorithms may be used to simulate the behavior of materials used in energy storage devices, leading to the development of more efficient batteries. Besides that, quantum computing could be used to optimize energy production by analyzing weather patterns and predicting energy demand.


Since quantum computing is capable of analyzing large datasets and predicting optimal production schedules, it can be of great use in manufacturing as well. As you see, the potential applications of quantum computing are vast and there are many industries that can be transformed by this technology.

“Fears” of the Future

From all this, it’s easy to conclude that the impact of quantum computing on society is going to be significant. And just like with any other revolutionary technology, there are some risks associated with quantum computing. One of the most significant challenges is the ethical and societal implications of the technology. Quantum computing has the potential to break many of the encryption methods used to secure sensitive data, which could lead to privacy violations and other security concerns. In addition, quantum computing could be used to develop new weapons and technologies that might pose a threat to global security. Is Quantum Computing Shaping the Future? History, Challenges, Risks, and Benefits - 3


Whereas quantum computing presents several challenges and risks, many organizations are actively working to address them by developing new encryption methods, improving quantum hardware and software, as well as providing training and education opportunities. So, we believe quantum computing will revolutionize the world in a good way. By developing the robust and reliable quantum technologies, we can unlock the full potential of quantum computing and create a brighter future for computing and society as a whole. The time for action is now, so continue to discover the tech world with CodeGym!
Comments (1)
Jr Soriano Level 1, United States
28 April 2023
pretty interesting