A quantum computing arms race is on in Asia - but what does that mean for the way we work and live today?
Simply put, quantum technology makes use of the principles of quantum mechanics: a branch of physics that studies the behaviour of particles at the atomic and subatomic levels. Think of it as zooming into the smallest components of the physical world—a level where the world looks like it’s behaving contrary to the principles of classical mechanics.
In place of the laws of motion and gravity that most people are familiar with, quantum mechanics has core concepts like entanglement—which states that particles separated by a great distance can be dependent on each other and “sense” the other’s condition—and superposition—which posits that particles can be in two quantum states simultaneously.
There are four main types of quantum technology:
Strides in quantum technology have far-reaching implications in business, medicine, financial services, manufacturing, and many other industries. Here are four ways that developments in this area may change how we live.
In Singapore, T-Systems has partnered with the National University of Singapore (NUS) and its Quantum Engineering Programme (QEP), which is working on quantum security and communication solutions as one of its focus areas.
The collaboration includes bolstering test and evaluation capabilities for quantum security technologies, as well as participation in proof of concepts, trials, and testbeds for QKD and other quantum communication and security advancements. T-Systems will collaborate in certification activities to facilitate the approval and deployment of the QKD systems.
One thing quantum computers are better at than classical computers is quickly performing complex calculations.
For instance, for a calculation with 16 possible outcomes, quantum computers will be able to simulate each of the 16 outcomes simultaneously, whereas classical computers can only run through them one at a time.
This is because classical computers rely on bits, which are represented as a binary and can only be either one or zero at any given time. Quantum computers, on the other hand, use qubits, which can be both one and zero at the same time, thanks to the principle of superposition. This is what makes quantum computers so much faster than classical computers.
For some businesses, this could potentially cut down on the time it takes to solve complex problems or make critical decisions, and could pave the way for deeper insight based on bigger data sets. Keep in mind, however, that exponential speed increases have so far been documented in very few and only very specific problems.
Banks and financial institutions can win big from deploying quantum technologies. For instance, the increase in computing power could allow financial services to make more precise estimates of credit exposures (for loan and bond portfolios) and smarter capital allocation across corporate finance activities through sharper risk insights.
Quantum communications can also help secure financial institutions’ data. Already, several banks are exploring quantum solutions to security and optimisation issues. Goldman Sachs is looking at how quantum computing can do rapid risk evaluation and price simulations for various financial instruments, while HSBC is investigating how the technology could improve risk analytics and cybersecurity.
Supply chains also stand to benefit from the novel ways that quantum computers process enormous amounts of information. In the future, this could help companies meet their customers’ requirements while making their supply chains more efficient, productive, and resilient to disruptions. These could then lead to cost savings for the company.
Quantum computers could help organisations optimise their transportation operations and identify the best locations for plants, logistics hubs, and distribution facilities. These can also improve warehouse management and distribution, optimising shipping loads and warehouse arrangements. Inbound logistics, or the delivery of raw materials to production sites, could also be made more efficient and productive by leveraging the immense computing and analytical power of quantum technologies.
To be sure, quantum computers are still a work in progress. Existing devices are small, in terms of number of qubits, and prone to errors. Much of the larger business impacts would only come to life when bigger, less noisy computers become available.
But even if it may be a while before quantum computers become commercially scalable, quantum technology is already bringing value to many different aspects of modern life.
Quantum communication technology, for instance, is one field where the transformative power of quantum is yielding real-world results now. T-Systems has been pushing the boundaries of quantum communications and will continue to do so through our partnership with NUS.