Quantum supremacy - The potential ability of quantum computing devices to solve problems that classical computers practically cannot.
With the latest quantum computer from Google having 72 qubits, we are on the verge of quantum supremacy. IBM has also had considerable recent advances and before the year is out we are likely to reach quantum supremacy. The issue with these early models is the high error rate, however Microsoft and the Niels Bohr Institute have recently announced a potential breakthrough that may allow for the creation of stable and scaled-up quantum computers (BBC, Nature). Microsoft says "We will have a commercially relevant quantum computer - one that's solving real problems - within five years,". IBM has said exactly the same thing.
I think the early to mid-2020's will be when quantum computing begins to move out of the lab and into real use. But where will quantum computers be used first and what kinds of problems will they first be used to solve?
Here are some potential applications of quantum computers:
- Cryptography - quantum computers can be used both to easily hack current encryption, but also with methods such as lattice-based cryptography which would make data almost impossible to hack.
- Molecular and chemical industry - The understanding of complex molecular interactions will allow the discovery of new medicines and nanotechnology.
- Optimisation - Finding the most efficient solutions for logistical problems such as delivery services and supply chains.
- AI - Faster and more accurate search functions in large datasets will allow machine learning to become much more powerful and increase their utility. Also to create unbiased AI.