IBM has announced that it is opening a Quantum Computation Centre in New York which will bring the world’s largest fleet of quantum computing systems online, including the new 53-Qubit Quantum System for broad use in the cloud.
Largest Universal Quantum System For External Access
The new 53-quantum bit/qubit model is the 14th system that IBM offers and IBM says that it is the single largest universal quantum system made available for external access in the industry, to date. This new system will (within one month) give its users the ability to run more complex entanglement and connectivity experiments.
It was back in March 2017 that IBM announced that it was about to offer a service called IBM Q that would be the first time that a universal quantum computer had been commercially available, giving access to (and use of) a powerful, universal quantum computer, via the cloud.
Since then, a fleet composed of five 20-qubit systems, one 14-qubit system, and four 5-qubit systems have been made available, and since 2016 IBM says that a global community of users have run more than 14 million experiments their quantum computers through the cloud, leading to the publishing of more than 200 scientific papers.
Although most uses of quantum computers have been for isolated lab experiments, IBM is keen to make quantum computing widely available in the cloud to tens of thousands of users, thereby empowering what it calls “an emerging quantum community of educators, researchers, and software developers that share a passion for revolutionising computing”.
The hope is that by making quantum computing more widely available, it could lead to greater innovation, more scientific discoveries e.g. new medicines and materials, improvements in the optimisation of supply chains, and even better ways to model financial data, thereby leading to better investments which could have an important and positive knock-on effect in businesses and economies.
Some of the partners and clients that IBM says it has already worked with its quantum computers include:
- J.P. Morgan Chase for ‘Option Pricing’ – a way to price financial options and portfolios. The method devised using the quantum computer has accelerated things dramatically so that financial analysts can now perform option pricing and risk analysis in near real-time.
- Mitsubishi Chemical, Keio University and IBM, on a simulation related to reactions in lithium-air batteries which could lead to making more efficient batteries for mobile devices or automotive vehicles.
Back in November 2018 however, security architect for Benelux at IBM, Christiane Peters, warned of the possible threat of commercially available quantum computers being used by criminals to try and crack encrypted business data.
As far back as 2015 in the US, the National Security Agency (NSA) warned that progress in quantum computing was at such a point that organisations should deploy encryption algorithms that can withstand such attacks from quantum computers.
The encryption algorithms that can stand up to attacks from quantum computers are known by several names including post-quantum cryptography / quantum-proof cryptography, and quantum-safe / quantum-resistant cryptographic (usually public-key) algorithms.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The ability to use a commercially available quantum computer via the cloud will give businesses and organisations an unprecedented opportunity to solve many of their most complex problems, develop new and innovative potentially industry-leading products and services and perhaps discover new, unthought-of business opportunities, all without needed to invest in hitherto prohibitively expensive hardware themselves. The 15 hugely powerful systems now available to the wider computing and business community could offer the chance to develop products that would provide a real competitive advantage in a much shorter amount of time and at much less cost than traditional computer architecture and R&D practices previously allowed.
As with AI, just as new technologies and innovative services can be used for good, their availability could also mean that in the wrong hands they could be used to pose a new threat that’s very difficult for most business to defend against. Quantum computing service providers, such as IBM, need to ensure that the relevant checks, monitoring and safeguards are in place to protect the wider business community and economy against a potentially new and powerful threat.