IBM Launches Commercial Quantum Computing — We’re Not Ready for What Comes Next

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February 18, 2019 | Originally published by Date Line: February 18 on

IBM recently unveiled what it claimed was the world’s first commercial quantum computer. While the announcement of the Q System One wasn’t scientifically groundbreaking, the fact that IBM sees this as a commercial product that organisations (if not individuals) will want to use is an important breakthrough.

IBM has taken a prototype technology that has existed in the lab for over 20 years and launched it in the real world. In doing so, it marks an important step towards the next generation of computing technology becoming ubiquitous, something the world isn’t yet ready for. In fact, quantum may well prove to be the most disruptive technology of the information age.

Quantum computers work by exploiting the weird phenomenon described by quantum physics, like the ability of an object to be, in a very real sense, in more than one place at the same time. Doing so enables them to solve problems in seconds that would take the age of the universe to solve on even the most powerful of today’s supercomputers.

Quantum technologies are disruptive, and more so in cybersecurity than any other field. Once large-scale quantum computers become available (which at the current rate could take another ten to 15 years), they could be used to access pretty much every secret on the internet. Online banking, private emails, passwords and secure chats would all be opened up. You would be able to impersonate any person or web page online.

This is because the information locks we use to secure privacy and authentication online are like butter to a quantum computer’s hot knife. Quantum technology is disruptive in many other areas as well. If your business decides not to “go quantum” and your competitor or adversary does, you may well be at a strong disadvantage.

As the technology landscape realigns itself, it is quite likely that many tech professionals will see their skills turn obsolete very quickly. Simultaneously, companies may find themselves frantic to hire expertise that does not readily exist.

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