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What is Quantum Computing, How You Can Use IBM’s Quantum Computer, and What Will Quantum Computing Do for (or Against) Encryption?

( [email protected] ) May 05, 2016 03:20 PM EDT
If you aren't familiar with quantum computing, you might want to get to know about it before everyone is doing it.  Unlike most computers, which process information using the binary power of zeroes and ones, quantum computers use qubits, processing the zeroes and ones simultaneously, thus resulting in speeding up the processing capability.  If quantum computing sounds like something that could change computing as we know it, it is, and you can try it out with IBM now.  In fact, you might want to get in on this early as many fear that quantum computing will affect encryption, in a negative way.
Quantum computing is available for average users at IBM. How will it affect...everything? Wired

If you aren't familiar with quantum computing, you might want to get to know about it before everyone is doing it.  Unlike most computers, which process information using the binary power of zeroes and ones, quantum computers use qubits, processing the zeroes and ones simultaneously, thus resulting in speeding up the processing capability.  If quantum computing sounds like something that could change computing as we know it, it is, and you can try it out with IBM now.  In fact, you might want to get in on this early as many fear that quantum computing will affect encryption, in a negative way. 

According to CNET, quantum computing has kept in the development stage because of the inherent unstable nature of qubits, with all quantum computers kept at super low temperatures.  IBM is offering a new service that will make quantum computing available to the everyday user.  This is a good sign that the organization of International Business Machines believes that the public can handle the power of quantum computing.  In fact, the BBC reports that IBM hopes to see processors up to 20 times larger in the next decade. 

Those that want to access the quantum computer processors must request an invitation through a web form which will ask for user's institution details as well as the level of computing experience.  The invite system is to keep bots from swarming the system, and the lack of experience shouldn't be enough to keep a user out.  You can sign up for the invite here

Ars Technica reports that a registered user will only be given five qubits, which "is still too few to do anything useful".  IBM does expect between 50 and 100 qubits within the next decade, and those types of numbers are good to do some useful stuff. 

Many are concerned about how quantum computing could affect the security industry, as its power to perform advanced calculations could make it possible to crack existing encryption methods.  The 5 qubits shouldn't be enough for that, but current security standards do rely on the complexity of encryption, which is something that advanced quantum processing could overtake.  In preparation for this possible age, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced it will hold a public competition for new encryption standards so passwords will be more difficult to crack, and it hopes for a quantum-proof standard by the year 2023. 

Beating encryption isn't the only use for quantum computing as it can be used for understanding DNA sequencing or predicting the rise and fall of the stock market.  Yes, quantum computing looks very, very useful, and as you have probably figured out, IBM doesn't have a monopoly on it.  Researchers at NASA, not to mention Google and Microsoft are looking heavily into it, showing that the world is headed for an age of quantum computing.

So, if you want to be one of the first to enter quantum computing before everyone else gets on it, check it out for yourself and see if it really is going to change the world as much as it sounds like it will.