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Are We actually Prepared for the Quantum Revolution?

Our lives have already been altered by quantum physics. About every electronic system we use today is an example of quantum physics in motion, thanks to the invention of the laser and the transistor, all of which are results of quantum theory. As we attempt to harness ever more of the quantum world's power, we could be on the verge of a second quantum revolution. Many industries, including healthcare, energy, finance, defense, and entertainment, may be affected by quantum computing and quantum communication. According to recent estimates, the quantum industry will be worth billions of dollars by 2030. Before this degree of large-scale effect can be achieved, however, major functional obstacles must be addressed.

Classical vs. quantum

Despite the fact that quantum theory has been around for over a century, the latest quantum revolution is centered on the discovery that ambiguity, a fundamental property of quantum particles, can be a valuable resource. At the level of individual quantum particles, such as electrons or photons (light particles), knowing every property of the particle at any given time is unlikely. Your car's GPS, for example, will tell you your position, speed, and direction all at once, with enough accuracy to get you to your destination. However, a quantum GPS does not simultaneously and accurately show all of an electron's properties, not because of a flaw in the design, but because quantum physics prohibits it. We must speak in terms of probability rather than certainty in the quantum world. And, in the sense of computation with binary digits (bits) of 0s and 1s, this implies that quantum bits (qubits) have a chance of being both a 1 and a 0 at the same time.

At first, such ambiguity is unsettling. 0s and 1s are synonymous with switches and electrical circuits turning on and off in our daily computers. From a computing standpoint, not understanding whether they are on or off makes no sense. In reality, this would result in calculation errors. However, the innovative concept behind quantum information processing is that quantum uncertainty — a fuzzy in-between "superposition" of 0 and 1 — is a function, not a bug. It gives you new tools to interact and process data more effectively.

Quantum computation and quantum communication in Real-time Action