Within the last 10 years, we have seen many manifestations and diffusion of technology which can be felt in all spheres of human engagement. Though the successes garnered, the expansion, adoption and integration of these technologies, we are still faced with replete challenges nonetheless.
Quantum computing is a rapidly-emerging technology that harnesses the laws of quantum mechanics to solve problems too complex for classical computers.
Why Quantum Computers?
Well, it is primarily to solve complex problems.
When scientists and engineers encounter difficult problems, they turn to supercomputers. These are very large classical computers, often with thousands of classical CPU and GPU cores. However, even supercomputers struggle to solve certain kinds of problems.
If a supercomputer gets stumped, that’s probably because the big classical machine was asked to solve a problem with a high degree of complexity. When classical computers fail, it’s often due to their complexity
Complex problems are problems with lots of variables interacting in complicated ways. Modeling the behaviour of individual atoms in a molecule is complex because all the different electrons are interacting with one another.
The MoD will work with British company Orca Computing to explore applications for quantum technology in defence.
Stephen Till, of the MoD’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), called it a “milestone moment”.
Richard Murray, chief executive of Orca Computing, says despite the debate over the realities and capabilities of quantum computing, the company’s work with the MoD is a “significant vote of confidence”.
“Our partnership with MoD gives us the type of hands-on close interaction, working with real hardware which will help us to jointly discover new applications of this revolutionary new technology.”
The Promise Of Orca’s PT-1 Quantum computer
According to Prof Winfried Hensinger, head of the Sussex Centre for Quantum “Technologies at the University of Sussex. The potential of quantum computers will take time to materialise.
They can’t solve any practical problems yet. They’re enabling you to maybe gauge the possibilities of what working on a quantum computer would have if you can scale this machine to really large system sizes, the promise of quantum computing, and the MoD’s exploration of it is still significant
Quantum computing can be disruptive in nearly any industry sector.
You can imagine that within the defence, there’s a lot of problems where optimisation can play a very important role.” Prof Hensinger adds.
Quantum computing promises to help solve problems that classical computers can’t handle. It will be used in the fight against climate change, in the development of new drugs and improved artificial intelligence – and in this case, potentially to support the military.
Unlike the early days of standard computers, we are at the stage where these machines are very few and very cumbersome, not least because their building blocks, qubits, have to be kept frozen.
But Orca’s machine does not require this, meaning the device can be a lot smaller, and a little bit more practical.