In two short years, @IBM has almost single handedly brought #quantumcomputing out of academia and into the hands of anyone with access to the internet. And now business partners are eyeing IBM’s #supercomputer as a revolutionary way to make artificial intelligence ( #AI ) not just faster, but smarter. At its first annual Think conference in Las Vegas IBM showcased a quantum computer that promises to solve problems that are currently and may well forever remain beyond the reach of traditional, classical computing. Though still only a working prototype, IBM’s 50-quantum bit — or #qubit — computer represents an exponential leap over the company’s earlier iterations in terms of sheer horsepower. Running at temperatures cooler than those found in outer space, IBM’s forthcoming Q computer will exploit the laws of quantum mechanics to evaluate 100 quadrillion states simultaneously. Whereas a traditional computer only sees two states for each bit, a quantum computer can see a number of states in between those two (called a superposition). Instead of flipping a coin and having it come up heads or tails, a quantum computer can see heads, tails and any number of states while the coin is in the air. Less than two years have passed since IBM introduced its first working five-qubit quantum computer online for public use. It took only twelve months for the company to realise a 16-qubit upgrade and six more months to reach the 20-qubit threshold. And even with a 50-qubit machine on the horizon, IBM is already aiming for a 60-qubit system that can evaluate a thousand quadrillion states. It is not unthinkable, therefore, to reach 200-qubits, where the computer could evaluate more states than there are particles in the known universe. It is not inconceivable that in the very near future, a quantum computer will be able to reach a theoretical milestone termed quantum supremacy, solving problems beyond the reach of current computing power — problems such as the simulation of large, complex molecules

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