Forecasting quantum computing

Quantum computers exploits quirks of quantum physics to make certain computations faster.

While only small quantum computers exist nowadays, the field is undergoing rapid progress.

This sequence collects posts where I explore (with the help of my coauthors Jess Riedel and Pablo Moreno) the main areas of application of quantum computing, with an emphasis on applications and possible risks.

The tentative conclusion is that the main area of application of quantum computing is in cryptonalysis. Large scale quantum computing will render unsafe our current public key cryptosecurity (like the one used to certificate webpages and make online payments secure).

Barring a breakthrough, large scale quantum computing will most likely not be developed within the decade. By that time, I expect that the National Institute of Standards and Technology will have finished their proposal for post quantum cryptography and will be widely adopted.

More speculative application areas are contemplated, including machine learning or biotechnology. However, the current theoretical underpinnings of quantum computing do not seem to make them promising candidates.

I have covered applications to chemistry in less depth, due to my own lack of expertise. Hence I was not able to conclude whether there will be any significant applications in this area.

Cover photo by Wikimedia user Ragsxl