For many years, quantum computers have been within only the confines of the research lab.
On Tuesday, though, IBM unveiled the IBM Q System One, billed as the first-ever quantum computer designed for businesses to put to their own use – though the company is clear that this is only the first step toward a broader revolution.
Quantum computing is considered one of the most promising early-stage technologies out there today. That’s because quantum computers can process exponentially more data and have the potential to completely transform entire industries. For example, they could streamline aerospace and military systems, calculate risk factors to make better investments, or, perhaps, find a cure for cancer and other diseases.
“Data will be the world’s most valuable natural resource,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said on stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where the IBM Q System One was unveiled.
Don’t expect to install one in your office any time soon, though. While the computer is open to paying customers, developers will access its power from the comfort of their own homes or offices via the IBM Cloud.
Average computers store data in binary, as either zeroes or ones – strings of ones and zeroes represent numbers or letters. However, quantum computers are much more powerful. That’s because they store data using “qubits,” which have a special property that allows zeroes and ones to exist simultaneously. This seemingly small thing gives quantum computers the ability to do exponentially more calculations at once, making them powerful enough for incredibly complicated tasks like drug discovery, intensive data analysis, and even creating unbreakable codes.