The Ministry of Defence has acquired the government's first quantum computer. Quantum computers can execute incredibly complex calculations extremely quickly and solve the problems regular computers can't. The Ministry of Defence, in partnership with British company Orca Computing, is exploring applications for quantum technology in defense. In this thread, our community discusses quantum computers and their impactful uses.
This Slogging thread by Mónica Freitas, Arthur Tkachenko and Sara Pinto occurred in slogging's official #technology channel, and has been edited for readability.
Ministry of Defence acquires government's first quantum computer
"The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has acquired the government's first quantum computer.
Quantum computers can make very complex calculations extremely quickly and their creators say they can solve the problems regular computers cannot.
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"."
"The computers found in most of our homes and workplaces process data in bits, which have a binary value of either zero or one.
Quantum computers instead use a two-state unit for data processing called a qubit.
This can represent digits like one or zero simultaneously through a quantum mechanical process called superposition, letting quantum computers bridge binary digits and cope with uncertainty where regular computers cannot."
"Prof Winfried Hensinger, head of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies at University of Sussex, says the true potential of quantum computers will take time to fully materialise.
"They can't actually 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."
But he adds 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," Prof Hensinger adds."
"The idea is that 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."
Long story short, the UK has bought its first quantum computer. The computer's uses are still to be defined, but it certainly opens up possibilities. What are your thoughts on this acquisition?
Who is a contractor?
Did they move it underground to the -100 floor of Pentagone?
Mónica Freitas, now, that's quite the acquisition. Having this type of technology it's always promising. The chance of making complex calculations quickly will definitely help develop technology in a more effective way. The amount of data that this supercomputer can store is a great sign for AI. I've read that these quantum computers combined with AI can even take over tasks related to data evaluation or forecasting in the future, in a safe and reliable way.
Arthur Tkachenko, Orca Computing was the one behind it, I think.
Is there another pentagon in the UK?! 😂
Sara Pinto, absolutely. It can help track climate change and design strategies to cope with it better. The same can be done to develop new drugs and medical treatments and support the military (which I'm the least excited about).
Mónica Freitas, how long do you think it will take before we see some more news about the actual use of this quantum computer?
Sara Pinto, I think they mentioned a year-long project just to determine what to do with the quantum computer. So, maybe three years until it's actually put to work?
Mónica Freitas, oh ok, that sounds like a good estimate. We have to keep an eye on this, can't wait to see the benefits.
Sara Pinto, same, but I'd love even more to see quantum computers more widespread.
Sara Pinto, what would you like to see this technology being used for?
Mónica Freitas, I think the next Pentagon must be created in Ukraine when we win this war. Elon will dig underground tunnels, weapons we already have.
Arthur Tkachenko, not Ellon 😂
Mónica Freitas, my immediate thought goes to the environment and climate change. However, that's a subject more complex since it's not only about finding a solution but actually acting on it.
Mónica Freitas, but I would also like to see them use it in health care. I think it's needed, and they might achieve admirable results.
Sara Pinto, healthcare and finance/economics seem like great uses for this technology. It could help manage institutions and figure out innovative solutions that would take too long otherwise.