Fans of early 1990s TV may remember the original version of Quantum Leap, a science fiction series in which the lead character, physicist Sam Beckett, gets trapped in the past after using a quantum accelerator for time travel. Beckett, desperate to return to the present, uses the machine to bounce between periods by leaping into the bodies of different people and temporarily living their lives.
Traveling back in time for a cosmic identity swap may not be a realistic application of quantum technology, but fast-forward three decades and quantum computing is emerging as a transcendental force in the real world.
Recently, researchers at Google ran tests in which the company’s quantum computer, Sycamore, computed complex calculations in seconds rather than the 47 years it would take the fastest supercomputer to perform.1 Experts believe these types of capabilities will usher in an era of economic, technological and commercial advances unlike any we’ve ever seen.2
The quantum promise extends across the public and private sectors, prompting claims that quantum computing will eventually be used for everything from developing cures for cancer and solving climate change to increasing life expectancy and creating nuclear-fusion power.3
From a business standpoint, enterprises that fail to prepare for quantum computing will fall behind competitors that begin identifying use cases for the technology. In fact, some companies are already using early-stage quantum computing to improve satellite operational utility,4 optimize financial portfolios5 and develop antiviral binders that fight certain diseases.6