As a new decade approaches, we are in a state of technological flux across many spectrums. One area to take note of is quantum computing. We are starting to evolve beyond classical computing into a new data era called quantum computing. It is envisioned that quantum computing (still in a development stage) will accelerate us into the future by impacting the landscape of artificial intelligence and data analytics. The quantum computing power and speed will help us solve some of the biggest and most complex challenges we face as humans.
Gartner describes quantum computing as: “[T]he use of atomic quantum states to effect computation. Data is held in qubits (quantum bits), which have the ability to hold all possible states simultaneously. Data held in qubits is affected by data held in other qubits, even when physically separated. This effect is known as entanglement.” In a simplified description, quantum computers use quantum bits or qubits instead of using binary traditional bits of ones and zeros for digital communications.
There is an additional “entanglement” relating to quantum, and that is its intersection with the Internet of Things (IoT). Loosely defined, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the general idea of things that are readable, recognizable, locatable, addressable, and/or controllable via the Internet. It encompasses devices, sensors, people, data, and machines and the interactions between them. Business Insider Intelligence forecasted that “by 2023, consumers, companies and governments will install 40 billion IoT devices globally.”
As we rapidly continue to evolve into the IoT and the new digital economy, both edge devices and data are proliferating at amazing rates. The challenge now is how do we monitor and ensure quality service of the IoT? Responsiveness, scalability, processes, and efficiency are needed to best service any new technology or capability. Especially across trillions of sensors.
Specifically, quantum technologies will influence: optimization of computing power, computing models, network latency, interoperability, artificial intelligence (human/computer interface), real-time analytics and predictive analytics, increased storage and data memory power, secure cloud computing, virtualization, and the emerging 5G telecommunications infrastructure. For 5G, secure end-to end communications are fundamental and quantum encryption (which generates secure codes) may be the solution for rapidly growing IoT connectivity.
Security of the IoT is a paramount issue. Currently cryptographic algorithms are being used to help secure the communication (validation and verification) in the IoT. But because they rely on public key schemes, their encryption could be broken by sophisticated hackers using quantum computers in the not so distant future.
On the other side of the coin, quantum computing has the ability to create an almost un-hackable network of devices and data. The need to securely encrypt and protect IoT connected devices and power them with exponential speed and analytical capabilities is an imperative for both government and the private sector.
As quantum computing and IoT merge, there will also be an evolving new ecosystem of policy Issues. These include, ethics, interoperability protocols, cybersecurity, privacy/surveillance, complex autonomous systems, best commercial practices.
As quantum computing capabilities advance, we should act now to prepare IoT for the quantum world. There are many areas to explore in research and development and eventually implementation. The coming decade will provide both imperatives and opportunities to explore quantum implications.