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Aruba, September 6, 2016 - Quantum Computers Are Coming. The World Might Not Be Ready.

Quantum mechanics, Carl Sagan once observed, is so strange that "common sense is almost useless in approaching it." Scientists still don't understand exactly why matter behaves as it does at the quantum level. Yet they're getting better at exploiting its peculiar dynamics -- in ways that may soon upend the technology business. One of the most interesting applications is in computing. In theory, quantum computers could take advantage of odd subatomic interactions to solve certain problems far faster than a conventional machine could. Although a full-scale quantum computer is still years off, scientists have lately made a lot of progress on the materials, designs and methods needed to make one.
And that could have some striking benefits. Quantum computers could simulate how atoms and molecules behave, to the greatadvantage of chemists and drug designers. They could solveoptimization problems -- say, how to efficiently route airplane traffic -- far faster than current technology can. They could speed advances in artificial intelligence, improve sensors, and lead to the design of stronger and lighter industrial materials.
Unsurprisingly, then, investment in the field is surging. IBM,Microsoft and Google are all building quantum research labs. Startups are gearing up. Banks are very interested indeed. Governments see applications for space exploration, medical research and intelligence-gathering. America's National Security Agency, in fact, has been quietly trying to build a quantum computer for years, in the hope that it would make an unstoppable code-breaker.