The Next Industrial Revolution – Quantum Computing

For quite some time, the world has been changing rapidly, with new innovations happening seemingly every day. From advancements in 3-D printing, to ever improving chatbots, such as ChatGPT, it’s important to keep up with everything that’s going on, because they’ll affect almost everybody in some way. One of those things is Quantum Computing.

“You could think of it like a maze,” Hack Club founder Sahibjot Singh said . “While a normal computer would have to check each possible path separately, a quantum computer could check every possible path at once.”

Such power isn’t without consequence. There’s a reason that the NSA has put out several reports since 2016 detailing the security risks that will come with quantum systems, and more recently, how to deal with them.

“It can just break apart modern encryption easily,”  Singh said. “Luckily, QR [Quantum Resistant] encryption has been advancing too.”

Arguments have been made that the positives posed by quantum technology aren’t worth tearing down modern encryption. Elvyn Perez, Cybersecurity teacher, disagrees.

“Any computing, any tool, even from a hammer, they pose a risk,”  Perez said. “It all depends on the hands of who that tool is in.”

Caption: The interior of an IBM Q System One quantum computer

Of course, even just the positives might be too much for us. Power begets power, and more powerful computers might eventually lead us to truly sentient Artificial Intelligence, indistinguishable from humans. The question is, do we even know what that means?

“Philosophy still hasn’t given us proper definition for humanity,”  Singh said. “We can’t say we’ve replicated human intelligence until we know what that is.”

Regardless of where the goal post of “AI” might exactly be, we can definitely say that we’re getting closer to it.

“I cringe at that world, but that’s the world we’re looking at,”  Perez said. “It’s almost like a flow of water in a river… If you leave the water uncontrolled it will damage the soil. You can control it, but you shouldn’t stop it. The moment you stop it, you stop vegetation from growing.”

That “vegetation” is a huge number of things, ranging from analyzing molecular structures to develop the best medicines, to predicting certain events with a staggering degree of accuracy. Many of those technological advancements could also in turn create their own advancements for society, leading to a potential technological boom bigger than that of the industrial revolution or the late 1900s.

“It’s solving problems at a speed that we as humans would have taken years, decades to solve. We’re finding cures to diseases that we were not able to find before,” Perez said. “The tool is useful. The problem is, if it’s not controlled, we lose control of it.”

Shone Santhosh

Hi, my name is Shone Santhosh. I’m a senior at Thomas Edison, and I’ll be writing for the Technology section on the Edison Light. There’ll always be new and innovative things happening in the field of tech, and I’ll be keeping up to date. Whether you browse the Light regularly or a teacher told you to check it out, hopefully I’ll be able to keep you around for a bit.