IARPA, the research wing of the US’s Intelligence Agency has long been searching for ways to develop and implement quantum computing, but it looks like IBM have beaten them to it. The computer giant announced this week that they have made important advances in creating a working quantum computer that could change the face of encryption and data processing.
Quantum computers use quantum mechanics to process huge amounts of data, which would provide a substantial leap ahead in processing capabilities compared to current digital-based computers.
That’s why the intelligence community, faced with exploding data processing needs, is set to look into the technology in May.
The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) announced earlier in April that it would host a Proposers’ Day on May 19 to provide information to potential vendors on the objectives of an anticipated broad agency announcement for its Logical Qubits (LogiQ) program.
The LogiQ project, in IARPA’s Safe and Secure Operations Office, is looking for creative technical solutions to encoding imperfect physical qubits into a logical qubit that protects against system deterioration, errors and harmful outside environmental influences.
Until now, IBM said, it was possible to address only one type of quantum error or the other, but never both at the same time. Addressing both is a necessary step toward quantum error correction, which in turn is a critical requirement for building a practical and reliable large-scale quantum computer.
Quantum computing offers exponential increases in power, far outstripping today’s supercomputers. According to IBM, if a quantum computer could be built with just 50 qubits, no combination of today’s top supercomputers could successfully outperform it.
“We are at the birth of the quantum computing industry,” said Jerry Chow, manager for the experimental quantum computing group at IBM Research. “If built, quantum computers have the potential to unlock new applications for scientific discovery and data analysis and will be more powerful than any supercomputer today.”