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TQD Exclusive: Presenting The 12 Quantum Gifts of Christmas

Whether you’re a quantum skeptic, or a quantum believer, you have to admit 2019 has been a breathless 365-day stretch for quantum technologies. And now, as we enter the holidays and near the end of this crazy year in quantum, it’s a great time of year to dream wildly about the future. While the following ideas are still speculative, we have reason to hope that quantum computing has the potential to change our world in deeply meaningful ways. Here are 12 quantum computing technologies that are about to do just that.

Quantum technologies have a love-hate relationship with the cybersecurity field. Many fear quantum computers because they have the power to crack most of the methods we currently use to secure financial accounts and transactions. But that same power can create methods that will be super-secure, including the creation of almost impossible to hack password codes.

Molecular Breakthroughs
Modeling even the simplest proteins is almost impossible for classical computers and even supercomputers based on classical designs. However, advanced quantum computers could help scientists better understand the most intricate protein processes. And that could lead to new treatments for cancer, heart disease, Parkinsons and other serious diseases and conditions.
A company that’s using quantum computation to study protein-based behavior now is Toronto-based biotech startup ProteinQure.

Money-Stretching Magic
Efficiency is the key to wealth. Making money go farther and avoiding bad bets would inject trillions of dollars back into the economy that might turn into a race to the top. Companies are now investigating how to use quantum computing to optimize portfolios and model economic movements in ways classical computers can’t.
JPMorgan Chase is one of those leaders in quantum financial modeling.

Cutting the Crap
The world has a poop problem. Farmers need fertilizer to feed the world’s growing population, but the chemicals in most fertilizers can cause environmental problems. Most fertilizers are made by heating and pressurizing atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia, a process called the Haber process. But, the process takes a lot of energy. In fact, it accounts for more than one percent of greenhouse gas emissions.
Microsoft researchers are using quantum computers to find ways that would use bacteria to produce fertilizers using a similar, but natural method.

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Weather or Not
Check out the Twitter account of any television weather forecaster who told people to expect 2 inches of snow and got 4 inches, and you’ll realize just how seriously people take the weather — and just how seriously hard it can be. We currently use some of the biggest supercomputers to model weather patterns — and it’s still not perfect. Quantum computing may make weather prediction a breeze, according to experts. In fact, Rigetti and IBM are both working on tapping quantum computers to better understand tricky weather systems.

Super — Perhaps Even Super-dooper — AI
We are aware of the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to solve problems. It’s caused the world’s most famous (human) Go player to “Go” into retirement. But, this is very narrow AI, relatively speaking. With quantum computing, we may just be getting warmed up. We could be powered by quantum information process that lead us to artificial general intelligence, or even — gulp — artificial general superintelligence.
IBM is investigating that right now.

Better-than-ever graphics, non-player characters that move hyper-realistically and truly random level generation.

Game Starting, Player One
Quantum computers, using those AI-backed brains we just talked about, may bring us video games with hyper-real environments and textures. And, by that, we mean: “Better-than-ever graphics, non-player characters that move hyper-realistically and truly random level generation,” according to BuiltIn.
James Wootton, of IBM Research said that in classical computing, “you’re hampered by the fact that you don’t have good, fast analysis algorithms at the moment, which quantum computers could help with. I think that’s going to be the first use of quantum in games.” 

Climate Change
We discussed how quantum computers could help us with weather prediction. Some quantum experts are saying that these devices could even help us better understand and mitigate climate change. That could lead to the ultimate gift — a cooler, cleaner planet.
PsiQuantum is looking into those possibilities.

Quantum Computers for Hassled Commuters!
Traffic is a hassle. And they’re not just a hassle, excessive commutes cause stress and can lead to poor decisions, which can lead to accidents. Quantum computers are helping sort out traffic patterns. Volkswagen is ahead of the curve on this one, using DWave computers to optimize traffic patterns.
This power of sorting out complex patterns to optimize efficiencies can lead to other quantum gifts, as we will read about next.

Cheaper Deliveries
Ever hear of the traveling salesman problem? It’s not the dude who shows up at your house every Saturday to sell you windows. Instead it’s a problem centered on how to efficiently maximize trips to multiple locations. It turns out, quantum computers can really manage finding the right way to make multiple stops. And, in a world where goods and services are increasingly being delivered right to the home of the consumer, that will lead to faster and cheaper deliveries!

Automated Automobiles
Quantum computers could deliver another traffic-related present. Quantum computers could help self-driving cars navigate, especially in super-congested areas. That could give us safer streets and faster commutes. Sadly, we may not get the opportunity to flip off motorists who cut us off in traffic. Gotta take the bad with the good, I guess.

Reality, What a Concept
Finally, quantum computers, which are run on quantum processes, should be ideal for understanding the quantum physics that runs our world. Or simulation. Whatever. They may power scientists to deliver staggering breakthrough findings in things like black holes, wormholes, quantum entanglement, the multiverse — and even reality itself.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from The Quantum Daily

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Matt Swayne

With a several-decades long background in journalism and communications, Matt Swayne has worked as a science communicator for an R1 university for more than 12 years, specializing in translating high tech and deep tech for the general audience. He has served as a writer, editor and analyst at The Quantum Insider since its inception. In addition to his service as a science communicator, Matt also develops courses to improve the media and communications skills of scientists and has taught courses. [email protected]

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