Published By: Newsweek, 4/9/2017
IBM recently announced the IBM Q, which would be the first ever commercially available quantum computer. This is important because, if they fulfill their promise, quantum computers could potentially solve certain problems that traditional computers are simply not equipped to handle, allowing rapid developments in fields like medicine, pharmaceuticals, and transportation.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 13.2
Extended Discussion Questions
- The article points out that quantum computers will potentially be prohibitively expensive. Do you see the cost of quantum computing as a problem? Why or why not?
- For example, what are some potential consequences of the fact that those who can afford quantum computing may gain a huge advantage in predicting financial markets?
- What could be done to ensure that the benefits of quantum computing are more equitably distributed, even if only a few researchers and companies can afford to use it?
- The article describes some fields that could benefit from the problem-solving power of quantum computing because of the types of problems that need to be solved. Can you think of some other examples of fields where solving optimization problems with many variables is particularly important?
- The article quotes a computer scientist who says that even if quantum computers don’t currently solve problems that classical computers can’t, it’s good that we will already be prepared to design software for them when they do really take off. Do you think this attitude will pay off? Why or why not?
- How is this similar to other examples of planning ahead for tomorrow’s technology that you’ve heard about? (For example, designing to account for Moore’s law?)
Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework
Global Impact Learning Objectives:
- LO 7.2.1 Explain how computing has impacted innovations in other fields.
- LO 7.4.1 Explain the connections between computing and real-world contexts, including economic, social, and cultural contexts.
Global Impact Essential Knowledge:
- EK 7.2.1B Scientific computing has enabled innovation in science and business.
- EK 7.2.1F Moore’s law has encouraged industries that use computers to effectively plan future research and development based on anticipated increases in computing power.
- EK 7.4.1C The global distribution of computing resources raises issues of equity, access, and power.
Banner Image: “Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.