I recently read the book “The Circle” by Dave Eggers. It’s about a Facebook-Twitter-like Internet company called “The Circle” that wants to create complete transparency and networking – privacy, unfortunately, falls by the wayside. The quote above is by one of the Circle bosses and he uses it to justify his ubiquitous surveillance. I am sure that we would all answer this question affirmatively. We behave differently under surveillance than when we are alone. So does that mean that pure observation influences our behaviour?
Many articles on quantum computing are rushing quite a lot. “A qubit can be in the states 0 and 1 at the same time, and that’s why quantum computers are better than classical ones.” Sure…? Um, no, that was a bit too quick. In my series “FAQ: Quantum computer” I try to clear up common misconceptions and erase question marks. This article is about how to make a quantum computer out of many qubits.
Quantum computers bring quantum physics into the spotlight. Because tech giants as Google, IBM, Microsoft, and Amazon are all over them, they are the talk of the town. In addition to scientific journals, daily newspapers and gossip magazines also report on qubits and their friends. Quantum computers are always explained “simply and compactly”. I could also write an article like this, but more specifically, I would like to address the misunderstandings and confusion that such articles often cause. This is not (necessarily) the fault of the authors because no one can adequately explain quantum physics in 5000 characters. Others, however, blatantly sell the quantum computer as a holy grail or Pandora’s box. As so often, the truth lies somewhere in the between.
When you think of quantum technology, you think of quantum computers. Or science fiction, light sabres and half-dead cats. But quantum technology is more than the chase for the quantum computer. The second quantum revolution is about breaking boundaries and taming nature’s smallest building blocks. What emerges is a superlative technology: smaller, faster, safer, more precise. And not to forget: more incomprehensible.
Quantum technology is on everyone’s lips. Boulevard newspapers report on quantum computers under the factual title “Computers will dominate mankind!” In most cases, quantum technology is presented mysteriously, as a product of the future: science fiction. But one point most articles keep quiet about: Quantum technology already exists and we all have it at home.
Sometimes you have to make a choice. Some things you hate, for example, or you love them. Like Brussels sprouts, marzipan or Big Brother. In other cases, you have to take sides: Cats or dogs, Edward or Jacob, wave or particle. But as unlikely as it may sound, sometimes you can be two things at once. Although when this happens in the very foundations of physics, it can start heated discussions. Like at the beginning of the 20th century when Albert Einstein threw light into a deep identity crisis: wave or particle, which is it?