Quantum cloud computing could help solve global problems, says Bill Gates

Microsoft founder optimistic about embryonic technology

Researchers could be using cloud-based quantum computing power to solve big scientific conundrums within the next decade, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has predicted.

The Microsoft founder turned philanthropist was hopeful about the future of the embryonic technology during an Ask Me Anything interview on Reddit.

“Microsoft and others are working on quantum computing. It isn’t clear when it will work or become mainstream. There is a chance that within 6-10 years cloud computing will offer super-computation by using quantum,” said Gates.

He added that the technology “could help us solve some very important science problems, including materials and catalyst design”.

In addition to Microsoft, companies including IBM and Google are ploughing resources into the pursuit of quantum computing technology.

Compared to traditional digital computers, which use bits (binary digits) – made up of ones and zeros – to perform calculations, quantum computers use subatomic quantum bits or qubits. These qubits can be in multiple states at once. This enables them can carry out more calculations in parallel, which could result in fresh methods of solving problems that traditional digital computers struggle to tackle.

Big hurdles still remain, however, such as how to unite thousands of qubits together to form computers, how to control their massive energy consumption – or even measure the signals they are emitting.

UK telecoms giant BT joined IT consortium Innovation Martlesham, last year, and it believes the UK could lead the way in quantity computing.

Quantum computers have been in the works since the 1980s. The creation of the world’s then-smallest transistor in 2010 sparked renewed ideas that quantum computing may yet be closer than predicted.

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